Bust the balloons
Balloons eventually fall back down to Earth … and can end up in the ocean, entangling animals or being mistaken for food. Skip the balloons at your next party, and ask friends to do the same. Make pom-pom decorations instead!
Bin for the win
Always throw trash in the can. Garbage left outside might harm wildlife and end up in the ocean. Trash that’s properly brought to a landfill is kept out of the sea.
If you go fishing, don’t leave nets or lines in the water. Animals can become entangled in the trash.
According to one study, over eight million tons of plastic pollution end up in the ocean each year. Drink from a refillable water bottle, place your sandwich in cloth or a reusable container, and use bar soap instead of bottled.
Form a club in your classroom to reduce your waste at school. Monitor what’s thrown away each week, and think about ways to cut down on those items.
Participate in a community cleanup. The groups that host the events sometimes weigh the collected trash, which helps leaders make decisions about laws that encourage people to waste less.
People in the United States recycle only about 35 percent of their waste, so recycle what you can. Ask for help to create a paper and plastic recycling program in your classroom.
Does your favorite ice-cream shop use plastic spoons? Ask an adult to help you talk to the owner about switching to a non-plastic option. Some kinds of spoons are even edible!
Do-good goodie bag
Don’t fill your birthday goodie bags with plastic yo-yos and other trinkets for your friends. Instead, give them homemade treats or coupons to a local bakery.
Experts estimate that Americans use about 500 million plastic straws a day, and they’re one of the top 10 trash items found during ocean cleanups. If you must use a straw, find a reusable metal straw or a paper version or make your own.
Ask your parents to buy food and clothes that are made without pesticides—chemicals sprayed on crops to kill bad bugs. The problem? Pesticides also can kill critters like bees that are eco-friendly.
Stuffed with stuff
Items shipped to your home often come wrapped in plastic packaging; toys bought at the store are covered in it. Think about what can be bought secondhand, what can be shared, and what doesn’t need to be purchased at all.
Photo credits: Stephan Bonk, Shutterstock (balloons); Nokuro, Shutterstock (bottles); Ariel Skelly, Getty Images (clean up); Kerdkanno, Shutterstock (ice cream): Shawn Jackson, Dreamstime (dolphin): Kanittha Boon, Shutterstock (straws); Sergey Uryadnikov / Shutterstock (sea bird)