By Holly Pellham Davis
On Earth Day, I attended a viewing of the documentary, Trashed produced and narrated by Academy Award winning actor, Jeremy Irons. Just a few minutes into the film, I was struck by how much its message instantly resonated with me. I guess you could say the story of trash, is my story… itʼs your story… Trash is evidence of who we are, where we have been, what we ate, drank, clothed ourselves in, read… It’s our legacy, these computers we used, cars we drove, toys no longer wanted. Todayʼs trash is tomorrowʼs waste pollution, and that waste pollution is killing us.
Trash is growing at an infinite rate, yet our resources are extremely finite. Increasingly, we’ve become a largely “throw away” society, not giving much thought (or care) to how our Earth home is affected by we things we casually toss out daily. But what happens to all of that trash stuffed into plastic bags and left at the curb, thrown on the ground, dropped in the lake, or dumped at the end of a road somewhere? Does it go away just because we can’t see it anymore? Of course its doesnʼt… we know that, but what we might not realize is the life-altering impact it’s making.
Today, there is more plastic in our Earthʼs oceans than life. In the North Pacific Gyre, (one of the five gyres, or ocean convergence cycles, found on Earth) plastic outnumbers one of the most basic sea life forms, zooplankton, 6 to 1 and covers an area twice the size of Texas. Less than 10% of plastic trash is recycled. While, industrial chemicals, oil, fertilizer, and pesticides pollute streams, rivers, oceans, and ground water, they are also polluted by trash.
From trash that began as a super market bag that blew in the wind to reach a body of water, litter that surged with afternoon rain showers down a street to wash down a storm drain, or waste once sitting at waters edge in a landfill or dump site now floating on a wave nearby, an astonishing amount of the stuff makes its way into our waterways. Fish and sea animals mistake plastic for food, get tangled in its path, and take on its toxic chemical properties now broken down into the water, sand, and air around it. In many towns all over the world, people dump trash in the same water where they bath, wash their clothes, and hydrate.
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