Plastic pollution is a huge problem for birds. Vast amounts of plastic in our waterways flow to the ocean and kill seabirds—hundreds of thousands of them yearly worldwide, according to the United Nations. Plastics slowly breaking down on land get swallowed and consumed up the food chain. The danger to birds is especially ominous because broken-up plastic absorbs other pollutants, such as pesticides: plastic “pellets” become poison pills.
Yet plastic is not, on its own, horrible; in fact, it’s a wonder product. Plastic parts make vehicles lighter so they need less fuel. Plastic airbags save countless lives. Plastic products enable hospital personnel to keep infectious fluids reliably separate from things that could become contaminated. Our problem isn’t plastic itself—it’s our attitude towards plastic. We treat this wonder product like it’s something to use once and then throw away. Should we really throw away something so amazingly waterproof, flexible, and lightweight?
Instead of throwing plastic away, take this challenge: decide you’ll never, ever buy new zipper-seal bags or plastic wrap for the rest of your life. Your attitude towards the zip lock bags and plastic wrap you have now will change! You’ll wash them, treasure them, and reuse them. And because you and others like you won’t buy new plastic, packaging industries will receive a market signal that they need to design and sell non-plastic wrappings. This would be an excellent step towards reducing your “plastic footprint” on this planet.
If birds could articulate their needs to us directly, they would thank you without reservation (especially the crows, who would serenade you until you begged them to stop).
Christine Du Bois – Buxbaum, Ph.D., Lansdowne Bird Town Coordinator of the Lansdowne Bird Town, provided the content for this article.