Plastics and Animal Health
The garbage bomb spells disaster for domestic and wild animals all around us. Dogs, cats, cows, birds and a wide variety of land-based and sea-based life are suffering and dying all over the world from the effects of plastic ingestion or due to entanglement in plastic waste.
Waste that is packaged for disposal, such as household waste, is often tied up in plastic bags before disposal. Animals ingest the plastic bag in their attempt to reach the food waste inside. Some animals that are able to use their arms, such as monkeys, are able to open the plastic bag, but for most animals, it means direct ingestion of plastic. A small but effective step we can take is to not tie up plastic bags that contain waste for disposal, so that animals can access the food waste without chewing through plastic
Ingested plastic cannot be digested by animals and builds up within their intestines, blocking natural pathways for digestion, leaking toxic additives into their blood as well as taking up space that would normally be taken up by the food the animal eats, leading to starvation - on a stomach full of plastic.
Studies have also shown that plastic toxins transfer into the milk produced by cows that have consumed plastic, exposing their calves as well as us - major consumers of cow milk, to this same toxicity. The image below shows the route taken by plastic waste from ingestion into milk.
Our ecosystem is very interconnected. The plastic we throw away or burn comes back to poison us!
The image shows how disposed or burnt plastic waste comes straight back onto our own plates via the air, through animals that ingest the waste, as well as through leaching into water sources. Unborn children are indirectly affected by plastic toxicity in this way.
Today, many of us have more plastic toxins in our blood (BPA/pthalates) than natural hormones!
For more information on plastic ingestion by animals, you can find our research published in DownToEarth here.