I am seriously getting an Adopt A Spot!
I have been picking up litter my entire life and I’m finally getting a JRM Adopt a Spot. The most common types of litter found in our waterways are cigarette butts, plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers, balloons, and fast-food cutlery such as straws, cups, plates, forks, knives, and spoons. Plastic litter is particularly problematic – it can last indefinitely. After it breaks down, it persists as micro particles which can have harmful but largely unstudied effects on human health.
Litter is not just an eyesore – it has wide ranging impacts on wildlife and water infrastructure. Ingestion or entanglement often proves fatal for wildlife. Turtles, birds, fish, mammals, and important filtering bivalves like oysters and mussels mistake plastic items for food.3 This is particularly prevalent in the use of plastic balloons – one of the most harmful and deadly litter items to wildlife. Most latex balloons released into the atmosphere burst before returning to the ground. Burst balloons closely resemble jelly fish – a favorite food of sea turtles and other marine animals. Balloon ribbons also easily entangle birds and cause lasting damage4. However, many balloon releases are currently exempt from Virginia code as being considered litter.
Happy Earth Day friends!