The Issues 

We cannot walk out of our homes or travel anywhere without seeing garbage polluting our neighborhoods, streets, highways, parks, and beaches.  From the plastic that lines the sides of our roadways, and the bags and balloons stuck high up in trees, to water bottles scattered on the grass at our playgrounds and washing up on our beaches, to the cigarettes that seem to be just about everywhere you turn, we have a very serious problem. 

We have become addicted to disposable items, but they are not truly "disposable."  Plastics are made to be used for a very short period of time, yet they are made so well and durable that they last for a long time.  Many people are unaware how widespread the pollution issue really is, given the fact that most are caught up in their own day to day lives.  We live in a fast-paced society; always running from one place to another, taking care of our families, and adhering to our never-ending schedules.  It is easy to miss the trash if you aren’t “looking” for it, and the problem is compounded when some of us don’t even know what to look for. 

Pollution is not a new problem and generally stems from a lack of awareness and environmental education in the best cases, and complete lack of respect for the planet at the other end of the spectrum.  We all need to make a conscious effort to turn the tide on pollution now, or we may very well be in a horrible situation without future solution. 

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Single-Use Plastics

Used once, then tossed!

A durable material meant to last forever, it is destroying our planet and it's oceans.

 

"Americans alone discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year; only 8 percent of it gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills or becomes 'litter', and a small portion is incinerated."

 

Plastic Pollution Coalition

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Foam

95% Air, 100% Hazardous

Commonly referred to in its brand name, Styrofoam, is a plastic, and plastics are a petrochemical, made from petroleum. Petroleum is not sustainable, and it is a known toxic substance.  The chemicals in the foam can leach into food (especially when it is hot), and can cause serious health problems including cancer, neurological issues, headaches, fatigue, and more. 

 

To go step further upstream, foam has been proven harmful to those that manufacture the stuff.  Foam is light and easily crumbles into smaller and smaller pieces called mirco-styryne.

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Balloons

They Blow, Don't Let Them Go

"When a balloon is let go, it will blow away, only to burst or deflate & return to pollute the Earth.  They can travel thousands of miles, polluting the most remote & pristine places. Once they do, they become a danger to any animal that comes in contact with it.

 

Birds, whales, sea turtles,  and other wild  and domestic animals have been killed by balloons. When an animal swallows a balloon, it can block its intestinal tract, leading to starvation. Sea turtles and other marine creatures are known to confuse balloons as jellies. Ribbons and string that are sometimes attached to balloons can cause entanglement and death.

 

Falsely-marketed as “biodegradable”, latex balloons contain chemicals & can take years to break down."

Balloons Blow, Don't Let Them Go

This is our really sad reality here in t

Micro-plastics 

Less than 5 mm and Fatal

Originating from larger plastics broken down overtime by the elements: salt in the water, currents, and the sun.  These tiny pieces of plastic are ingested by wild and marine life, killing them, and ultimately making their way back to us via the food chain. 

 

Micro plastics can be found littering every beach in the world, even in areas where no humans live.  Close to impossible to collect due to their size.

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Cigarette Butts

The MOST Common Litter Collected Worldwide

"Cigarette filters are made of non-biodegradable cellulose acetate from cutting, forming, and polishing sheets of plastic. Trillions of these add-ons to cigarettes (4.5 trillion) are discarded annually. The environmental toxicity of cigarette butts on fish has been demonstrated. The butts take up to 15 years to disintegrate. Similar to the fiberglass insulation used in attics, the filters keep fingers cool while smokers efficiently deliver nicotine to their brain and heart within three seconds."

 

Plastic Pollution Coalition

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Plastic Bags

Used for an Average of 12 Minutes

Plastic bags are NOT biodegradable as it takes 500 or more years for it to degrade in a landfill.  However, they never fully degrade, but breakdown into small pieces of plastic that absorb toxins, further damaging the environment and it's wild and marine life. 

Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. 

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Animals & Pollution 

A Deadly Weapon

"From getting stuck in nets to eating plastic that they think is food, creatures worldwide are dying from material we made."

National Geographic, "Planet or Plastic"

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Fishing Line

A Deathtrap for Coastal Wildlife

"When an animal becomes entangled in fishing line or netting, a painful struggle ensues. The victims of this entanglement typically suffer feather damage and lacerations from the constricting line as they fight to escape. Entangled animals are often entrapped and are unable to move, find food, or escape from predators.

 

For bird parents, this affects the survival of their reliant chicks as well. This deadly entrapment often ultimately leads to exhaustion, starvation, and dehydration if the animal is unable to free itself."

 

Virginia Wildlife Center

Recycling 

A Good Practice, But Not Enough

The current US market of recycling has dropped in recent years.  In 2018, China, the world’s largest importer of plastics, stopped accepting most recyclables.  Rebecca Beitsch of the Washington Post, wrote this past January, "In making the changes, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment cited environmental damage caused by dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes mixed in with solid waste that can be recycled into raw materials.”

 

The amount of time it takes to pay workers to sort through contaminated recyclables it too costly, and ultimately can degrade the original material.  The process is a lot more complex than many believe, and many facilities do not accept certain types of foam and other recyclables.  Workers spend hours trying to remove plastic bags from recyclables, and those bags clog up the machines thus resulting in having to shut down the line.  

Kent Island Beach Cleanups - KIBCU is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.
© 2013-2019 by Kent Island Beach Cleanups - KIBCU. All rights reserved.
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Kent Island Beach Cleanups (KIBCU)

PO Box 10 Chester, MD 21619