Fresh Facts

Plastics (General)

Plastic pollution is a serious global problem that affects the environment, wildlife, and human health. Every year, millions of tons of plastic waste are generated, and a significant portion of that ends up in the oceans. It is estimated that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans, with a total weight of over 250,000 tons. Plastic can cause harm to wildlife, such as entanglement and ingestion, as well as damage to marine ecosystems. Plastic also contributes to the decline of biodiversity and endangers many marine species. 

Plastic production has been increasing rapidly, and it's expected to quadruple by 2050. The amount of plastic waste generated is also alarmingly high, with only 9% of all plastic ever produced having been recycled, and a significant portion ending up in our oceans, where it harms marine wildlife and ecosystems. Every year, plastic waste kills millions of marine creatures, and it's estimated that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the amount of fish. By choosing to refuse single-use plastic products, recycle, and properly dispose of plastic waste, together we can make a significant impact in reducing the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans and protecting marine wildlife.

Plastic bags, bottles, straws, and even microfibers from synthetic fabrics are among the most common items found in the ocean. Examples of different polymers of plastic and their respective products are: Polyethylene (plastic bags and packaging), Polypropylene (bottle caps and straws), Polyvinyl chloride (PVC pipes), Polystyrene (foam food containers and packing materials), and Polycarbonate (CDs, DVDs and many electronic devices). To tackle this problem, reducing single-use plastics, increasing recycling and proper waste management, promoting alternatives to plastic, and raising awareness about the issue are crucial actions that can be taken.

Styrofoam Plastics

Styrofoam is actually plastic and a super toxic one at that, made up of polymers (bundles) of styrene- a carcinogenic compound (cancer causing). In addition, they’re commonly contaminated with flame retardant chemicals which both harm human health and detrimentally leak into the environment. Despite the regulations and encouragement of recycling this material, 80% of Canada’s styrofoam ends up in the landfill, incinerators, or the ENVIRONMENT. It can only be recycled in its pure form, so if it is contaminated, dyed, or not clean, it is ineligible- that’s if it isn’t littered to begin with! The styrofoam seen here easily breaks into smaller pieces which are accidentally consumed by animals serving to decrease their health. As they cannot digest these materials they often become trapped in their digestive track, causing sickness and malnourishment. Again once it leaks into the river, it is much harder to contain these issues and the contamination of the river contributes to the global scale of pollution (the Bow River leads into Hudson Bay, a body of water connected directly to the ocean. 

Polyester Plastics

Polyester is a synthetic fabric that has become a household name, thanks to its versatility and durability. From clothing and upholstery to household items, polyester is everywhere. But have you ever wondered what happens to all those polyester clothes and other items when they reach the end of their life? The truth is, they contribute to plastic pollution in the oceans.

When we wash our clothes, tiny fibers break off and go down the drain, eventually ending up in the ocean. These microfibers, which are too small to be filtered out by sewage treatment plants, are a growing problem. Marine animals mistake these fibers for food, which can cause injury or death.

The impact of microfiber pollution is becoming more apparent, and it is crucial for us to take action. The next time you're shopping for clothes, consider opting for natural fibers like cotton or linen. And, when it comes to disposing of your old clothes, make sure to recycle them properly. Together, we can make a difference in reducing polyester pollution in our oceans.

Polypropylene Plastics

Polypropylene pollution is a growing concern that affects our oceans and wildlife. Every year, millions of tons of polypropylene are produced, with a significant portion ending up as plastic waste in our oceans. Common products made from polypropylene include bottle caps, straws, and disposable cutlery. These items, along with other forms of plastic waste, contribute to the pollution of our oceans, harming marine wildlife and ecosystems. This is the harsh reality of polypropylene pollution. As a reader, you have the power to make a difference by choosing to refuse single-use plastic products, recycle, and properly dispose of plastic waste. Let's work together to protect our oceans and wildlife from the harmful effects of polypropylene pollution.


Glass is actually one of the most recyclable materials on the planet (~100% can be recycled in most cases). Unlike plastics, when glass breaks down it typically remains stable and is considered safe for the environment if it accidentally enters the system- that is, it does not release any toxic chemicals in its pure form during breakdown. It can be extremely dangerous however to animals, especially when in shards and cause cuts or penetrate the epidermis and become implanted. Either of which cause pain and discomfort in the animal and may become infected depending on the severity and whether wildlife monitors provide treatment. If it is ingested it may damage the digestive tract and lining as well. It’s important to RECYCLE this material and remove it from the ecosystem especially when seen broken. If you are handling glass ensure not to touch it with your bare hands- we are animals too and therefore susceptible to the same mechanisms! Always use PPE and if possible discard into a bucket at your local recycling center (: 

Oil Pollution

Oil pollution is a significant global problem, with millions of gallons of oil spilled into the oceans each year, it is one of the most common pollutants. The largest oil spills in history include the Exxon Valdez spill in 1991, which released over 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound, and the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010, which released an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Oil spills can have devastating effects on marine life and ecosystems, as well as human health and the economy. Cleanup efforts are often difficult and costly, and complete removal of oil is often impossible. Chemical dispersants used to break up oil spills can also have negative impacts on the environment and marine life. To reduce the incidence and impacts of oil pollution, prevention through improved safety measures, regulations, and industry practices is crucial.

Industrial Pollution

Industrial pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the environment as a result of human activities such as manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and transportation. These pollutants can include chemicals, heavy metals, greenhouse gases, and waste materials. Industrial pollution can have a wide range of negative impacts on both the environment and human health. For example, air pollution from industrial sources can lead to respiratory issues and cardiovascular disease, while water pollution can harm aquatic ecosystems and make it difficult for communities to access clean water. Industrial pollution can also contribute to climate change, which can lead to changes in weather patterns and sea level rise. To reduce industrial pollution, governments and industries may implement regulations and best practices, invest in clean energy and sustainable production methods, and encourage recycling and waste reduction.

Storm Sewers

Dale Hodges Park houses the only outdoor storm water treatment in Calgary. Before 2018, the storm sewers in these areas went untreated, dumping overly polluted water into the river. Now the water (10% of the city’s total storm-water) is slowed down by the Nautilus pond, causing a spiralling flow to deposit larger sediments before entering the “halo drain” in the the centre. The water then proceeds through floating weed beds which provide “treatment” prior to its deposit in the Bow River. Shocking to think just how much plastic, toxins, and other pollutants filled the river unnecessarily. Every piece of garbage you see in your neighbourhoods or elsewhere doesn’t just disappear- it enters storm sewers, the rivers, animals’ bodies- unless you do something.