By Sasha Francis, Community Engagement Coordinator, Galveston Bay Foundation
Plastic pollution in waterways is a huge problem all around the world with concerning global and local impacts. In the Houston-Galveston area, plastic pollution increases flood risks to neighborhoods when it is trapped in drains, causes water quality issues, and creates an unsightly view while you enjoy Galveston Bay. It also harms wildlife, like dolphins, turtles, and the amazing variety of birds we are lucky to have here. They can easily ingest pieces of plastic by mistaking them for food or become entangled in plastic bags. If you live in the city of Houston, the creeks, rivers, and bayous in your neighborhood are connected to the Bay which eventually leads to the Gulf of Mexico. So, the litter you see in your neighborhood not only makes your local nature spots less enjoyable, it also affects the Bay and the Gulf.
While it may seem like an overwhelming issue, Galveston Bay Foundation is here to provide some steps you can take this Plastic Free July to help be a solution to reducing plastic pollution. It’s easier than you think!
- Start out small. Think about plastic items you use daily and what other options you could choose as alternatives. Begin with just one goal, like choosing package-free products or products packaged in glass, tin, or cardboard when you are shopping. This packaging can be recycled more effectively and is more environmentally-friendly to create in the first place. You can also reuse these items more easily around the house. Don’t worry, we won’t leave you on your own to figure this out. Check out this Galveston Bay Foundation video and accompanying article of local resources and suggestions for alternatives to help you out and share with friends.
- Choose your challenge and share it. On the Plastic Free July website, you can find many ways to challenge yourself to avoid single-use plastics this month. Staff at Galveston Bay Foundation are choosing their own goals to tackle and sharing them on our Facebook page. Some challenges include using bar soap instead of liquid soap, eliminating plastic cling wrap, and choosing loose products instead of pre-package (ie: vegetables and the grocery store). Share what you’re doing with your friends and family using the hashtag #PlasticFreeJuly on social media and encourage them to do the same!
- Report pollution on the Galveston Bay Action Network (GBAN) app. In this effort to reduce plastic pollution, we need you to be the eyes on Galveston Bay and report any pollution you see on Galveston Bay Foundation’s free GBAN app available for download from the iTunes Store or Google Play. The app enables you to easily report pollution in Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, and Harris counties. Examples of pollution reports include trash and debris, sewage issues, fish kills, discolored water, and more. You can also file a report on a desktop computer here.
- Go the extra mile with marine debris monitoring. Galveston Bay Foundation is starting a citizen scientist program to remove plastic debris from our local shorelines. Join in on a Zoom virtual happy hour to learn more about the program on July 16th at 3:00pm. Register here to hang out with us and learn more.
Follow Galveston Bay Foundation on Facebook and check out this Galveston Bay Report Card article for additional resources. You can also save this handy image of some challenges to consider. Pick one or a few, check off your challenges, and keep it somewhere visible as a reminder.
And remember, these changes take time, so celebrate small victories in your efforts. You are making a bigger difference than you think. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and requires efforts from policymakers, companies, and individuals. Happy #PlasticFreeJuly!