Ever since Earth Day, I’ve been picking up plastic trash when I’m out and about. Back in March, while walking my German Shepherd, Ike, I started getting really frustrated with just how much plastic trash I kept finding in my neighborhood. Grabbing a couple of bags lying on the ground, I started picking up every piece of plastic I came across. It took an hour, and I came back hot and sweaty with two bags fit to burst with the thoughtless detritus of daily life. The biggest offenders are single-use consumer plastic, esp. plastic water bottles (SO MANY WATER BOTTLES!) along with bottle caps, straws, and cigarette packs.
I’m focusing my clean up efforts on plastic trash because plastic is uniquely devastating to wildlife. Plastic trash, even hundreds of miles inland, finds its way to the ocean through storm drains, streams and rivers. Once in the ocean, plastic takes about 400 years to break down and is a leading killer of sea birds and turtles, who mistake plastic for food.
I’ve continued this practice whenever I’m out, whether walking Ike, traveling, at the beach, or just going for coffee. So far I’ve cleaned up and recycled a lot of plastic trash–these photos show the results over just one long weekend. This is just the start though. Since my husband and I are friendly with the neighborhood kids, we talked to them about not littering and I contacted our home owner’s association and enlisted their help to spread the word. I’m starting to see a positive impact and am coming home with noticeably less trash on my daily walks.
The next step is a clean up campaign to bring attention to the problem and what happens downstream of us. I’m hoping that with the right message, I can encourage the residents of our community to be tidier, and hopefully make my walks a bit less work 🙂