Plastics and Pollution


Hannah Hornyak

Around this little home of ours lies vast creek-like water outlets, home to many species of flora and fauna. I’ve had the lovely privilege of witnessing painted turtles resting on logs, hoards of snails crossing the paved pathways of the Riverwalk, and dozens of flowering plants presenting themselves gracefully.

Unfortunately, this ecosystem stands polluted by a massive amount of plastic materials. Bottles, grocery bags, and food packaging mark the trail of human carelessness. In contrast with other man-made products, plastics don’t break down; they only reduce to smaller bits of plastic. These minute pieces of plastic are then consumed by creatures, gradually working their way up the food chain in the process of bioaccumulation. Eventually, we find ourselves consuming food that contains microplastics. This stands to show that as a species with the resources to build and repair, we must utilize that to mend the environment around us, starting with the smallest bits of plastic.


Ayah Quadri

Plastic. Its everywhere. At least thats what we (the PWA crew) discovered very quickly. In the Chadakoin river, we found trash piles everywhere. When we wore our waders to walk in the water, we struggled not only to walk, since they were so heavy, but we struggled to pick up all the trash. At one point, I discovered plenty of plastic bottles, wrappers, and containers lying underneath thick branches that were tangled on top of each other. Ive never seen so much plastic under piles of branches like that before, especially only within a few feet of each other. Our crew leader told me that when the river rises, it carries all the plastics up with it and deposits it under everything. Then, when it goes back down, it leaves the trash behind. Not only were all the plastics covered in gunk and filth, the river was as well. Everywhere you looked, it did not seem the cleanest at all. It was upsetting to see so much pollution in one area. It’s hard to imagine how much exists in the places we still have yet to see and clean. We also cleaned up trash in the Chadakoin park. As soon as we drove into the parking lot, we saw a pile of trash in the grass on the side. People are so ignorant of the harm they are causing to nature that they simply toss their trash wherever they please. If awareness of the extreme harms from pollution was more widespread, there would be more motivated to protect the environment. Pretending like the problem is not there will not solve it, and through this program, I intend to take advantage of my newfound knowledge and spread it our the community.

Jenelle Grigelevich

Hey! It’s Jenelle again. Today I want to talk about pollution, specifically, plastic pollution. Recently, the problem with plastic has been rapidly increasing. Plastic is a very dangerous factor in the environment. From the macro plastics that choke or strangle animals, to the micro plastics that are so small that a mosquito larvae can eat them. Through a process called bioaccumulation, the amount of plastic in organisms increase as you travel up the food chain. The micro plastic particulates in any organism can lead to many health problems and can eventually result in fatality. If the micro plastics don’t  directly affect an animal, then macro plastics most likely will. These have the ability to kill creatures as well. Water birds getting tangled in fishing line, fish suffocating in plastic bags, turtles getting muddled in old nets, are all ways macro plastics are taking wildlife lives. Not to mention the fact that some animals not only consume micro plastics, but many consume macro plastics as well. Plastic in any form is very dangerous to any ecosystem and people must start taking action. Recycling, using reusable bags, and sipping through metal straws are simple ways people can help out. People could even just go to their local park or beach with a trash bag and gloves and help clean up a little! Little actions can help save our big beautiful world.

Mason Tomczak

My second week in Project Wild America has proven to be very educational, engaging, and enjoyable. This week we stuck to the theme of pollution remediation; in other words, cleaning up garbage that is harming our local ecosystems. We also were educated through multiple presentations about the effects of pollution and the concept of bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation is the the concept of harmful materials such as plastic traveling all the way up the food chain from a small organism to large organisms. When a fly ingests plastic from its food source, the frog eating that fly is also ingesting the plastic and the cycle continues throughout the predatory chain. In the field this week, we put on waders for the first time and went to remove garbage from the swamp in Chadakoin park, which I can conclude was probably the grossest work I have ever done. The smell of the water was awful, the sun was beating down and the mosquitoes were having a banquet dinner that was my face. Coupled with wading in multiple feet of sludge and muck, it was an unpleasant experience for sure. However, what may seem unpleasant to us is actually a thriving habitat for many plants and animals, and that is why we need to remove any garbage and pollutants infiltrating their healthy ecosystems. Although the work may be disgusting, it is work that needs to be done for the sake of maintaining our environments and to form a greater connection between nature and ourselves.

Olivia Ruiz

A growing issue in our contemporary society is the prevalence of pollution and plastics contaminating the natural world. This week the crew dove right in and cleaned up Chadakoin  park of liter, then proceeded to dress in waders and enter outlets along the bike path, to clean out the river of more liter. It is truly devastating to see these natural ecosystems becoming overtaken with harmful plastics that end up threatening many organisms in our community. Our group is learning that even the ten of us as a crew can make a substantial difference in how we preserve and protect our environment. Essentially, it takes a simple one hour of community clean up to rejuvinate these ecosystems— imagine if a whole city united in this effort! It is PWA’s goal to draw awareness of these issues and spread a call to action mentality regarding the health of the natural world.

Andrew Johnson

Hello, this week we learned about pollution and plastics. During the clean up of the outlets near Chadakoin Park we found many plastic bottles and trash. We are going to put turtle traps down in this area to catch the different species of turtles. What I realized is that many of those areas don’t get cleaned up often and we need to raise awareness on the pollution of these habitats. We not only need to do this for the turtles but for all the wildlife in that area. Many of the pollution causes micro or macro plastics to be eaten and to go through the food chain, poisoning these animals. All in all, I realized that we need to clean the areas not only visible to us, but also in more obscure areas.

Asha Deharder

Hello, Asha Deharder here! We are nearing the end of our second week of Project Wild America. This week, we but a huge focus on plastics and pollution in our environments. On Wednesday we geared up with our waders, plastic gloves, and garbage bags and headed into the Chadakoin River outlets. Within the hour, the bags were full with a plethora of garbage, most of it plastic. The issue of plastic pollution may seem obvious: animals can choke on plastics and the pollution is an eyesore. Yet, the influence of plastics in the environment run much deeper. Through a process called bioaccumulation, microplastics are transferred up the food web and accumulate exponentially. When garbage is disposed of improperly or people simply litter, the effects are widespread environmentally damaging. As environmental stewards, it is our responsibility to dispose of our waste products responsibly. Yet as we treaded though the polluted waters of the Chadakoin, it was evident that many still refuse to assume their responsibility in protecting our environment. 

As an optimist, I hope to see this change. As a realist, I understand that some people fail to see the value of the environment and choose to pollute it. 

Until next time- 


Joesph Youngberg

While working we’ve learned that little pieces of plastics called microplastics can pollute waterways and can move through the food chain by smaller organisms eating them. Since microplastics don’t break down & just get smaller and smaller, they will always be present in the environment & can continue to move through the food chain and can build up in larger predatory animals such as owls & eagles.

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