Reduce Plastic,  Zero Waste

Week 3: Stop Littering. Period.

Littering is one of those things that might not seem like a huge problem from an individual perspective but when you multiply it by a growing population around the globe, it turns into a billion dollar catastrophe. Here are some littering facts that might blow you away: according to one resource, 9 billion tons of litter ends up in the ocean every year and $11.5 billion is spent every year to clean up litter. $11.5 BILLION! All because we are too lazy to find a garbage bin or, better yet, stop using disposable items.

The same source says that the most commonly littered items are cigarette butts and I’m not at all surprised. I’ll admit that I was a smoker for many years, but I always pinched out my smokes and carried the butts around until I found a garbage. Gross? Maybe. Ridiculous? Not as ridiculous as the millions of people who still throw trash on the ground.

One of the most serious outcomes of littering is that most of the trash ends up in our oceans. You may or may not of heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a huge patch of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Research has shown that this plastic marine debris affects at least 267 species worldwide, poisoning marine animals and polluting their homes. Now that’s what I call gross.

Interested in what makes up the bulk of this type of pollution? Here are the top 10 items found during coastal cleanups according to Ocean Conservancy.

So what can you do? The first step is to stop littering – period. No exceptions. No excuses. And call out your friends and family if you catch them throwing trash on the ground! Together we can stop the stigma around telling people when they are doing something bad for the environment.

What about next steps? Reducing the amount of garbage you produce is the ultimate end goal, so be aware every time you use a “single serving” item and then throw it away. In future emails we’ll talk about some great strategies you can use to reduce your day-to-day waste and move towards a zero-waste lifestyle.

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