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How would you like your plastic cooked?

Grilled? Steamed? Blackened? Deep fried? I prefer deep fried because it adds an extra crunch to the crunch.

Just kidding. Why would anyone eat plastic? It isn’t particularly nutritious, it’s really tough to chew on and it’s pretty notorious for getting lodged in your throat. And most of it is made from fossil fuels with a bunch of chemicals we don’t know how to pronounce. I think it’s fair to say that plastic is something we shouldn’t eat.

But … we are eating plastic. What we eat is eating plastic – or what we eat is eating something that is eating plastic. Either way, we might be ingesting some fun toxic chemicals thanks to plastic, and we don’t even realize it.

According to the 5 Gyres Institute, in 2014, a group of scientists got together for the first Global Estimate of Marine Plastic Pollution and determined there were 269,000 metric tons (593,043,485 pounds) of plastic in our oceans – 5.25 trillion particles of plastic floating on the surface. Last year, the United Nations Clean Seas Campaign estimated there we 51 trillion microplastic particles throughout the ocean.

Those are large numbers. That’s not good.

Plastic always seems to make its way to the ocean – about 95 percent of those 51 trillion particles originated on land, which makes sense because most humans live on land. Plastic gets tossed out of car windows, gets washed into streams, floats down rivers and sails into the ocean.

Once plastic is in the ocean, it absorbs toxic chemicals like PCBs and DDTs (you know – polychlorinated biphenyl and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), which are chemicals linked to endocrine disruption and cancer. As this plastic begins to slowly degrade, like in the belly of a fish, it releases all these toxic chemicals. Sadly, fish don’t realize plastic is bad to eat. But then we come along and eat that fish, and bam, we eat some unwanted dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane too.

You might say the solution is to just not eat fish, but that’s not really helping anything. Plastic is killing wildlife. According to 5 Gyres, 1,200 species are endangered by plastic ingestion or entanglement. The solution is to stop letting plastic get to the ocean, and you can help!

Eliminate or reduce your use of plastic straws and single-use plastic utensils. Bring your own to use instead. Put leftovers in a reusable container. And, what’s the difference between putting your groceries in a cloth bag or a plastic bag? It takes about the same amount of effort to put objects into either bag, so why would you choose the environmentally destructive option?

Think about it! Start making easy changes today that can have a big impact tomorrow.

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl