80% of plastic debris comes from the land. It is washed out to sea and ends up in the stomach of sea turtles.
While large plastics are a significant pollutant, over time these plastics break down into smaller pieces that are even more toxic. These plastics are more easily ingested and they also act as hosts for invasive species.
Certain plastic contains toxic additives that end up being distributed into the water and the animals that consume it.
Many sea turtles are killed by consuming this debris. Sea turtles are specifically susceptible to the effects of consuming this debris due to their bodies own structure.
They have downward facing spines in their throats which prevents regurgitation. This results in the plastic getting trapped in their stomach and prevents them from properly swallowing food.
Solutions that everyone could participate in include reducing, reusing and recycling plastics. Using reusable cloth bags instead of plastic bags for grocery shopping. Don't litter and volunteer at local clean-up events. Properly secure your garbage to prevent fly-away plastics. Don't release balloons into the air, they end up in the ocean and turtles mistake them for food.
Larger scale solutions could be stricter government regulations on manufacturing. The EPA has enacted multiple laws helping to protect beaches, reduce marine debris and stop ocean dumping. Proper sewage treatment and more eco-friendly wastewater treatment options are other solutions. The EPA, under the Clean Water Act, offers assistance for regulating sewage sludge to minimize metal concentrations in the water