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US National Parks phase out single-use plastic

Words by Smiley Team

The US National Parks have been a symbol of the United States since they were signed into law back in 1916.

Places like Yellowstone, the Everglades, and Zion National Parks are massive tourism destinations for those in and out of the US – and the parks saw 297 million recreation visits in 2021 alone. 

With that much foot traffic comes a lot of litter – and pollution. To tackle that, and the overuse of single-use, non-biodegradable containers the Interior Department said it will phase out sales of plastic water bottles and other single-use products at national parks and on other public lands over the next decade.

“As the steward of the nation’s public lands, including national parks and national wildlife refuges, and as the agency responsible for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats, (the Interior Department is) uniquely positioned to do better for our Earth,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.

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This order came on World Oceans Day, and highlights how much of our pollution, wherever it is ends up in the ocean.

“Our ocean is downstream of all pollution sources and bears the brunt of the impacts: of the more than 300 million tons of plastic produced every year for use in a wide variety of applications, at least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year and plastic makes up 80 percent of all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments," they said. 

“Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and death, and plastic pollution threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, and contributes to climate change.”

Some of the alternatives the parks are working towards include bio-friendly alternatives like bio-based plastic, glass and aluminum, and laminated cartons, as well as reusable plastic, glass, and aluminum bottles. Similar materials are planned for single-use containers. 

Inspired to Act?

DONATE: Consider donating to the National Park Service, as they maintain and protect the National Parks across the US. 

SUPPORT: Look into local cleanup groups – the Ocean Conservancy has a map of scheduled cleanups.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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