Harold Cram: The Perils of Plastic | Letters to the Editor

While fishing, I noticed a red-winged blackbird struggling in a bush. He was hopelessly entangled in a plastic six-pack shopping cart. When I untied him, he jumped on a branch and looked at me with a slanted eye before leaving.

I wondered how many birds and animals die each year entangled in plastic. Plastic kills! Birds, fish, sea turtles, dolphins, whales, seals and yes, humans. Sea turtles can get entangled and suffocated by plastic. And they can die from ingesting plastic.

Plastic bags in the ocean look like jellyfish (food). They swallow plastic which interferes with their ability to digest food, killing them. Eighty percent of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs and it kills them. A record number of dead dolphins wash up on Florida’s shores. A juvenile dolphin has been cut open to reveal a balloon and two plastic bags in its stomach. Seals are often seen with plastic and discarded fishing gear wrapped around their necks and bodies. As they grow, the plastic tightens and ends in gruesome death by strangulation.

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People who eat seafood consume up to 11,000 plastic particles per year. Of the thousand chemicals contained in plastic, 80% are “unknown”! People eat plastic every day and it’s killing us.

We have to go back to a time before petrochemical plastic, when cardboard was used instead of polystyrene foam. We can make plastic from hemp, that is. Henry Ford’s hemp car. Look to the past for solutions to today’s problems.

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