If you live in South Carolina, I’m sure you’ve heard the Palmetto Pride catchphrase “Litter Trashes Everyone,” but have you ever thought about who “everyone” is? Is everyone just the users of the particular street that is littered? Is it only the people who notice the mess? Or does it have a broader reach?
I believe “everyone” is broader – much broader. Yes, it includes the pedestrians and commuters who use the roadway, obviously those who notice the mess, AND all humans, plants, and animals – nearby, downstream, present, and future. Before you jump to the “tree hugger” label and quit reading, just hear me out.
While some of the litter is picked up within a reasonable timeframe by volunteers with groups such as Adopt a Highway, Adopt a Stream (Raleigh, NC), and Keeping the Midlands Beautiful (SC), there is so much litter that it is not all captured in a timely manner, if at all. The remaining debris can be washed into nearby streams, littering other places, and then potentially washing all the way to the ocean where sea turtles and other marine animals mistake it for food. Or, if it remains in place, it can start breaking down into microplastics and leaching into the soil and water. This can physically harm the plants, animals, and humans nearby, but also affects future life as the contamination in soil and water builds over time.
What is Mead & Hunt doing to help?
In March of last year, a group of dedicated staff began drafting an that was released in time for Earth Week. The environmental component of this report focuses on the sustainable practices in the company such as choosing products that are less wasteful. Also, many of our offices across the nation are participating in trash pick-up events this month in celebration of Earth Day. In the Carolinas, the local offices were very active with clean up events last week. The Lexington office recently adopted a 2.4-miles of Industrial Drive adjacent to our building. The inaugural clean-up event for this stretch of roadway removed four tires, two traffic cones, seven bags of recycling and 58 bags of trash, and will be followed by quarterly maintenance for at least two years. The Raleigh office picked up four bags of trash and three bulk items on April 21 during their semi-annual cleanup of the stream they adopted two years ago. And the North Charleston office joined the Lowcountry Land Trust to clean up Alge Island by kayak.
How can you help?
- We all know we should Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – make sure you are actually implementing these consistently. Every little bit helps!
- Better yet, REFUSE plastics and other single use items when there are other options available or when the item isn’t needed at all. Do you really need that straw to sip your tea for 20 minutes while you eat lunch? Do you need a single-use bag for the items you just purchased, or could they just be tossed in a reusable bag, backpack, or purse?
- Volunteer with one of the groups mentioned above or one that is focused in your area.
- Take a trash bag (and gloves) with you when you go on walks and hikes – especially along waterways and the beach. Bonus points if you reuse a single-use bag for this!
- Make sure items in the back of your truck are covered and secured so they don’t blow out.
I’m sure you’ve heard most of these things before, but as Zig Ziglar said, “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” Remember repetition with the four “R’s” – REFUSE, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We can all incorporate small repetitive actions, which can benefit everyone around us, now and in the future.
Ok, now that you’ve finished reading you can call me a tree hugger.