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Plastics & Trash

When you see things of beauty destroyed, how do you feel ?

How do you think God feels as we turn the oceans into floating trash heaps? When fish are replaced by plastic waste? Do we want to be a restorer or a destroyer?

The oceans are overwhelmed with plastic trash. Not only does it snarl and kill fish and marine wildlife, but they eat the colored pieces and die of malnutrition. Those that do not die may be caught, and when we eat the seafood, we eat the particles of plastics, complete with the toxic PCBs and other chemicals. (About 7% comes from what we flush down toilets!)

  Plastics degrade into small pellets and microplastics that are ingested by marine life and end up in our food chain (98% of Americans test positive for the presence of chemicals from plastics in their bodies). Microplastics in shakes and cosmetics make their way into oceans too as they move through water systems and rivers into the oceans. (We are quickly turning the beauty and abundance of the oceans into waste. It is estimated that if we don't change, by 2050 the oceans will contain more plastics than food.

But we have the power to change--to stop using single-use plastics, to change what we buy and use, and to clean up the plastics in the oceans and on our beaches. With commitment and God's help, we can work together for cleaner, healthier oceans.

Efforts Your Faith Group         Can Join

What You & Your Faith Group

Can Do

Fighting for Trash-Free Seas

This effort, which is coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy, works to stop plastics at its source before the trash reaches the sea.

International Coastal Cleanup

Get your faith community out to an ocean or river coast to help clean up the plastics on this day in September. Here are resources to help you coordinate your group's efforts. Also, NOAA has teamed up with Ocean Conservancy on educational materials to use.

UN's Clean Seas Campaign & Pledge

More than 50 nations and 90,000 people have pledged to do what they can. You and your faith group and local municipality can pledge. See what youth organized in Bali for the launch of this campaign.


This organization, started by two surfers, collects trash, cleaning up the oceans. You can support these efforts by buying bracelets made from the trash and educating others with their resources.

Bye Bye Plastic Bags

This organization, started by youth in Bali, educates the public, advocating for plastic bag bans, collecting bags and trash, and providing alternatives. Their work and resources are inspiring!

Lonely Whale Foundation

This organization works  on supply chains for plastics to keep them from the ocean ("keep plastics in the economy and out of the ocean"), banning single-use straws and other plastics that are harming ocean life. You and your group can form a Lonely Whale Team.


This organization provides scientific and educational resources to fight plastics in the oceans. They also offer alternative products to use instead of plastics.

A Rocha International: Conservation & Hope

Microplastics Toolbox This toolkit

◆ Advocate for and votes for bans on single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, plastic straws, tampon applicators, plastic-stem ear cleaners, Styrofoam cups, plastic water and other beverage bottles, and so much more.

◆ Carry your own reusable bags, straws, cups, bottles, silverware, chopsticks, and more so you can refuse this plastic packaging. Avoid buying products with plastic packaging whenever you can. If disposable bags are needed for produce, use biodegradable bags made from corn or other natural substances.

◆ Have your faith community use beverage and dinnerware rather than disposable.

◆ Only flush pee, poo, and paper down the toilet, never anything else.

◆ Find alternatives to plastics. Use refillable containers at your local food cooperative. Bring your own take-home containers to restaurants. Bring reusable cloth bags or cardboard boxes to the grocery store. If disposable bags are needed, use biodegradable bags made from corn or other natural substances.

◆ Use refillable bottles for water, with glass or stainless steel liners if possible (avoid reusable plastic bottles for hot liquids or letting them get hot in cars, etc.). Prepackaged bottled water is less regulated and often has less-certain purity than tap water.

◆ Never place plastic containers in the microwave. Heat releases chemicals from the plastic into the food. Use paper, glass, or ceramic containers free of metallic paint. If you do microwave in plastic, use only plastic labeled “microwave safe.” Note that “microwave safe” does not mean that there is no leaching of chemicals.

◆ Avoid plastic toys made with Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). PVC is used for cling wrap, some plastic squeeze bottles, cooking oil and peanut butter jars, detergent and window cleaner bottles, and trays in boxed cookies and chocolates. PVC is a known carcinogen and hormone disruptor, and can also cause developmental and reproductive damage. 
◆ Beware of cling wraps. Instead, use waxed paper or a paper towel for covering foods. If you do use plastic, do not let the plastic touch the food. For plastic-wrapped deli foods, slice off a thin layer where the food came in contact with the plastic and re-wrap in non-PVC plastic wrap or place in a container. Do not microwave foods with cling wraps on them.

◆ Eliminate Styrofoam, as it is made of petroleum products and formaldehyde, and is a known health hazard.

◆ Check the plastics that you use as bottles for babies. Babies and children are at the greatest risk from toxics in plastics. Use alternatives to polycarbonate plastic baby bottles and “sippy” cups. Avoid plastics containing a #3, #6, or #7 on the label. If you must use plastic, choose those with a #1, #2, #4, or #5.

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