An estimated 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes and 19 billion pounds enter the oceans every year. Plastic litter is carried by wind from overfilled garbage cans, dump trucks, landfills and littered streets.
Much of the problem is linked to single-use plastics – the disposable items like plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles, and food packaging we use once and throw away. These petroleum-based plastic items are not biodegradable and usually go into a landfill where they are buried or get into rivers, lakes and, ultimately, the oceans.
Although plastic will not decompose into a natural substance like soil, it will eventually break down into tiny particles. As it breaks down, toxic chemical additives used to shape and harden the plastic can make their way into our water and food supplies. These toxic chemicals are now being found in our bloodstream and the latest research has connected them to cancer, infertility, birth defects, impaired immunity and many other ailments.