Shrink wrap is a large source of marine plastic pollution. Every year, hundreds of tons of shrink wrap is thrown away by boat owners and marinas. Seaside Sustainability’s partner Clean Ocean access identified four main options for boat owners to use to protect their boats, with recyclable, re-used shrink wrap being the most eco-friendly. Additionally, Seaside Sustainability and Clean Ocean Access have partnered to develop a cost effective shrink wrap recycling program for Cape Ann and the North Shore. The program offers marinas and boat owners a low cost and environmentally friendly way to dispose of their boat wrap.
Many lines used for fishing require a monofilament, or plastic, fishing line. Broken lines pose threats to many marine plants and animals. They may entangle or strangle shorebirds or marine wildlife that mistake them for food. These lines also can harm boats as they can get entangled in boat propellers. Because Seaside Sustainability supports the discovery of the ocean, we want to make recreational fishing a more sustainable activity. We build small collection receptacles for fishing lines and place them on piers and docks around the city of Gloucester thanks to the generous donations from the Building Center in Gloucester. The collected lines are sent to be recycled and turned into other plastic products.
Taking initiative to preserve and protect the marine environment
Marine plastic pollution is a huge problem for both ecosystems and human health. Many marine species, such as seabirds, whales, and fish ingest plastic that enters their ecosystems. Because they are unable to digest it, the plastic stays in their stomach and causes many animals to die of starvation, or creates blockages elsewhere in the digestive tract that can also lead to death. Organisms higher on the food chain, whether it be another marine species or terrestrial species such as bears and humans, then have the chance to ingest the plastic by
eating the contaminated animal. Additionally, marine species often become entangled or injured by plastic pollution due to thinking it is a food source or not seeing it until it is too late.
As plastics continue to accumulate on the coast and in the water they have the ability to break down from direct sun exposure, abrasion from contact with sand and waves, and as a result of the chemicals they absorb. This creates an endless cycle of microplastics being introduced to the marine environment that are difficult to remove. Microplastics have been found in every ocean in the world. The chemical pollutants they absorb can contaminate our drinking water or food sources without us even knowing they were present.
Macroplastic Accumulation in Great Marsh, MA
From February-June 2020, Seaside Sustainability surveyed sections of the Great Marsh in Massachusetts, from the Cut Bridge in Gloucester to the northern shores and marshes of the Merrimack River in Salisbury for macroplastic pollution. The team marked areas in need of plastic removal, which allowed for a scheduled coastal cleanup between Seaside Sustainability and volunteer groups. 13 areas were cleaned by said groups. Plastic beverage bottles, shotgun shells, wadding, tampon applicators, cigarette lighters, shoes, and styrofoam were the most abundant macroplastics throughout the Great Marsh area. Marine debris such as buoys, nets, highflyers, and traps were also very abundant in areas closer to river mouths and granite headlands.
The map provided shows the coast of Massachusetts with a legend indicating specific areas and bodies of water. Clean-ups are indicated with white pins while problem areas that need clean-ups are indicated with orange pins.
Plastic Ban Guide
The Single-Use Consumer Plastic Ban Guide emphasizes the importance of implementing bans on disposable plastics as a first step towards reducing plastic waste and promoting environmentally-friendly alternatives. With the understanding that no two communities are the same, these guidelines seek to provide a number of pointers and resources to help in understanding how to advocate for and achieve a plastic ban.
Comparing Macroplastic Distribution Using Drones
Using drones that were programmed to fly autonomously using DJI GISPro software to take photographs of the Great Marsh. These photos were used to determine the amount of debris and macroplastic accumulation in the area by creating orthomosaics and surface models. These findings can help to identify areas that need clean-ups, update environmental laws, and showcase how technology can help improve environmental conditions.
Click here to learn more about Seaside’s drone usage!