Is plastic cutlery dangerous for marine animals?
At some point, you must have come across some disturbing images of ocean and land creatures who mistakenly ingest plastic ware, shopping bags, hooks, and small adventure gear. Sadly, most of them are badly injured and beyond the point of being saved, ultimately losing their life to plastic pollution.
Using plastic cutlery may be easy and cheap, but it’s causing more damage to our environment than good!
Plastic garbage is one of the biggest factors harming the natural fauna residing in water and on land. Despite continuous warnings from environmentalists, the number of animals being killed from plastic-ware debris has reached an alarming point.
Our ecosystem is now at high risk of losing numerous species of seabirds, fish, and other kinds of aquatic/non-aquatic mammals forever. These animals bring a natural balance to our environment by taking care of bugs and pests.
But that shouldn’t be the motivation behind keeping our lands and oceans plastic-free. If we fail to stop the use and abuse of plastic cutlery, we’re actively contributing to the brutal killings of these innocent animals.
How bad is plastic cutlery for the environment?
More than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic garbage are currently floating in the seas and oceans around the world. This deadly pollution consists of fishing gear, cigarette butts, broken shards of plastic cutlery, bottle caps, plastic bags, and even fragments of balloons.
Plastic cutlery items can’t be recycled and are often thrown away. They often reach the wildlife in forests or waterbodies.
According to scientists, plastic forks, knives, and spoons need around 200 years to decompose. And this is only possible under strong sunlight. With time, the compounds reach the soil and water, affecting the plants, sealife, and poisoning animals. The entire food chain can be poisoned only through improper disposal of plasticware.
How many ocean animals die from plastic cutlery?
The numbers are truly alarming - get ready to be shocked!
Human garbage and plastic debris travels from far and wide and gets swallowed by the ocean, ultimately killing the innocent sea fauna.
United Nations discovered that almost 80% of the plastic waste has affected approximately 800 different animal species in oceans. This includes fish, turtles, sea birds, and other mammals residing deep underwater.
One 2018 study revealed how ingesting only 14 pieces of plastic can increase the death rate of sea turtles by a whopping 50%!
Even seabirds consume plastic cutlery, mistaking it as pieces of food. An estimated million seabirds including pelicans, seagulls, puffins, ducks, and geese die from plastic water waste every year.
Scientists are certain these numbers will continue rising rapidly if we fail to take action. So disturbing…
How can plastic kill sea animals?
Plastic cutlery accumulates on land as well as in water pathways. Most of these individual pieces are less than 5mm in length - also known as micro-plastic.
Now imagine a bird circling above the water or a fish floating near the surface, seeking daily morsel. They consume these pieces of micro-plastic, mistaking them for food from afar.
Since it’s primarily made of petroleum compounds, the pieces don’t easily degrade or dissolve. Eventually, they get inside the belly of marine animals such as sea turtles, whales, dolphins, birds, and numerous types of fish.
These pieces of plastic garbage get stuck in air pathways or the digestive system, unable to move out from the body, leading to bloating and instant suffocation. These animals can’t eat anything either and might die because of starvation as well.
Plastic cutlery pieces are quite sharp and once inside, they can cause internal injuries and bleeding. Additionally, the plastic cutlery chemicals are contaminated and slowly release toxins into the body of animals. If a poisoned creature is consumed by a larger animal such as a sea lion or whale, it can be dangerous for the ecosystem at large.
Once these animals are found, the plastic debris is once again released into the environment with no solutions for recycling or biodegradation.
How can you help keep our animals safe?
Here are a few ways you can mindfully protect animals from toxic plastic poisoning and death:
- Instead of ordering take-out foods while going outdoors, try some go-to healthy recipes that would take just a few minutes to cook!
- Avoid using plastic cutlery when you’re on a picnic, barbeque, or on a hike. Instead, choose stainless steel cutlery - like the portable set by Outlery. It’s a whole lot more convenient and doesn’t contaminate your food or environment.
- Never use plastic bags and instead switch to biodegradable options.
- Ditch plastic water bottles altogether and only drink from reusable glass bottles.
- Find ways to reuse and recycle plastic bottle caps. You can find numerous DIY projects online to make use of such tidbits!