When you see a piece of trash on the beach, do you ever feel compelled to pick it up? If there is a plastic bottle dancing on the edge of the surf, do you ever wonder where it would go if you didn’t grab it? What will happen to a gum wrapper that is tossed out the car window?
There are so many mysteries of litter. One thing is for sure, any kind of trash on the ground or in the ocean is considered pollution. Often times, these seemingly small pieces of trash will add up in a large collection spread across the environment. Trash ends up in storm drains, our waterways, the beaches, the ocean and even our backyards. Even though you may not have littered the trash, you can still make a difference in your community by volunteering to pick it up to prevent further trash and potential environmental damage.
More than 90 percent of trash floating on the ocean’s surface is plastic and more than 100,000 marine mammals and birds die each year from ingesting or becoming entangled in trash. Studies show that beach pollution is infrequent and more common in local areas, but it is a persistent problem. Littering is against the law in South Carolina, even cigarette butts are considered litter as well as a fire hazard. In fact, cigarette butts are the most-littered item at around 38 percent, followed by paper at 22 percent and plastic at 19 percent.
This could be prevented if we were all made aware and pitched in to clean-up.
In our area, there are a few upcoming organized clean-ups that anyone may volunteer for:
On Saturday (Sept. 15), there will be a statewide Beach Sweep/River Sweep, which naturally includes Horry County. Organized by the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Beach Sweep/River Sweep is a coordinated statewide event held in conjunction with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. Last year, more than 3,000 volunteers removed 20 tons of debris at 200 locations across South Carolina. To participate in the clean-up in Horry County, contact Christine Ellis, the Waccamaw Riverkeeper at email@example.com or visit www.scseagrant.org for a list of captains and locations. You can also contact Susan Ferris Hill at 953-2092 or firstname.lastname@example.org
From 9 a.m.-noon on Sept. 29, there will be the Great Carolina Forest Fall 2012 Roadside Litter Cleanup Event, meeting at the Carolina Forest Recreation Center. The rain date is Oct. 6. Contact Diana Lawler at email@example.com to get involved or check out the Carolina Forest Civic Association Web site at http://cf-ca.org.
On the second Saturday of every month, the Cape Fear River Watch meets at a different location to conduct a clean-up of the community throughout the Cape Fear/Wilmington areas. The next one will be Oct. 2 from 8am-11am. For more information, call (910) 762-5606 or visit www.capefearriverwatch.org.
Community clean-ups are an impactful way for volunteers to make a difference, plus there are some personal benefits in helping with a local clean-up:
Get great exercise and be healthy
Save hundreds of animals
Meet new friends and contacts
Gain a sense of community pride
Protect your neighborhood and the environment
Increase self-confidence by volunteering
Some other organizations help spread litter awareness and education across our community:
Palmetto Pride - www.palmettopride.org