By Lauren Woodfill
While at the park yesterday, I noticed an all too familiar sight. In between giggling kids rolling in the grass, friends enjoying the summer sun, and families, trash echoed the past park goers. Chip bags floated by my feet, crunching like the snacks they once held, water bottles rolled down paths, and plastic forks speared the dirt. A headless Spiderman action figure lay forgotten next me.
With Coastal Cleanup Day coming up next month, I have been thinking more about the litter all around me. While I do not know how long the headless Spiderman will be roaming the planet, on average, plastic water bottles will remain for at least 600-1,000 years before they decompose. Needless to say, the headless Spiderman will be around for a long time. While plastics often can be recycled, the vast majority of plastic products consumed are not, and instead go straight to the landfill, or worse, into the ocean.
The consumption of plastics, and other convenient consumables that I saw left behind at the park, has become a daily reality of our world, but as consumers, community members, and citizen scientists, we have power to make changes. Our collective actions can make a difference!
We invite you to enter The Watershed Project’s 30 Day Trash Pickup Challenge! Pick up at least one piece of trash each day for 30 days, collect it, and on the final day, September 14th, take a photo of your collected trash and include a brief commentary or analysis of the contents. Please post your photo on either Instragram or Facebook using the hashtag #30trashpickup, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All entries will have a chance to win a prize!
Tips: Make sure your trash collection is in a clear container or displayed so the contests are visible. Your commentary doesn’t have to be long or detailed, just a quick shout out about what you noticed while picking up trash. You could keep a daily log of what you pick up, you could focus on a single item, you could just pick up the first piece of trash you see each day—it’s up to you.
To me, this daily act of picking up a piece of plastic and preventing it from entering the ocean is a daily reminder, both of the challenges we face and of the power we as individuals have to combat it.
At the end of the 30 days, we hope you can join us at one of the many Coastal Cleanup Day locations, including at Albany Bulb and Shimada Friendship Park in Richmond!