July 08, 2021| Environment
By: Holly Odgers
During the summer, we’re especially grateful for our water. From quenching our thirst to cooling down at the lake, we all depend on access to clean and safe water.
Unfortunately in recent years, plastic waste has greatly increased, often ending up in waterways, and consequently decreasing the quality of water resources. Because plastic is not biodegradable, it is broken down into small pieces called microplastics, which are plastic particles less than 5mm in diameter. These microplastics can come from a myriad of everyday objects, like plastic bags and wrappers, Styrofoam containers, synthetic clothing, and personal care products. Microplastics that enter our water bodies are often ingested by aquatic animals and work their way up the food chain (possibly to your plate!).
This summer, researchers from New Jersey City University (Dr. Allison Fitzgerald’s lab) will be doing the first study of microplastics in Lake Hopatcong. Microplastics can enter the lake via runoff from roads, docks, restaurants, and other businesses near the lake and negatively affect the wildlife that live in and around the lake.
So far, results have shown the most numerous type of plastic to be microfibers (from clothing usually) followed by filaments (fishing line, dental floss, etc). We look forward to sharing the full results this fall as well as discussing with residents how we can reduce the input of microplastics into our lake and keep its ecosystem healthy!
Plastic-Free July is a great way to introduce small changes that make a big difference for the environment. Throughout July, try some of the following to help reduce your plastic use and protect our lake and natural resources:
Substitute plastic drink bottles for a reusable one
Use metal straws instead of single-use plastic ones
Clean up fishing line and nets after use
Be sure to collect all garbage and belongings before leaving recreation areas
For more great tips on going plastic-free, visit this post by the New York League of Conservation Voters.
Visit EARTHDAY.ORG's "End Plastic Pollution" campaign to gain an understanding of the impacts of plastic pollution on human and ecosystem health and how everyday actions can lessen the problem. Discover your plastic footprint and commit to making a difference today!