Plastics in our rivers

Plastic pollution in rivers is a major environmental problem that affects not only the health of rivers and the ecosystems they support, but also the health and well-being of humans. In this blog, we'll explore some of the causes of plastic pollution in rivers, the impacts it has on the environment and human health, and what we can do to reduce it.
In a subsequent blog, we will look specifically at microplastics.

Slightly ironic how this trash collector (in Baltimore, US) creates a fish tail as it works...

One of the main causes of plastic pollution in rivers is the improper disposal of plastic waste. Many people simply toss their plastic trash into the streets or into nearby waterways, where it can be carried by stormwater runoff into rivers. In addition, plastic that is not properly recycled can also end up in rivers through the waste management process.

The impacts of plastic pollution in rivers are significant and wide-reaching. For one, plastic in rivers can harm and kill wildlife that mistake it for food or become entangled in it. Fish, birds, and other animals can ingest plastic particles, which can lead to malnutrition, organ damage, and even death. In addition, plastic in rivers can also absorb toxins from the water, which can be harmful to both humans and animals when ingested.

Plastic pollution in rivers can also have economic consequences. For example, plastic pollution can damage fishing gear and boats, leading to losses for fishing and tourism industries. In addition, plastic pollution can also affect water quality, making it unfit for human consumption and recreation.

What can we do about the problem?
So, what can we do to reduce plastic pollution in rivers? One effective strategy is to properly dispose of plastic waste and ensure that it is properly recycled. This includes properly disposing of plastic items such as bottles, bags, and packaging in designated recycling bins and participating in community recycling programs.

Another important strategy is to reduce our overall consumption of single-use plastic items, such as straws and plastic water bottles. By using reusable items instead, we can significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our rivers and other waterways.

We can also support businesses and organizations that are working to reduce plastic pollution in rivers. For example, we can choose to patronize companies that use environmentally friendly packaging and support initiatives that work to clean up plastic pollution in rivers.

Finally, it's important to educate others about the issue of plastic pollution in rivers and the steps we can all take to reduce it. By raising awareness about the problem and the actions we can take to address it, we can create a ripple effect that will help to protect our rivers and the ecosystems they support for generations to come.

In conclusion, plastic pollution in rivers is a serious environmental issue that has wide-reaching impacts on both the environment and human health. By properly disposing of plastic waste, reducing our consumption of single-use plastic items, supporting businesses and organizations that are working to reduce plastic pollution, and educating others about the issue, we can all play a role in protecting our rivers and the ecosystems they support.

If you would like to dig further into the plastics in our environment, then Earthwatch have some excellent online resources.

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