Nov. 28, 2017
TO THE EDITOR:
On Monday the Sierra Club and the North Carolina Coastal Federation organized a trash cleanup at Ward Creek. The 30 or so volunteers, from all around Carteret County, picked up two dump trailer loads of trash from along the road and the edge of the creek.
The volunteers picked up hundreds of glass bottles, hundreds of aluminum cans, hundreds of plastic bottles, other plastic of all sorts, a pile of asphalt shingles, many hundreds of cigarette butts, bags of degraded styrofoam, and all sorts of other trash.
An aluminum can takes 100 years to degrade, a plastic bottle 450 years. Microplastics are microscopic pieces of decomposed plastic, now found in the tissues of most seafood that we ingest when we eat seafood. Plastic bags and straws injure many marine animals. A cigarette butt is toxic to fish and animals and can take 10 years to degrade. This trash does not go away when we throw it out the window.
Our county waste disposal system is convenient, open nearly all the time, and will take anything. Why would anyone dump a pile of asphalt shingles, or any trash, at the edge of Ward Creek?
We live in a spectacularly beautiful place, and plastic trash, especially, is a danger to all sorts of fish and marine animals, both reasons enough to stop littering our Down East. In an area that relies so much on the health of the sea for the livelihoods of our friends and families, we should be ever more careful.
And to the guy in the truck who saw us working and intentionally threw out a soda cup, “Does your mommy still clean up your messes?”