Earth Day: Planet vs. Plastics 2024-04-20

Trash cleanups are good, but you wouldn’t clean up after a sewer spill and do nothing to stop it from happening again. You wouldn’t be happy with any city or county that let spills keep happening.

You can help stop trash from getting into our waterways by getting cities to enforce trash ordinances about parking lots and trash cans, by getting trash traps installed on creeks, and by asking for single-use packaging bans and bottle bills. Start by bringing your own reusable grocery bags, but don’t stop there.

The Global Earth Day theme for 2024 is Our Planet Versus Plastics.

[Earth Day 2024, Planet vs. Plastics 2024-04-20, Trash cans, Trash traps, cleanups, Plastic bans and bottle bills]
Earth Day 2024, Planet vs. Plastics 2024-04-20, Trash cans, Trash traps, cleanups, Plastic bans and bottle bills

Styrofoam and other plastics are not just an eyesore. These plastics from Valdosta and elsewhere entering the watersheds are breaking down and getting into all aspects of the environment. Animals eat them, and cannot digest them. Children play in creeks with this stuff. Adults don’t want to boat on rivers with floating trashjams. It’s hard to promote eco-tourism without fixing the trash problem. Sure, we go clean it out of the rivers, and you can help us with that, but that alone is not enough.

[Withlacoochee River cleanup, 2022-07-30 --John S. Quarterman]
Withlacoochee River cleanup, 2022-07-30 –John S. Quarterman

We thank all the WWALS volunteers who have kept after the trash problem for years, especially Bobby McKenzie, and Russell Allen McBride and family and friends who clean out the Sugar Creek WaterGoat. We thank the City of Valdosta for buying two WaterGoats and building another trash trap, but more trash traps are needed.

Russell Allen McBride and Saige at the Sugar Creek WaterGoatWTXL TV

We thank Valdosta Community Protections Manager Anetra Riley and City Marshalls for sending notices to parking lot owners, and citations if they still do not follow Valdosta’s trash ordinances that require parking lot owners or managers to keep trash from escaping, no matter where it came from, and to strategically place trash cans according to the number of parking spaces. Yet more can be done, such as remind businesses of those ordinances when they get business license renewals, and deny a few licenses if they don’t follow the ordinances.

It’s not just Valdosta and it’s not just cities. We’ve also cleaned up trash on the Alapaha River in Florida and Georgia, including many times at Sheboggy Boat Ramp at US 82, just east of Alapaha, GA.

[A dynamic group]
A dynamic group at a WWALS Sheboggy cleanup, 2018-09-09

We’ve seen enough styrofoam cups, plastic bottles, and beer cans. Many states still have bottle deposits: Georgia and Florida need those, too. And who really needs throw-away fast-food packaging, or every thing from any store in a plastic bag? Nobody! Businesses can voluntarily stop that practice. Or cities, counties, or states can ban it.

[Sugar Creek Cleanup, 2024-04-13 --Suzy Hall]
Sugar Creek Cleanup, 2024-04-13 –Suzy Hall

Let’s not forget that The Real Trash Problem is the Producers, and we know how to stop it. Businesses should stop making and selling disposable bottles, cans, and boxes.

[Single-use trash, The fake Crying Indian, and what can be done about that]
Single-use trash, The fake Crying Indian, and what can be done about that

WWALS supports Plastic Free President and Plastic Free Florida.

We need a Right to Clean Water (RTCW), so Florida voters, please sign the petition to get a referendum on the ballot for a state constitutional amendment.

Georgians, stay tuned for RTCW

Come see us this afternoon, 1-5 PM, at A Day in the Woods, at the Gaskins Forest Education Center, 3359 Moore Sawmill Rd., Alapaha, Georgia 31622.

For more WWALS outings and events as they are posted, see the WWALS outings web page, WWALS members also get an upcoming list in the Tannin Times newsletter.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!