Conserve Wildlife Foundation Emphasizes Dangers of Plastic Pollution for State Species
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey aims to remind residents and visitors how plastic pollution can negatively affect the local environment and its inhabitant species, and suggests simple ways to minimize human impact on wildlife in regard to plastic disposables.
“The presence of plastic pollution around our state is a threat that almost every individual can be found personally culpable,” CWF Communication Coordinator Corrine Henn noted in a recent blog post. “Although many forms of pollution impact our native species, the summer months at the Jersey Shore often result in a surge of plastic debris that are left behind or improperly disposed of. Plastic pollution impacts millions of wildlife species globally, and the diverse number of species in New Jersey are no exception.
“The plastic pollution that accumulates in our waterways and elsewhere around New Jersey poses a serious threat to native species,” she added. “Single-use plastic products like plastic bags, bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, straws and even balloons are not only unsustainable, but particularly dangerous for the animals that may become entangled in them or accidentally ingest them.”
As Henn explained, CWF Habitat Program Manager Ben Wurst, along with a group of volunteers that monitor osprey nests along the coast, began a few years ago to keep the trash and debris collected in and around the nests. “While it may not be the most visually appealing educational resource, it made the growing problem of plastic pollution personal for Ben, in a way that words aren’t always able to convey,” said Henn. Plastic bags, for example, were extremely prevalent in the osprey nests.
While it is difficult to completely eliminate plastics from one’s daily life, CWF does recommend that individuals always clean up after themselves when outdoors, whether at the beach, picnicking by a lake or otherwise; take any trash when leaving, and make sure to recycle whatever possible.
In addition, be mindful and take a moment to pick up garbage that others may have left behind outdoors.
The organization also suggests reducing consumption of plastic disposables. “A number of small changes from millions of people can make a big difference,” Henn stated. “For starters, invest in reusable shopping bags and water bottles. And cut down on the number of miscellaneous throwaway plastics you use, including straws and plastic wrappers.”
Finally, consider donating to the nonprofit CWF – at conservewildlifenj.org/getinvolved/donate – to support its conservation projects and ensure the biologists and volunteers are able to continue surveying and aiding species in need. —J.K.-H.