US NOAA issued an infographic depicting the most commonly found types of plastics and how they affect the environment.

Impacts include:

  • Entanglement: Marine life can get caught and killed in derelict fishing nets and other plastic debris.
  • Ingestion: Animals can easily mistake plastic debris for food.

Sources include:

  • Boats/nets: Fishing gear can become marine debris when it is lost or abandoned.
  • Littering: Intentional littering or improper disposal of trash can cause marine debris.

Debris can enter the water via:

  • Rain and winds: Rain and wind can sweep debris into nearby waterbodies.
  • Streams and storm drains: Streams and storm drains can carry debris directly into the ocean or Great Lakes.

What can you do?

US NOAA recommends two strategies to keep the plastic out of the ocean:

  • Reduce plastic use.Think about all the plastic items you use every day. Can you count them all? Look around you. How many plastic things can you see? Being more aware of how and why you use the plastics that you do is the first step to reducing plastic use. Commit to changing your habits by reducing your use of disposable and single-use plastic items, reusing items and/or recycling them.
  • Participate in a cleanup.Volunteer to pick up marine litter in your local community.