Most of us wouldn't
think of throwing any kind of litter into the
natural environment. Yet it is
estimated that 6.4 million tons of litter finds
its way into marine environments annually. Litter
discarded in our city streets and parks can travel
through storm water systems to our streams, lakes,
bays and oceans.
Marine environments are
especially susceptible to the impacts of plastic
litter which entangle, suffocate or poison
hundreds of thousands of birds and other marine
life yearly. Plastic
shopping bags, 6-pack rings, plastic
foam containers, disposable
cutlery, even plastic toys, all pollute our
waterways and can take hundreds of years to break
Now there's hope.
Recent years have seen the
emergence of a variety of biodegradable "plastic,"
and bagasse, alternative food service products
made from natural, plant-based
example, PLA which stands for polylactic acid is
made from yellow corn. PLA looks
just like clear plastic but will biodegrade
in about 50 days in the environment. PLA
products include cups, lids, food containers,
paper cup liners and disposable cutlery.
Of course we wouldn't throw any
litter into the environment, but for the litter
that does escape, biodegradables now offer the
earth-friendly advantage of a short and non-toxic