Martin County has adopted a single-use plastic reduction strategy to protect the health of our waterways and the environment. How can you help make a difference? Shop local vendors that support sustainability practices, join advocacy groups with missions you support and, most importantly, incorporate reduction strategies into your everyday routine.
At present, global plastic production is equivalent to hundreds of millions of tons per year and is predicted to double within the next 10 years. Less than one fifth of all plastic is recycled. Approximately 40 percent of all plastic produced is single-use, disposable plastics. These plastics include non-biodegradable beverage bottles, plastic bags, packaging, food containers and plastic straws. Each year an estimated 10 million tons of plastic enters the ocean mostly from land. This plastic waste stream joins the approximately 150 million tons of debris that are caught up in the word’s ocean currents forming massive collections of marine trash. Eventually, as the plastic is exposed to the elements, it breaks down in to smaller pieces that are consumed by marine life in place of food, causing starvation and death.
Plastic waste can sicken or kill coral reefs by blocking sunlight from reaching coral or by abrading the coral and introducing pathogens and infection. We now know that microplastic fibers have contaminated virtually all the world’s water and the health implications of consumption are not yet fully understood.
Plastic pollution that collects locally on the beaches, shorelines and waterways impacts the health and aesthetic beauty of our environment. Litter is costly to clean up and, if left unchecked, has impacts on recreation, tourism and the economy. It is recognized that there are a number of local businesses, organizations and individuals that are taking affirmative action to reduce and eliminate use of single-use plastics. A collaborative effort is needed to preserve, protect and enhance coastal waters and to further support their environmental, ecological and socioeconomic value.