Many seemingly harmless summer pastimes involve the use of items that may end up harmful for our waterways. Already this summer I’ve found the remnants of plastic packaging, paper lanterns and fireworks in Wetlands County Park. In addition to being unsightly, expensive, and wasteful, these items can break down into smaller particles, creating microplastic contamination. They can harm or kill wildlife who ingest or become entangled in them.
Summer months means increased use of our waterways, from the sparkling shores of Lake Huron to our shaded inland rivers. People from all over the state come to visit one of our eight Great Lakes beaches, paddle one of our seventeen water trails and picnic in our parks.
According to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes every year and over 80% of the litter found on Great Lakes beaches is plastic pollution!
So, why do my family and I care about plastic pollution? Plastic never goes away. When a plastic shovel gets left on the beach or a straw doesn’t stay in the garbage can, it breaks down over time or decomposes into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. Fish and other animals consume these microplastics, either directly or by consuming prey species that have been eating microplastics. We could end up consuming these microplastics in the fish we eat.
Now you know what I do to #keepitclean because a clean river is a fun river! What steps will you take this summer to #keepitclean?