Most of us tend to focus on the immediate problems in our lives instead of the ones that will creep up on us at some undetermined time in the future. I believe this is one of the top reasons why many people fail to take action on issues like waste reduction. We don’t consciously think, “plastic pollution doesn’t affect me” instead, we’re just too busy to think about it.
What you can’t see can hurt you. Just because you do not see the polluted air in your home isn’t an indication your air is clean. Even though you aren’t swimming among plastics when you visit the beach doesn’t mean the fish are swimming in clean water.
Even if you can look out your window and see a beautiful bucolic setting, you may be exposed to acid rain, water pollution, air pollution. (1)
Turning the ocean into plastic soup
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of plastic debris in the North Pacific Ocean from discarded trash hundreds of miles away. Primarily, this debris accumulates because plastic is not biodegradable; instead, it keeps breaking down into smaller pieces called microplastics. This Garbage Patch does not look like a giant landfill in the ocean, but rather a cloudy soup in the water. (2)
A mixture of plastic bags, bottle caps, water bottles, styrofoam cups, fishing nets, shoes, even computer parts makes up the Garbage Patch. All of this debris can be very harmful to marine life such as sea turtles who mistake the plastic for jellyfish and seals which get tangled in the discarded fishing nets. The debris is also putting fish, seabirds, whales, and dolphins at risk. You can read more about it from links in sources at the bottom of this post.
Plastic in the Mountains and Streams, too
The ocean isn’t the only place on earth that is teeming with plastic pollution.
In what looks like a pristine, remote mountain region, tiny pieces of plastic pollution were found raining down from the sky—raising questions about the global extent of plastic pollution—a first-of-its-kind study has found.
Scientists have warned we are creating a “plastic planet”. Some 420 million tons of plastics were produced in 2015, up from just over two million tons in 1950. Over this 65-year period roughly six billion tons ended up either in landfill or in the natural environment, a 2017 study estimated. ~ Microplastics are raining down from the sky
Here in Tennessee,
Littering costs state taxpayers millions of dollars each year and creates countless trashy eyesores. Tennesseans are proud of the natural beauty of the Volunteer State — from the rivers of the western part of the state to the lush mountains of the east. Each year, $15 million in taxpayer money goes to cleaning up the trash left behind by intentional or unintentional littering along interstates and highways. ~ Don’t Trash Tennessee
Find a clean up in your area and Join the Movement at Don’t Trash Tennessee.
Be part of the pollution solution
Here in the Volunteer State we have organizations like Keep Tennessee Beautiful, a state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, where residents can get information about recycling, litter pick-up, and education.
Keep Tennessee Beautiful (KTnB) is working to educate high school students, coaches, officials, and principals on the importance of recycling and litter reduction. KTnB encourages all high school sporting events to be promoted as “Litter Free Events”. KTnB will provide a “Litter Free Event” banner and a box of trash bags to all high schools that register. ~ Keep Tennessee Beautiful
The best way to be a part of the solution is to not contribute to the problem. That’s where Waste Free Tennessee comes in!
- Learn how to properly dispose of recyclables
- Reduce the amount of plastic you use
- Minimize when possible by considering purchases carefully
What other ways can you think of to help make Tennessee Waste Free? Sign up to get notifications for a Workshops to help you reduce waste!