The trash that humans dispose of, particularly plastic trash, can be life-threatening to animals. You've probably heard about the problem of rare sea turtles eating plastic waste, and about 90 percent of seabirds have eaten plastic. Wildlife can't digest the plastic, making it potentially deadly. But plastic trash can also be deadly when it keeps an animal from being able to eat at all.
Take for example Yoplait yogurt containers, which are of specific concern because squirrels, skunks and other small critters can get their heads stuck inside the canonical plastic containers, says ABC Action News. The lip on the top of the container allows a small animal searching for food to slide its head in, but it's not so easy for the animal to get its head back out. If the now-blind animal isn't killed by a predator or a moving vehicle, it will eventually die of suffocation, starvation or dehydration.
General Mills, maker of Yoplait, has so far opted not to redesign the cups. In 1998, the company added this small-type advice at the bottom of the yogurt containers: "Protect wildlife. Crush cup before disposal."
Wildlife activists, including the Humane Society, say this isn't enough, and some are calling for a boycott of the company.
There's a Change.org petition making the rounds asking people to stop purchasing Yoplait until the containers are redesigned. I'm not advocating for signing it or not signing the petition; that's up to you. But I am advocating for responsible disposal of all plastics to protect wildlife. If you eat Yoplait, crush or cut up the container before you put it in the recycling bin.
Critters get into outside bins, even bins with lids. Now that you're aware of the harm the containers can cause to small animals, take a look at all of the containers you throw in the recycling bin and the garbage can. If anything poses a threat to small animals, remove the threat. It's not that difficult. I bet you cut up the six-pack rings so animals don't get stuck in them; just take the same approach with containers that might pose a threat.