After 40 years we celebrate earth day 2010. Do we plant trees, use less power, don’t drive or recycle? This earth day 2010 we decided to have a look at our local Wal-Mart Super center’s plastic bags. After watching a small dust devil carry away several plastic bags in the parking lot, we wanted to find out where they went. We were shocked to find that nearly every plastic bag that blew across the highway ended up in our local forest game reserve. And there were tons!
Plastic bags are used every single day by the millions for purchased items at nearly every retail store in the U.S. and around the world. Plastic is attributing to some of the worse, and nearly irreversible, pollution in our oceans and water ways. The great plastic barrier reef in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans has been a cause for major alarm in oceanic biology. Since plastic tends to break down quickly into small and even microscopic pieces, it is easily ingested by a wide myriad of ocean life forms. This includes many animals, some as small as plankton and/or as large as blue whales. That equates to about 99% of all oceanic life that have ingested or have some way been affected by plastic.
Even more disturbing on our 2010 earth day trip, was our discovery of large plastic bag deposits along the natural barrier of our local wildlife preserve. The Citrus county Withlacoochee Game reserve borders highway 44 and the local Wal-Mart/Lowe’s super centers. A prevailing wind tends to blow plastic and other particles of hazardous debris into this forest from along the highway and from the large parking lot that surrounds each store.
After nearly four hours of difficult earth day 2010work, we were able to remove two entire truckloads of plastic bag and plastic material. Unfortunately, we also found evidence of wildlife being affected by plastic bags. Gopher tortoises, scrub jays and several other endemic species have been severely affected by the prevailing winds and plastic bags. We found evidence of endangered species using plastic bags for nesting material (scrub jays) as well as tortoises and other species struggling through under story brush littered with plastic bags.
Our two truckloads yielded about a dozen 20 gallon trash bags completely full of plastic debris and bags. We were able to recycle 100% of our debris through our local landfill which is just minutes down the street, saving gas and lowering our carbon footprint in the process.
You can have an earth day every day by refusing to use plastic bags. Tote bags of all kinds are for sale, for free and for real. Using cotton or other natural fiber tote bag for groceries and everyday shopping can eliminate our dependence on wasteful products like plastic bags. Simple everyday solutions to our biggest problems are within everyone’s grasp. Don’t let earth day 2010 be your excuse to act environmentally responsible. Everyday is earth day!