The Sixth Annual Rivers Alive events for Liberty County will wrap up in the next week. These annual statewide waterway cleanups are part of an effort to preserve and protect our waterways throughout our state.
So far, more than 400 volunteers have cleaned more than 34 locations around Liberty County to protect our creeks, streams, wetlands, rivers and beaches.
The sad part is that roads and green spaces look so beautiful once the cleanups are done and, often times — as in the case on Islands Highway — our hard work is negated within a few days.
One or two vehicles full of Styrofoam containers, boxes and packing materials drove through the area, depositing countless plates, cups and boxes and debris all along the road for miles.
I do not understand how people could be unaware as trash blows out of their vehicles. Or, even worse, perhaps they noticed and they just don’t care.
On behalf of the volunteers from The Heritage Bank, the DA’s office, several local families from the Colonel’s Island area and Keep Liberty Beautiful, we all thank you for your carelessness.
I wonder sometimes whether people who litter think that the fast-food bags and cigarette butts they toss on the ground will magically disappear once they leave the vehicle. Poof — it’s gone! Unfortunately, that is far from the truth.
Let’s take a look at the life span of some of the main litter collected at last Saturday’s cleanup:
• Glass bottles can take up to 1,000,000 years to decompose! This is one of the reasons you seriously should consider recycling if you do not already do so. Please recycle glass.
• Plastic soda and water bottles can take up to 650 years to decompose. These are also items that easily can be recycled if we all make the effort.
• Aluminum cans take between 80 to 200 years to decompose, while tin cans take around 50 years. Once again, these items can be recycled with effort.
• Thick Styrofoam items can take 80 years to degrade and Styrofoam cups and containers — such as those blown all over Islands Highway — can take 50 years or more.
• Plastic bags can take 10 to 20 years to decompose. These bags don’t have to be trashed after a single use. They can be reused or taken to back to stores, like Walmart and Kroger, to recycle.
• And then there is my least favorite form of litter — the cigarette butt, which can take, on average, from one to five years to decompose. However, some types of cigarette filters can take more than 20 years! Think about that the next time you start to flick that butt on the ground.
• Toxic chemicals like automotive fluids and some household and yard products also can be quite harmful to humans, plants and animals. We don’t need this stuff in our water. Just one quart of motor oil that has been improperly disposed of can ruin the quality of 250,000 gallons of water — enough to meet the needs of a family of four for a year.
Litter and debris — particularly plastic items and Styrofoam — can be mistaken by fish and birds as food and can be quite harmful to them.
Litter pollutes our waterways. So think about how long some of those items will hang around and take that extra few minutes to secure those items on your vehicle or wait to empty your trash at an actual trash can — not all over the road.
Upcoming KLB activities
• America Recycles Day is Nov. 15: During November, we will have a variety of recycling events, including a Recycle It! Fair, a community tire roundup and school recycling and electronics recycling events.
• Take the pledge now if you do not recycle. Recycling is the one simple change in your life that can make long-term differences in our environment.
For information, call KLB at 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.