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Plastic pollution – how we contribute

It is estimated that 8 million tons of plastic waste flows into the world’s ocean each year. Some of it is in pieces large enough to entangle fish and other creatures. Some of it is broken down into beads small enough to be consumed by fish and whales that feed on plankton.

A global study is being organized to study where this all comes from. And it might just come from right here. Waste plastic, be it straws or cup lids or discarded plastic bags, can be washed down our gutters, into our storm sewers, into our rivers and down to the Gulf of Mexico.

The study will include cities along the Mississippi River, which drains about 40% of the continental U.S., according to a news report this week, including those of us who live along the Minnesota River. People can download a free mobile app called Debris Tracker, which will allow them to gather information about and report data about plastic litter. Cities included in the initial phase are Baton Rouge, La., St. Louis, Mo. and St. Paul.

This initiative will provide valuable information about plastic waste and where it goes.

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