I wonder sometimes if people who litter think that the fast-food bags or cigarette butts they toss or let blow out of their vehicles just magically disappear. Poof — they are gone!
Unfortunately, that is far from the truth. Litter tends to hang around for a long, long time — sort of like relatives that sometimes come to visit.
Let’s take a look at some of the main litter collected at an average volunteer cleanup during the Great American Cleanup, with facts from the Pocket Guide to Marine Debris:
• Glass bottles can take up to 1 million years to decompose. Yes, I said a million years. This is one of the reasons you should seriously consider recycling if you do not already do so.
• Plastic soda and water bottles can take up to 450 years. These are easily recycled items that can be made into many useful products from clothes to carpets. We just have to make the effort to recycle.
• Aluminum cans take between 80 to 200 years to decompose. Tin cans take around 50 years. Using a recycled aluminum can instead of making one from scratch can save enough energy to power a computer three hours. Once again, these items can be recycled with little effort.
• Foam items, like a plastic buoy, can take 80 years, and foamed plastic cups 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 back to stores like Walmart or Kroger to recycle. They have containers for them in their customer-service areas. Growing masses of these types of plastics are showing up in every ocean on the planet. Please recycle these.
• And then there is the cigarette butt — my least favorite form of litter — which can take, on average, from one to five years to decompose. Think about that the next time you start to flick that butt on the ground. Our roads and sidewalks are not ashtrays.
So now do you see why we need you to volunteer for one of the upcoming citywide cleanups on April 20 and 27?
On Saturday, April 20, the city of Hinesville will host its annual cleanup beginning at 8 a.m. at Bradwell Park.
All registered volunteers will receive Keep Liberty Beautiful T-shirts, and a picnic lunch will be provided by the city of Hinesville after the cleanup.
On Saturday, April 27, three cities — Flemington, Riceboro and Walthourville — will hold their cleanups starting at 8:30 a.m. The meeting places for volunteers for Flemington and for Walthourville will be the respective city halls.
Riceboro volunteers will meet at Riceboro Creek.
At each event, all registered volunteers will receive T-shirts and a picnic lunch sponsored by each city as a thank-you to their volunteers.
We provide cleanup supplies and bottled water for all volunteers. But the one thing we need you to provide is you! Please register ahead so we can have plenty of supplies and plenty of food for everyone. To volunteer, call 880-4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So much litter. So little time. We can make a difference by taking control of litter before it languishes for hundreds of years or more in the places we enjoy!
Upcoming KLB activities
Monday, April 22 — Volunteer for the seventh annual Earth Day Celebration from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at the YMCA soccer fields on Mary Lou Fraser Drive. Call 880-4888 or email email@example.com.