Archive for February, 2008

The Great American Clean Up Starts Today

March 1 heralds the start of the Great American Clean Up. As Environmental Commissioner of the 35th Council District in Nashville, I’ll be organizing three or more clean ups. At least once a week, I’ll go out and pick up trash around my home.

Last Wednesday night, I had an appointment in a Belle Meade office complex. Belle Meade is one of the pricier areas of Nashville, not the 35th district. I parked by a mostly full Mello Yello plastic bottle in the parking lot. Normally, I would leave the bottle, but now I’m picking up plastic bottles in parking lots. Since I couldn’t find a recycling bin in the lobby of the office building, I just tossed the bottle in the trash. I think it’s better to put it in a trash can than leave it in the parking lot. I had to pick the lesser of two evils: toss a recyclable bottle in the trash or leave it in the parking lot. You know, it’s kind of like voting for president.

Try to pick up at least one piece of litter a day for the next three months to celebrate the Great American Clean Up. From the Keep America Beautiful website, here are other suggestions:

* Work with the local civic groups to identify and eliminate eyesores, and beautify the local environment.
* Pick up a piece of litter every day.
* Keep a litter bag in your car or your recreational vehicle so you dispose of litter properly.
* Create a trash fishing contest in your waterway to increase awareness about illegal dumping and littering.
* Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper asking others to respect public lands and keep them clean.
* Help your local schools conduct recycling drives and clean-up projects.
* Create a beautiful green space by planting trees and shrubs in an area in need of improvement.
* Ask local businesses to adopt-a-spot and take care of it.
* Paint and fix up playground equipment.
* Organize a paint-out with family and friends, and create a community paintbrush mural over a wall of illegal graffiti.
* Recycle your old tires.
* Report graffiti to your local authorities.
* Donate your old computer equipment or dispose of it properly.
* Conduct a recycling drive in your neighborhood or your business.
* Volunteer to help your employer conduct paper recycling drives at work.
* Donate gently used clothes to needy organizations and shelters and identify other items that you can reuse.
* Compost yard and food waste and seek advice if you don’t know how.
* Find out how pollution in stormdrain runoff can impact our aquifers and ecosystems, and be passionate about doing your part to reduce litter and solid waste.
* Ask your local government officials to establish regular community improvement activities, and to support and promote volunteer efforts.
* Help your library establish an environmental corner that offers books and other educational materials about taking care of the Earth.

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The Mad Bag Lady of Rodd Point

I love this story from the Sydney Morning Herald about Kylie Davis, one woman bagging one bag of litter a day.

“Plastic bags had wrapped themselves around the mangroves, chip packets floated across the rocks, and the tide brought in literally hundreds of plastic water and soft drink bottles. The little beaches with their sandstone outcrops were full of bottle tops, ice-cream wrappers, milk containers, fishing line and all manner of disgusting things.

“The picnic ground had its barbecues regularly cleaned by the council, and the bins emptied, but the rubbish spread by inquisitive birds or senseless party goers was left across the field. Our puppy did what all puppies do: she promptly started to eat everything.”

“This is unbearable,” I told my husband, Mark. “I cannot walk here every day and just think about what a disgrace it is.”

“And I remembered a girl I once travelled with on a cycling tour of Tasmania. She stuffed her pockets full of plastic bags and each time she saw roadside rubbish, she stopped her bike and filled up her bag.”

“I can’t fix it all. But I can leave it better than I found it,” was her motto.

Let’s all adopt that motto. I’ll remember it when I’m overwhelmed about the amount of litter in my neighborhood. Thanks, Kylie!

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Plastic Continents on the Earth

plasticearth_0330.jpgWatching the Altered Oceans videos last night made me cry. We’ve progressed from birds, strangled in six-pack rings, to young birds dying from eating a diet of plastic floating in our oceans. What do we do about plastic? Plastic simplifies our lives. Did you give up plastic for Lent this year? No, I didn’t think you did.

I input type on a plastic keyboard linked to a desktop computer housed in plastic. I’m perched on an office chair with plastic molded arms. There is a plastic lampshade on the cheap 80s floor lamp in our home office. The shade is ugly. Should I toss it into the Harpeth River; let it flow into the Tennessee River into the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico to join a plastic garbage patch in the oceans?

My cell phone is encased in plastic. I brush my teeth with a plastic toothbrush. Plastic bottles hold face cleanser, face moisturizer, body lotion. My eyeglasses contain plastic, even lightweight plastic lenses.

We buy orange juice and milk in large one-gallon plastic jugs. What will happen to the plastic casings on the analog TVs that we will soon discard?

Plastic plates on light switches and electrical plugs are in every room of our home. My cocketiel and cats eat from plastic dishes. Only the dog and the humans eat from glass dishes.

Many years ago for lunch, I heated some lasagna in a plastic Tupperware container in the microwave at work. I remember chewing some burned cheesy, noodle blob. I later was convinced that I had eaten a bit of plastic from the container because the sides were deformed by the heat. As a human, do I deserve to have a belly full of plastic like those young albatrosses in the video? Is there plastic somewhere in my digestive system? I’ve seen my dog eat a plastic frisbee.

The more I blog and learn about our Planet Trash with its Plastic Continents in the Oceans, the more I am convinced that we will destroy ourselves by our luxuries, our plastics.

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And God Gave Man Dominion Over the Earth?

We have ruined the Earth. Go to this site and view the two videos, Trashing our Oceans and The Plastic Diet.

What have we done? Is there anything we can do to reverse this tragedy?

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From the Sierra Club,

The Climate Challenge. Go here to see how good of a job you can do.

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Illegal Solicitations

It’s not legal to hang solicitations on my mailbox. These can be placed on my front door, but not the mailbox. That’s for mail which has postage paid. Also, things left hanging on my mailbox tend to be ignored by homeowners and wind up in the streets.

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These guys, Garner’s General Contracting, really thought they had an opportunity to make a buck. Their illegal flyer solicited helping victims through their tornado damage, but our neighborhood luckily didn’t have tornado damage. We had stuff that was blown in from other neighborhoods receiving damage.

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Branstetter Property Dumping

Cecil Branstetter, a well-respected Nashville lawyer, owns a lot of the property around the subdivision, where we live. Since the property is undeveloped, some people assume that it’s alright to dump their trash there. While Mr. Branstetter doesn’t approve of the dumping, he doesn’t do anything to clean up the property, since he didn’t put the garbage there. Unfortunately, the nearby residents, who don’t dump on the property either, suffer from the scavengers and the winds that litter our property with the trash. And I suspect that underage drinkers hang out there, since I’ve found beer bottles, both opened and unopened, dumped there. Metro placed two No Dumping signs there, but I’ve noticed little improvement. Here are images of trash I discovered there a few weeks ago:

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