EXCELSIOR, Minn. (WCCO) — There’s an unwanted guest living in waterways all around the world: plastic.

And it’s a problem right here in Minnesota.

As plastic breaks up into tiny pieces, birds and fish think it’s food and eat it. Their bellies get full and they ultimately starve themselves to death, affecting the food supply.

But Les Mann, a sailor in the west metro, is doing what he can to keep Minnesota waters clean.

He spent a lot of time this summer cleaning up Lake Minnetonka.

“Two of the biggest issues seen here on Lake Minnetonka are these plastic bags and water bottles so many of us use,” he said.

Mann is part of the American Sailing Association. The group is wrapping up a national summer-long push to get sailors to help clean up their local lakes and rivers.

“Go out and pick up any plastic,” he said. “Then you’ve done your part.”

Mann suggests people use reusable water bottles and bags.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield