A national discussion about the impact of single use plastic polluting waterways hits home in the Hudson Valley.
"The problem is not just aestetic its that that gets into fish, gets into the food chain and gets back into us," says Dan Shapley Water Quality Program Director for environmental advocacy group Riverkeeper.
Advocates say that pollution has long-term effects.
"There are contaminants other toxic contaminants in the water that adhere to the plastic and it's kind of a magnet for the worst stuff in the water," says Shapley.
When environmental organization Riverkeeper did their last cleanup of the Hudson River and its tributaries, they pulled out more than 38 tons of trash, much of which was plastics. Heightened awareness around plastics pollution is changing the way businesses and municipalities are working.
"We had skunks with their heads in yogurt cups and it's just disgusting how much plastic we use," said proprietor of Paula's Public House Paula Young. "And I couldn't do it anymore, I just morally can't do it as a human being. I love this planet. I love the earth."
Young began changing from single use plastics to paper products this year because she was concerned about the impact of plastic use.
"I believe in serving fresh food, and I believe in a fresh and clean and fresh planet, says Young. "Which is why you can't just serve fresh food and pollute the world. So it's sort of a concept for us to keep it all as green as we can."
Recently she implemented wax paper straws. She says they cost more, but have less impact on the environment. And, one customer says it's a good choice.
"Not everybody needs a plastic bottle in their hand, not everybody needs a plastic straw," says LaGrange resident Janet Nieri. "We don't need all that."
Businesses aren't the only ones making changes. The town and village of New Paltz passed a resolution earlier this year encouraging restaurants to only give out plastic straws when asked.
"It makes it so that people can take action in their own daily lives," says Deputy Mayor of the Village of New Paltz KT Tobin. "But, it also catalyzes this conversation about the purvasive use of plastics and the damage it does to our environment."
The initiative came from local students at New Paltz High School, who also created an art project made from discarded plastics.
"Everyone can make changes in their lives that can positively effect something," says New Paltz High School alumna Talia Quintero.