Wild bird harvesting nectar from a flower Wild bird harvesting nectar from a flower

Reduce Plastic Pollution

Plastic has many essential applications in today’s society, but widespread use and careless disposal of this semi-permanent material negatively impacts wildlife around the world. The benefits, in some cases, are fleeting. Plastic water and soda bottles, for example, take over 450 years to biodegrade after being used for only a few minutes. Challenges with implementation hamper many cities’ attempts to recycle, and many plastic products are not yet recyclable. Locally, studies suggest that approximately 80 percent of all litter along the Great Lakes shoreline includes plastic particles.

A Global Concern

Aquatic ecosystems are some of the most vulnerable. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, plastic debris impacts more than 600 marine species, and reports predict there will be more plastic than fish, by volume, in the ocean by 2050. But plastic pollution also impact freshwater ecosystems. In fact, freshwater microplastics (extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment) threaten almost all species, including humans, through the ingestion of contaminated water and food, and studies have found plastic microparticles in the flesh of many fish species consumed by humans.

Guam kingfisher in exhibit

Take Action With Us

Ostrich in exhibit

Reduce Single-use

By using reusable water bottles, shopping and produce bags, food carryout containers, and other items—and turning down plastic items when possible—you can throw away less plastic and protect the health of natural areas.

Snowy owl standing over newborn chicks in exhibit

Make Better Clothing Choices

Avoid acrylic, nylon, and polyester fabrics, which shed microplastics in the wash—choose natural fibers like wool and cotton, when possible. If that’s not an option, look for better ways to wash: using special laundry bags, which capture microplastics, for artificial fabrics; liquid instead of powder detergent, which results in less friction on clothing and less release of microparticles; and cold water instead of hot water, which helps prevent microplastic shedding—and saves you money on your energy bill! Or, give yourself a break and wash clothes less frequently.

Design element with the words "Take Action With Us"

Spread the Word

Tell friends and family, both in conversation and on social media, how reducing plastic pollution benefits wildlife and people. Follow the zoo’s social media channels to see relevant updates on how you can Take Action With Us, and share those updates on your channels.

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