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Rubbish on the shore - not just marine life that’s being  affected

Seeing a cat strolling around the beach and sniffing on the different pieces of rubbish made us realize once again how directly animals are being affected by garbage produced by humans.

Over time, even big chunks of plastic break down into very tiny pieces called microplastics, which pose a big threat to both marine wildlife as well as land animals such as birds, cats and dogs. A lot of studies have found dead animals whose stomachs were filled with plastic that is mistakenly ingested on their search for food. Furthermore, animals get injured from broken glass and cans, get entangled in fishing gear, plastic can holders, ropes and elastic bands. Moreover, they can swallow and choke on plastic bags, balloons and other debris. Besides environmental pollution, chemicals and toxic substances in litter (pesticides, detergents etc.) can lead to serious diseases.

According to research, aluminium cans take up to 80-200 years to decompose in the environment. Other products vary from a few weeks (paper waste f.eg.), years (foamed plastic cups, plastic bottles up to 450 years) and things like Styrofoam that doesn’t biodegrade at all. Cigarette butts are said to take years to decompose and release the stored toxins into the environment which harms nature and wildlife.     

Here are a few tips on how each of us can help:

  • As a smoker, use pocket ashtrays and take cigarette butts with you
  • Use a reusable plastic bag for grocery shopping etc.
  • Use a reusable bottle (stainless steel f.eg.) for beverages
  • Use provided bins and take rubbish with you wherever you are
  • Cut up plastic can holders, containers, elastic bands etc. and clean cans, jars and containers before putting them in a bin in order to prevent animal injuries
  • Try DIY cosmetic products and cleaners and use steel, wood or glass containers to store food and other things
  • Reduce, reuse & recycle!
  • Go out and do your own beach clean ups
  • Spread the awareness

By Ramona Petrig - Tenerife Assistant Research Officer

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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