Plastic Pollution and our wildlife: what can you do?

This is a collaborative post.

The wonderful TV programme Blue Planet highlighted the danger that plastic pollution poses to wildlife in our oceans. Images of turtles trapped in plastic bags, seabirds strangled by the plastic rings from packs of beer and other creatures ingesting plastic raised alarm bells and brought the scale of the issue into the public consciousness.

A danger to wildlife

If you have ever taken a walk along many of our beaches, particularly after a storm, you will have seen plastic rubbish and other debris strewn around. However, the hazards of plastic pollution aren’t confined to our sea creatures. Plastic rubbish also endangers the birds and other wildlife that inhabits our estuaries, woodlands, rivers and streams.

The infographic here illustrates the scale of the problem and suggests some small lifestyle changes we can all make to help reduce the problem of plastic pollution on our wild creatures. It was produced by Kennedy Wild Bird Food, who have been striving to make the best food to help keep wild birds healthy for over 30 years.

plastic pollution

What you can do

When faced with such a huge and distressing issue it is easy to feel overwhelmed. You feel you can do nothing to make a difference so you do nothing. This is not true! We can all help by taking small actions starting today. Here are some ideas.

Volunteer: the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts organise plastic clean ups and are always looking for the community to help. The Marine Conservation Society also has a large programme of beach cleaning events coming up.

Avoid single use plastics whenever possible. An easy one is plastic water bottles. There are some great stainless steel alternatives you can buy that are insulated, so keep your water cold too.

On a similar note, keep reusable shopping bags in your handbag and the boot of your car so you never have to take a plastic bag home again.

How about keeping the kids or grandchildren amused making a bird feeder out of an old bottle? The RSPB has instructions here. Replenish the food regularly so that it doesn’t go mouldy, as this is also a hazard to birds.

Say no to plastic straws. Paper ones are available if you really need them. I invested in a couple of stainless steel ones for the glass water bottle on the desk in my office.

Reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Don’t drop litter and pick it up when you can.

Don’t release plastic balloons into the atmosphere. Those helium balloons may seem fun, but balloons in the sea can be confused by marine life as jelly fish and eaten or, worse, fed to their young.

Take a flask or reusable coffee cup out with you rather than buying a plastic lined disposable cup.

Spread the word. Teach your children to dispose of their rubbish responsibly. Buy reusable bottles, coffee cups and bags as presents for family and friends.

For other ways to reduce your use of plastic see my post here.