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Shore Cleanup

Preventing Plastic Pollution

Key Issue

In line with our mission, the National Aquarium is committed to:

  • Raising public awareness of the negative impact plastic pollution has on the health of people, wildlife and ecosystems.
  • Reducing the amount of plastic entering the waste stream by working to eliminate all single-use plastics in our building, including gift shops and cafes.
  • Conducting and coordinating habitat and community cleanups throughout the state of Maryland.

We care about this issue because:

  • We have seen the serious impact plastic pollution is having on wildlife—especially aquatic species—worldwide. Plastic is a short-term and long-term hazard for wildlife and the habitats they depend on for survival. Most plastics degrade, but never completely disappear from the environment.
  • Plastic pollution is negatively impacting human health. As the presence of plastic in the ocean increases, humans are likely consuming more microplastics through seafood and other food web items.
  • Globally, waste management systems cannot keep pace with the rate of plastic production.
  • We believe plastic pollution is an issue we can stop in our lifetime. We're experiencing a watershed moment in regard to this issue. Consumer industries are starting to evolve to lessen their dependence on plastics. We know more can be done.

Here's how we help combat plastic pollution:

  • To date, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT) has removed over 1 million pieces of plastic debris (weighing approximately 80 tons) from critical habitats throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
  • We have eliminated all single-use plastic foodware from our operations.
  • Every day, we work to empower guests, members and others in our community to reduce the amount of single-use plastics they are adding to the waste stream by providing them alternatives and resources to make positive change.
  • The National Aquarium is a founding member of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP), which connects aquariums from across the United States to present an allied voice on plastic pollution and other ocean conservation issues.

Updated October 30, 2018