In September 2017 NPR published an article titled, "Guess What's showing up in Our Shellfish: One Word, Plastic." The article details findings made by Vancouver Island University which found plastic particles inside oysters and clams. This spring, scientists were appalled to find a 6-ton, 33-foot-long whale washed up on a shore in Spain that had over 60 pounds of plastic in its stomach that prevented it from eating.

It's becoming evidently clear-this problem is growing, not shrinking.

What can we do to ensure that Minnesota is a leader in protecting our precious waterways and wildlife that contribute heavily to our small local economies across the state? Take for example the Ice Fishing Extravaganza hosted by the Brainerd Jaycees every winter-the largest charitable ice fishing contest on earth, which brings in millions of dollars in tourism to local cities in the Brainerd lakes area and all for a good cause. If our lakes are threatened by plastic pollution, then so are our local economies.

We can start protecting our economics and ecosystems by calling for a statewide ban on polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam. Polystyrene is used in foam cups, take-out containers and other products that are thrown away after just a few minutes of use, and take over 500 years before they begin to breakdown. Let's protect wildlife over waste and ban foam before it's too late.

Myles Hotzler