Salem Maritime National Historic Site
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  • Human Impact

    Decomposers (fungi, bacteria) break down dead organic material (fallen leaves, discarded nuts, dead animals, etc.) and recycle nutrients back into the environment.  


    What about trash? 

    Some of our trash takes a long time to biodegrade (break down in the environment).  

    • Paper towel: 4 weeks 
    • Milk carton: 3 months 
    • Plastic bag: 20 years 
    • Tin can: 50 years 
    • Aluminum can: 200 years 
    • Plastic straw: 200 years 
    • Plastic bottles and utensils: 450 years 
    • Plastic caps and lids: up to 1,000 years  
    How long?

    The first step towards being responsible stewards is to gather information and knowledge.

    What we know can influence our choices.

    Sometimes little actions may seem too small to matter, but together our

    choices add up to meaningful change.

    Learn more about actions you can take to protect the environment by joining #ActNow - the United Nations' campaign for individual action. Log your actions online or by downloading the smartphone app, AWorld in support of ActNow.

    Audio Transcript

    On this site, a lot of the litter that we find is likely to make its way into the river and eventually out into the ocean where it can be very deadly to fish, birds, and other wildlife species. When wildlife mistakes trash for food, it enters the food chain, and can eventually make its way back up to us.  


    This National Park belongs to all of us, so it’s really important to carry out what you carry in. If you do see trash while you’re visiting, feel free to pick it up and dispose of it in a trash can. When you help pick up litter, you’re helping to keep your National Park clean.