Drowning in plastic

Ad campaigns in the 1960s and 70s encouraged us not to litter.

I worry about the planet. I have since I was a child. Maybe it was the camping and fishing trips my parents took us on where the adage leave nothing behind was drilled into our young heads. Or maybe it was those anti-littering ads that ran on TV and billboards,  or the lessons I learned as a Girl Scout about the importance of protecting nature.

Whatever sparked my concern was enough to make me pause one day as I overlooked a small stream near my home. A rusted bicycle stuck up from the water as an eddy of garbage swirled around one wheel. The vision so disturbed my 12-year-old self, that I waded into the river and extracted the bike and some of the garbage. When the stream again flowed free and clear, I rejoiced.

I’m in a constant battle with my loved ones about what trash goes in which bin, so much so they call me Eco Annie.

As an adult, I have worked hard to do my part, so much so that family members sometimes derisively call me Eco Annie when I complain about who forgot the reusable cloth shopping bags or who put the wrong stuff in the recycle bin. I ball up plastic bags to return to grocery stores. I compost, feeding the insects that make beautiful soil for my vegetable garden. I purchase products that are biodegradable and, when I scuba dive, I retrieve garbage that has found its way into the sea.

Plastic bags are ubiquitous, cluttering our oceans, rivers and landscapes.

I mention this because of an article I just read, one that has me damned depressed. “More than a million tons a year of America’s plastic trash isn’t ending up where it should. The equivalent of as many as 1,300 plastic grocery bags per person is landing in places such as oceans and roadways,” said the Associate Press article, “Study says much trash is going astray.” While the U.S. was not previously ranked in the world’s top-ten worst offenders for plastic waste in oceans, the study says we now sit as high as third on that list.

Mismanaged waste we ship abroad litters our land and oceans.

One of the problems is the fact that many countries no longer take our garbage. According to the study, U.S. exports of plastic waste have declined nearly 70%. And those countries that still accept our recyclable plastic, are not doing their jobs. Fifty-one percent of the plastic waste we ship abroad is routinely mismanaged.

Consider, as just one example of our plastic trash problem, that The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to cover an area twice the size of Texas, a swirling storm of mostly floating plastic, one of five such patches in our oceans.

Industries are trying. Modernized recycling operations are being funded and there’s a push for new packaging standards. But, let’s face it, if we, the people, don’t do what we can our world may one day resemble a vast garbage dump.

There are those who say other countries must also bear the burden of cleaning up the Earth, and while they’re correct let’s remember that the U.S. is the number one generator of waste in the world, with one study estimating that each of us produces 1,600 pounds of garbage annually.

Jena Jambeck, an environmental engineering professor at the University of Georgia, had the last world in the AP article. “The best thing you can do environmentally is to produce no waste at all.”

While that’s probably an impossible goal, I believe we can, at least, do better.

Don’t you?

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2

A WOMAN FLEES AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND

AND FINDS HOPE IN THE WILDS OF THE ARIZONA DESERT.

Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here: http://mybook.to/wildhorsespb

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