The Great Lakes region, with its complex habitats, is no stranger to environmental problems. Organizations have been working for many years to address issues like chemical contaminants, invasive species, and harmful algal blooms. Many of these same organizations are now Great Lakes champions, working to tackle the problem of plastics!
Like most environmental problems, the best way to address plastics in the Great Lakes is to prevent them in the first place. Our newest partners are working hard to make an impact to reduce the amount of plastics entering our precious Great Lakes. The Shedd Aquarium is working with the food service industry on a Let's Shedd Plastic campaign to measurably reduce single-use plastics used in restaurants in Chicago communities. The project is partnering with minority and women-owned businesses and small businesses to change business practices, educate staff and customers, and support business leaders in adopting new sustainability efforts.
Young leaders are also key to making change in our future plastic use. The Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan and the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative are leading efforts to engage 500 youth across Northeast Michigan with a “Food for Thought” project. Working directly with teachers and the Michigan State University Extension, students are examining the types of waste they find in their communities and schools, and then using their findings to develop potential solutions to reduce waste and ultimately prevent marine debris. Visit our blog later this week to learn more about this project!
Together, partners are diligently working with businesses, communities, and schools to keep the Great Lakes free from plastic debris through sustainable business practices, awareness campaigns, and a commitment to reducing waste. It is with these efforts that we will make a difference in the future health of our Great Lakes!