To the Editor:

June 5 marks World Environment Day. The environment needs our help, and one toxic polluter is plastic.

Plastic seems to be surrounding us everywhere; whether we like it or not, it can be hard to avoid.

Single use plastic such as plastic bags, straws, bottles and cups are spilling into our waterways and polluting our precious oceans.

You may have heard about the North Pacific Gyre, one of the largest out of the numerous collections of plastic gathered up in our oceans.

The plastic we leave behind today will be here for centuries.

What are you doing to help future generations live in a world free of plastic pollution? I encourage you to help me in my quest to ensure a healthy life for our future generations.

I propose that restaurants, cafés, stores, small businesses and even individuals ban single use plastics.

Restaurants would do the sea-life and oceans a huge favor by skipping the straw in favor of either offering customers compostable straws or not offering straws at all.

Those Styrofoam to-go containers take approximately 500 years to biodegrade and worst of all, they are almost impossible to recycle.

As an alternative, provide customers with biodegradable cardboard containers that can be placed in any home compost.

More than 40 percent of plastic is used just once and then tossed (and that does not mean recycled), leaving 9 million tons of plastic in our oceans every year.

Individuals can reduce that amount of waste by refusing to accept and to purchase such items. The less plastic you consume, the less demand there is to produce it.

Replace single use items with reusable alternatives such as metal straws, food wrap made from beeswax, or reusable bags.

If you can’t refuse, then the next option is to reuse.

Plastic bags only have a “working life” of fifteen minutes, although the material can survive for decades.

I encourage everyone to reuse the plastic that you consume. Plastic cutlery can be washed again and again, as can plastic bottles, straws and numerous other plastic conveniences.

The final step is to recycle. Recycling reduces the amount of waste that ends up littering our oceans and streets. I strongly encourage everyone to take these steps in the fight to end plastic pollution so future generations can live a much healthier life and not be burdened with the problems we’ve left them as an inheritance. We are all in this together; one small step can make an impact.

Teach by example, and educate your friends about the plastic pollution crisis that our modern society is currently facing.

Maddy Stevens