World Ocean Day : The cost of litter

June 8th is World Ocean Day, a celebration of the mysterious blue waters that cover 70% of the planet and provide a home for  50-80% of all life on earth. Healthy oceans and coasts provide services that are critical to sustaining life on land including climate regulation, food, medicines, and even compounds that make peanut butter easy to spread!


Source: NOAA Why Care About The Ocean?

Currently, the largest threat to the ocean is pollution, primarily from plastics. Plastics, synthetic organic polymers normally created from petroleum, are so long lasting that all the plastic that has ever been created still exists today. Once they enter our waters, plastics entangle marine life or erode into smaller particles that are then ingested. Every piece of litter we pick up on land, including here in The Woodlands, helps the ocean and the life within.

Where does pollution come from?

The majority of ocean pollution originates on land as trash that blows out of landfills, litter that was left behind in outdoor spaces, waste from processing facilities and illegal dumping. Litter can travel long distances through storm drains, lakes and rivers to reach the ocean.   Located in the Gulf Coast Region, litter in The Woodlands eventually makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico if we don’t take the opportunity to remove it before it enters our waterways.  Beach goers and recreational boaters visiting our lakes and shores can greatly reduce ocean pollution by properly disposing of any trash, especially fishing nets, plastics bottles and bags. 

What does it cost?

Litter costs Texas taxpayers $40 million annually in clean up efforts, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. If every Texan picked up two pieces of trash each month, our highways would be completely litter-free in just one year. That money could be reallocated towards other programs working to clean our oceans. 

The top litter items found in the environment are cigarette butts and food/retail industry waste such as take out containers, straws and cutlery.

Let’s answer the call to action for our oceans!

Here’s how we can make a difference:

  1. Coordinate your own cleanup
  • Bring a bucket to the beach, one for treasures and one for trash; recycle what you can

2. Support an organization

  • There are many groups forming their own cleanups. Become involved or consider making a donation.

3. Not able to make it to the shoreline? There’s plenty you can do at home

  • Reduce plastics by, purchasing items with less packaging when shopping
  • Reuse as much as you canbring your own bags & bottles
  • Refuse single use plastics such as straws, bags and cutlery.

Community unites to cleanup The Woodlands

 

GreenUp Results 2019 (1)

Sunshine, community pride and teamwork was the recipe for a record breaking GreenUp  

Families, neighbors, local businesses and organizations cleaned up greenbelts, roadsides and waterways at Earth Day GreenUp on Saturday, March 23. An astounding 1,077 participants waded through tall grass and forested thickets to remove 8,676 gallons of trash – the equivalent of 90 of our curbside carts. An additional 4lbs of cigarette butts were cleaned up out of our greenways and recycled with TerraCycle, protecting wildlife and preventing harmful toxins from leaching into groundwater. Construction debris such as metal poles and concrete, coolers, street signs, full pet waste bags, broken lawn furniture and tires were all pulled from The Woodlands’ greenbelts.

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Photo by Rod Prado of http://www.Hellowoodlands.com

The most common type of litter collected at GreenUp was single-use plastics including grocery bags, disposable cutlery and cups, fast food containers and straws. These highly abundant items are easily blown from parking lots, picnic areas and trash barrels into neighboring greenbelts.

So a simple way to cut down on litter is to reduce our use of disposable plastics to begin with.  Remember, when you’re on the go, BYO! Equip yourself with reusable alternatives – travel mugs, tote bags, reusable cutlery, and straws.

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Photo by Rod Prado of http://www.Hellowoodlands.com

The After Clean-Up-Your-Block Party

After cleaning up, participants joined the party at Northshore Park where they were treated to a pizza lunch and received an event t-shirt. Buck Yeager Band entertained with country favorites and original music as Mr. Cirque wowed crowds with his circus arts including juggling, globe walking and more!

Local organizations provided face painting, crafts, live animal demonstrations and environmental education. Exhibitors included All Nations Community SchoolBayou Land Conservancy, Citizens Climate Lobby, East Texas Herpetological Society, Friends of Texas Wildlife, H-GAC, Houston Spinstars, Let Them Drum, Plant for Pollinators,  Pure Mutts Animal Sanctuary, Spring Creek Nature Center, Targeting Mosquitoes, Waste Management

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Photo by Rod Prado of http://www.Hellowoodlands.com

GreenUp The Woodlands Year Round!

Consider recruiting a group and organizing your own cleanup anytime of the year. Contact The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov to borrow equipment. Please include your name, contact information, anticipated date, number of participants and proposed location.

Thank you for Greening Up with us

A special thank you to all participants, volunteers and sponsors that partnered with us to keep The Woodlands a beautiful place to live, rich in shades of green.

GreenUp Logo. Globe only

Earth Day GreenUp is hosted by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department and was generously sponsored by Waste Management, Keep Texas Beautiful, Berkeley Services, Woodlands Joint Power Agency, H-E-B, Howard Hughes Corporation, The Woodlands GREEN, Papa John’s Pizza and Nature’s Way Resources.