As I reflect on the many ways a person can become a better environmental citizen during Earth Month, I think it’s important to figure out what I can do specifically in my tiny corner of the world. When I was young, recycling wasn’t a big topic of conversation. After all, it was someone else’s issue to deal with, right? You used a product, threw away the package and, magically, it was gone. And, honestly, it wasn’t thought about again.
Over the years, we have become much wiser regarding our need to conserve energy, recycle and limit our carbon footprint, etc. But how are we really doing in this – what appears to be – endless struggle? I’m not proud of this, but I’ve felt for some time: How does my little bit of effort or lack thereof affect this cause? I’ve come to believe every person can make a difference.
Although I didn’t see the overall big picture until later in life, I think it was the plastic and trash in the ocean that really pushed me over the proverbial recycling edge. I watched a news program that gave me a perspective in great detail that outlined the atrocities that plague our largest bodies of water and ultimately our sea creatures. Seeing the visuals of trash floating in the middle of the ocean as large as one of our states makes me literally nauseous. What are we doing? How is it that we, as a global humanity, can let this type of tragedy exist?
Some statistics from Rubiconglobal.com:
1.There are 25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean.
2.According to the University of Georgia, 18 billion pounds of plastic trash wind up in our oceans each year. To put that in perspective, it’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic.
3.Plastics cause more than 80 percent of the negative effects on animals associated with ocean trash. Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement and ingestion.
Now, I’m not suggesting you can take on the ocean by yourself, but there are multiple little things each of us can do that will make an impact. Choose one. I’m currently supporting 4Ocean, a cleanup organization that is selling recycled bracelets to fund its mission. Each bracelet helps remove one pound of trash, and 4Ocean has removed more than 4 million pounds of trash in two years. If you want to check out this great organization started by two surfers who saw the need firsthand, go to 4ocean.com/pages/our-story.
Now, I just need to give up my addiction to plastic straws. I’m working on it. What are you working on that will help the planet? Let us know.