Preventing Plastics Pollution

NY/NJ Baykeeper's Approach to Fighting Plastics Pollution

We all want litter free communities and clean waterbodies for healthy wildlife. To achieve this goal, we must tackle the problem of single-use, throwaway plastics.

To prevent plastic pollution from entering our waterways, we must stop it at its source! Much of the plastic we discard every year is single-use, designed to be used once and then thrown away. These products range from bags, bottles, straws, cups, utensils, etc. It simply doesn’t make sense to use products made of an indestructible material for minutes and discard then, where they will live on in our environment for hundreds of years.

While plastics are integrated so much in our daily lives, these simple switches will help you prevent plastic pollution from entering our waterways!

NY/NJ Baykeeper’s Plastics Pollution Reduction Campaign consists of a three-pronged approach of education, advocacy, and research. We’re working on urging the public to change consumer habits, advocating for legislation that will reduce and prevent plastic from entering our waterways, and researching the impact plastic has on our waterways and wildlife.

In 2016, NY/NJ Baykeeper completed its NY-NJ Harbor Estuary Plastic Collection ReportThis report is the first examination of plastic pollution within waters surrounding New York City.

Based on our estimates, at least 165 million plastic particles are floating within NY-NJ Harbor Estuary waters at any given time. That’s about 256,322 per square kilometer! Plastics in our waters harm habitat, fish, and other wildlife and may be traveling up to the human food chain.

Change Starts With You!

Together, we can all make a difference to reduce and eliminate plastic pollution to restore our waterways for future generations to enjoy. At the end of the report, you will find tips to cut out single-use plastics from your life, and replace with reusable materials.

Going forward, we will continue collecting water samples and advocating for policy that will remove harmful single-use plastic products!

  • Bags.  Bring your reusable bags instead of using single use bags when you go shopping. To avoid forgetting, keep a stash in your car and purse. Below are our picks for reusable bags and even produce, sandwich, and wine bags!
  • Bottles. Use a reusable water bottle or use simple glass mason jars. Reusable glass or stainless steel bottles are better for our waterways and your health!
  • Straws.  
    Straws are one of the most common items found during our cleanups. Birds, fish, and turtles often mistake straws or straw fragments for food and are harmed by them. You can either quit using straws or invest in some glass straws.
  • Utensils.  
    Getting takeout? Ask the server not to include utensils and remember your own.
  • Personal Care Products.  In many facial scrubs or toothpastes, plastic microbeads are added as an exfoliate. These beads are too tiny to be filtered out by waste water treatment plants and end up discharged into our waterways where they can be mistaken for food by fish and move up the food chain – likely onto our dinner plates! Thankfully, President Obama signed the Microbead Free Waters Act in December 2015 that would phase-out plastic microbeads by July 2018. Until then, look   out for “polyethylene” and “polypropylene” on the ingredient labels!

More Plastic Free Tips: