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#54 Litter

Would it surprise you to hear that over 9 billion tons of litter end up in the ocean every year?  Or that 11.5 billion dollars are spent every year to clean up litter? Litter has been an environmental issue for many years.  Litter harms physical habitats, transports chemical pollutants, threatens aquatic life, and interferes with human uses of river, marine and coastal environments. By bringing awareness to this issue, we can shift our habits to preserve the planet.  

The Real Trash

There are numerous planetary consequences to our excessive waste production and litter is one.  The land, oceans, and waterways all are littered with paper, plastics, and other invasive materials.    Litter is not just aesthetically unpleasing, it has serious impacts on our environment. This includes poisoning or binding wildlife, degradation of water quality, transferring germs and diseases, and is harmful to the native vegetation.  Take a look at these facts on littering.  

Litter Facts:

  • There is over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean and counting.  
  • Aquatic plastic debris has been found to accumulate contaminants at concentrations thousands of times greater than the surrounding environment. 
  • It has been estimated that plastic marine debris adversely affects at least 267 species globally, including 86% of sea turtles, 44% of seabirds, and 43% of marine mammals. 
  • Individuals are much more likely to litter into a littered environment.  
  • Research states that individuals between 18-34 are the biggest contributors to litter.
  • 50% of all litter is cigarette butts
  • Four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea.
  • Between 1960 and 2013, the average amount of trash generated by each person in the US nearly doubled from 2.68 to 4.40 pounds per day.
  • 75% of Americans Admit to Littering within the last 5 years.
Litter on the road

How can I make an impact:

Action 1: Global Goodness

  • Take responsibility for your trash.  If everyone focused on doing their individual part in prevention vast improvements would happen immediately.
  • Take a bag on your walk.  Going to the beach or on a nature walk?  Take a bag to collect litter along the way.  It’s a simple and effective way to make an impact.

Action 2: Planet Protector

  • All of Action 1
  • Educate others.  Share with your friends and family about the importance of maintaining their trash properly and using proper disposal methods creates awareness in the community.  
  • Make sure your trash is secured.  Whether going to the dump or having your trash collected, debris flies out of trucks and trash bins when processing.  Do you part by not adding loose trash to bins and making sure your bags are tied securely.  

Action 3: Earth Angel

  • All of Action 1 & 2
  • Start a cleanup initiative in your community.  By taking pride in the place we call home we intrinsically want to care for it.  Gather your friends and neighbors for a monthly litter cleanup day.  
  • Lobby your local government for more trash receptacles.  People who littered, stated if there was a trash bin in sight they wouldn’t have. 

Facts References: 

https://www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters/preventing-trash-source-0
https://www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters/sources-aquatic-trash
https://www.epa.gov/trash-free-waters/toxicological-threats-plastic
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/12/141211-ocean-plastics-garbage-patches-5-gyres-pollution-environment/
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150109-oceans-plastic-sea-trash-science-marine-debris/

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