Us humans have it pretty easy. We rarely have to worry about getting caught in 6-pack rings or whether our local squirrels are going to leave their trash all over our lawns. But if we were animals, the story would be a little different.

People create a ton of waste everyday and have a bad habit of leaving it in places we shouldn’t. We’re kind of like little kids who don’t want to clean up their toys in that way. Except instead of making a mess of our playroom, we’re making a mess of the planet.

I admit, that does sound a little extreme and I am by no means blameless myself but, it’s true!

There are many ways our lifestyles affect other living things in ways we would never imagine. Below are just a few things people use everyday that have a strange way of showing up in the natural world. Scientists have long said all living things are connected, so if you never believed them before, now might be a good time to start!

1. Exfoliant Beads and Digestion

Plastics pose a big problem for marine life. We’ve all heard of plastic bags and plastic water bottles making their way into aquatic habitats, but apparently, even the smallest plastics are causing harm to our fishy friends. Researchers in the Great Lakes discovered small plastic beads in the stomachs of fish and small birds. These tiny beads are used in common exfoliant beauty products and are small enough to travel through filters in water treatment plants. Plastic beads can deprive aquatic species of nutrients or get lodged in their stomachs, blocking digestion.

To help reduce this problem, drop your commercial exfoliating products and make your own natural scrubs.

2. Anti-Depressants and Anxiety

Slowly but surely our drinking water is becoming contaminated with the pharmaceuticals we take. Trace amounts of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, and birth control have been found in nearly all public waters. When you take a pill, the body breaks it down and it gets absorbed into the blood stream. Whatever parts aren’t absorbed into our blood gets converted into water soluble particles that get excreted in urine which goes into the sewage system.

Researchers who track the effects these anti-depressants have on marine life have found that fish exposed to very low concentrations of drugs like Prozac can cause anti-social or anxious behavior in fish. This study found some fish to exhibit homicidal tendencies as the result of drug exposure.

3. Dish Soap and Infertility

Most commercial dish soaps contain the chemical triclosan which is quickly gaining a reputation for its harmful effects on animals. Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that is found in dish soap, hand soap, and other household cleaners. Studies have shown that this chemical can cause infertility, early puberty, and other hormone disorders in animals.

To make sure you’re not exposing marine animals or yourself to triclosan, avoid antibacterial hand soaps. Check out this link for brands that don’t use triclosan.

4. Golf Ball Snacks and Digestion

You wouldn’t think a plastic golf ball would seem very appetizing, but they do look like eggs and animals love to eat eggs. Pythons, dogs, and marine life have been known to gobble up golf balls, which as you can imagine is not good for their insides.

Luckily, they now make biodegradable, non-toxic golf balls that will not harm our fish and animal friends.

5. Pennies and Kidney Failure

Turns out your lucky penny isn’t quite as lucky for pets.  One-cent coins that were minted after 1982 are not 100 percent copper, but copper plated zinc. Zinc can be highly toxic for dogs and cats, causing kidney failure and damage to red blood cells.

Zinc poisoning also occurs frequently in aquatic birds that pick pennies out of fountains or ponds. So you might want to consider throwing bird seed for good luck, instead of pennies.

Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.

Image source: Brocken Inaglory / Wikipedia Commons