Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to wildlife and ecosystems worldwide. Discover the devastating impacts of Plastic Pollution on animals and what you can do to help.
It has an immense and devastating impact on animals around the world. From ingestion to entanglement, this pervasive material has a major effect on marine creatures and land-based wildlife, making it an important issue to address. Learn about the far-reaching effects of plastic pollution and how you can help reduce its damaging impacts.
How does plastic pollution affect animals?
Plastic pollution can hurt animals in many ways. Animals can be injured when they come into contact with plastic debris, such as entanglement in marine debris or ingesting small pieces that may obstruct their digestive tracts. Plastic chemicals, including additives and stabilizers, may also be released into the environment and cause harm to animals. These chemicals can disrupt hormone systems and reproductive cycles, leading to further issues for wildlife populations.
The impact of plastic on marine life:
Marine animals are some of the most vulnerable to plastic pollution. Sea creatures like whales, turtles, and even tiny plankton can become entangled in plastic debris or ingest pieces broken down into smaller particles. This can lead to starvation in marine animals as they experience digestive blockages or difficulty swimming due to increased weight from ingested plastics. Ingested plastics may also release harmful chemicals that can further harm marine animals’ health.
Toxic pollutants caused by plastic waste:
Plastic pollution can also bring toxic pollutants such as lead, mercury, and other chemicals into the water. This can cause further damage to sea creatures who are exposed to these pollutants. It is estimated that up to 700 species of ocean animals are currently threatened with extinction due to plastic pollution. Plastic debris increasingly contaminates the habitats of creatures such as seabirds, fish, turtles, and dolphins.
Poaching, trading, and habitat destruction due to plastics:
Plastic pollution is a significant contributing factor to the destruction of animal habitats, leading to poaching and illegal trading. Washing up on shorelines, plastic waste breaks down into ever-smaller fragments, impacting habitats in the vicinity. These fragments attract poachers and traders seeking animals and their parts; this disruption threatens endangered species with a further decline in population size.
What can we do to reduce plastic pollution?
Reducing our dependency on single-use plastics can help reduce the amount of plastic that seeps into our waterways and animal habitats. Using reusable items like metal straws, durable shopping bags, and carrying containers eliminates the need to purchase continuously, reducing waste and pollution. Encouraging businesses to do the same by using recycled plastic products or creating a policy of ‘no plastic’ will also decrease the amount of plastic waste entering our environment. Educating communities about the proper disposal of plastics can further reduce pollution.
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