In Liberty County we are lucky that we have so many volunteers that care about our community. We have the opportunity to recycle our household hazards waste once a quarter, with our Recycle It! Fairs which are coming up on Sept. 14. On the same day, Sept. 14, we have a Shred It Day! Set at the Liberty County Health Department, 1113 East Oglethorpe Highway in Hinesville. There are also opportunities to help Keep Liberty Beautiful by participating in a local cleanup like the Beach Sweep, which is on Sept. 28.
Liberty County is a coastal county and we have one of the prettiest barrier islands on the Georgia Coast, St. Catherine’s Island. When people visit the island it is their responsibility to help keep it pretty, protect its white sandy beaches and the ocean and the waters that flow around it. Keep Liberty Beautiful has been sponsoring volunteer beach “sweeps” with caring local boaters since 2007 to clean up some of the public beaches on St. Catherine’s Island. To have clean water and unpolluted beaches, we have to fight the damaging effects of marine debris. How does marine debris occur? Unfortunately, when people leave their trash on the beach, or let it fly out of their boat, it puts our waterways and the creatures that depend on them for their habitats in danger.
Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into a marine environment (NOAA). It is a global problem. All parts of the world are experiencing the impact of marine debris. Wildlife entanglement and ingestion, economic costs, and habitat damage are just some impacts of marine debris. Ultimately, marine debris is even a threat to human health.
Maine debris, especially large, heavy pieces, can harm habitats, like coral reefs, that are the basis for marine ecosystems. One of the saddest impacts from marine debris is wildlife entanglement. Derelict nets, ropes, fishing line, or other fishing gear as well as string, six-pack rings, and other types of marine debris can be death traps for many forms of marine life. Turtles, fish, and even birds can get tangled up in these items leading to injury, suffocation, starvation, and even death.
Many animals can also mistake debris for food which can lead to internal injury and intestinal blockage or even death.
No matter who you are in Liberty County, water issues should be important to you. These are issues that all of us need to confront, because over 40 percent of our county is wet: marshes, wetlands, ponds, creeks and rivers. And, of course, we are a coastal area, so we need to protect the ocean from the debris ending up in these “wet” areas in our county. To help our environment we can all do these things:
Keep streets, sidewalks, parking lots and storm drains free of trash - they can empty into our waterways and oceans. At the beach, park, playground and even at work or in town, dispose of all trash in the proper receptacles or take your trash home with you. Pick up any debris you see while out. Recycle as many items as possible. If they are recycled, fewer items will end up as litter or debris.
Boaters, fishermen, and beachgoers need to remember to:
Bring all of your trash back to shore for proper disposal in trash cans or recycling bins, including all pieces of fishing line and other fishing gear. Recycling any used fishing line. Think about the materials and packaging you might be taking to the beach or for a day on the water. Choose reusable items and use less single use, disposable ones. Never dump trash, etc. in the water and report any illegal dumping that you observe.
If you are a marina operator, participate in a Clean Marina program. Provide clearly labeled and adequately sized garbage and recycling bins for your staff and customers. Keep trash cans, dumpsters and recycling bins from overflowing by emptying them regularly. Make sure they are covered, secured and can’t be opened by strong winds or animals.
The only way to make sure we have clean waterways is to actively prevent items from ending up as marine debris whether we are on land or water. The other important way that all of us can fight marine debris is to participate in area cleanups around our community or a school campus, like our Beach Sweep on Sept. 28, at St. Catherine’s Island. You can sign up at www.signupgenius.com, search for firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also, contact us at Keep Liberty Beautiful by phone: (912) 880-4888 or by email: email@example.com to get involved today.