Posts Tagged ‘action’

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By Meagan Knowlton

It only takes five second to produce a plastic spoon. It takes 500 years for that spoon to break down.

That disparity is one of the many reasons we all need to take action to reduce the impact of our waste on the environment. One way to do that is to clean up trash already littering our natural spaces.

I recently attended the International Coastal Cleanup day hosted by the Ocean Conservancy (OC) at Kingman Island here in D.C. – a man-made island in the Anacostia River filled with early fall greenery and chirping insects.

I met up with two other women working in environmental jobs here in D.C. After enjoying catching up and finding delicious cold brew, we heard from several speakers from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and OC, as well as the ambassador from the European Union, who talked about how important it is to keep our oceans and waterways healthy and trash-free.

The crowd of volunteers ready to scour Kingman Island for trash.

A beautiful day for cleaning up trash along the Anacostia River.

After the welcoming speeches, we got to work but first we had to find a good spot to find trash. The popular areas of the island were already very clean– the Living Classrooms Foundation, which manages the island, does a great job keeping the trails free of trash. However, when we passed below overpasses and bridges, we found cigarette butts, bottle caps, food wrappers, and beverage bottles, which, according to NOAA, commonly end up in our oceans.

Volunteers pick up trash below a bridge on Kingman Island.

Finding trash treasure troves required digging into the marshy areas of Kingman Island. Once we crawled under cattails and other tall vegetation, we found great piles of trash — most of it plastic, particularly plastic bottles of all kinds, and sports balls. The three of us ended up with two soccer balls, one basketball, one tennis ball, and one football. For all the times you lost a ball as a kid and wondered where it went, we found your answer: It went downhill until it reached your local waterway.

We aren’t afraid to get a little muddy in the name of cleaning up our waterways!

At the end of the day, OC tallied up our total results and announced that 1,153 volunteers had collected 6,365 pounds of trash. We were proud that we beat last year’s haul of 5,000 pounds of trash!

Learn more about ocean trash, current efforts to solve the crisis, and what you can do to help here.

Meagan Knowlton manages sustainability programs at Optoro, a technology company that helps retail be more sustainable by eliminating waste from returns. Prior to Optoro, Meagan was a corporate sustainability manager in the Coca-Cola bottling system. She holds a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Tulane University. In her free time, Meagan can be found baking pie, escaping to the mountains, or exploring yoga studios in D.C.