Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Don't Be a LitterBug ...

The other day while we were hiking, we stopped to admire a waterfall ... just a small waterfall, but beautiful. The surrounding area was serene ... birds were singing ... the sky was blue and ... a soda can sat nestled among the wildflowers. As we walked a little further, we noticed candy wrappers and cigarette buds. And we wondered ... why do some people think that this is OK?

Earlier today, in my car, something red caught my eye. I could see it bouncing across the street but couldn't make it out. As traffic began to move and I got closer, I watched a red plastic cup bounce it's way right into a storm drain. And again I wondered ... why do some people think that this is OK?

Litter is waste disposed of in the wrong place by unlawful human action. Not only is it an eye sore, it actually harms the environment. For example, cigarette buds and filters are a threat to wildlife ... fish, animals, birds, etc., mistake them for food and ingest them. Open containers such as cans and plastic cups can hold rainwater, providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes and insects. Small critters often crawl into bottles and get stuck, starving to death when they can't escape. Litter that ends up in a storm drain may end up in our waterways, polluting plant and animal life.

Here are a few interesting litter facts:

  • Cigarettes are the most littered item in the world. Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate tow, a plastic, and they can take decades to degrade. Not only is the toxic residue damaging to the environment, tossed cigarettes are responsible for numerous fires every year.

  • Among the most common items found during litter cleanups are fast-food wrappers and aluminum cans (beer and soda cans).

  • The annual cost of roadside litter control, in the U.S., is $115 million.

  • According to Keep America Beautiful there are seven primary sources of litter:

  1. Household trash at the curbside
  2. Dumpsters used by businesses
  3. Loading docks
  4. Construction and demolition sites
  5. Uncovered trucks
  6. Motorists
  7. Pedestrians

OK ... litter is bad! It's ugly, it's destructive, it's environmentally hazardous. So today's tip is real easy ... DON'T LITTER. Here's are some things we can do:

  • DISPOSE OF TRASH PROPERLY!! If you don't see a trash bin, carry your trash home.

  • Use an ashtray for cigarette disposal or a receptacle designed for that purpose.

  • Carry a litter bag in your car, boat and on your bicycle.

  • Securely cover trash containers to prevent wind or animals from spreading litter.

  • Cover and secure any vehicle, truck or trailer carrying a load. Tarps can prevent litter from falling or blowing onto the roadside.

  • When visiting parks and recreation areas make sure to leave the area clean.

  • Follow the golden rule of hiking ... carry out what you carry in.

As with most green living ideas, this one is about awareness. We need to think about our actions and choose to do the right thing. The earth, and all of it's inhabitants, will thank you!

As always ... I would love to hear from you!