Monday, April 19, 2010

223 lbs

What is 223 lbs?  Here's a short list of what might amount to 223 lbs:
  • 15 Red Foxes, or
  • 99 Red-tailed Hawks, or
  • 178 Gray Squirrels, or
  • 676 Mourning Doves, or
  • 202,359 Monarch Butterflies
All of the above species can be found at Westmoreland Sanctuary, though only one of them may be found in the quanities indicated (Gray Squirrel).

This also weighs 223 lbs:

Why all the garbage?  Well, this is all the garbage we removed from the side of the road this weekend during our Chestnut Ridge Road Clean-up.  The stretch of Chestnut Ridge Road adjacent to the sanctuary is approximately 0.8 miles.  That's a whole lot of garbage in less than one mile of a relatively quiet road.

So what kind of garbage did we pick up?  Well, in addition to the mailbox and hubcaps, there was an assortment of plastic bags, plastic and styrofoam food containers, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles, paper and styrofoam coffee cups, plastic drink lids, paper bags, cigarette butts, plastic flagging and caution tape, soggy magazines and phonebooks, leather gloves and an 8-track tape.

Obviously most of these items were accidentally, carelessly, or purposely tossed out of the window of passing cars.  What is the purpose of littering?  I really don't know.  Litter doesn't just disappear when its tossed from a moving vehicle.  Where ever it lands, it persists.  And some of these items hang around for a very long time.  For instance, the following items require X amount of years to decompose under ideal conditions:
  • Newspaper - 6 weeks
  • Cigarette butt - 1-50 years
  • Plastic bag - 10-20 years
  • Leather - 50 years
  • Foamed Plastic Cup - 50 years
  • Aluminum Can - 80-200 years
  • Plastic Beverage Bottle - 450 years
  • Glass Bottle - 1 million years to never

This Thursday, April 22 is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  I hope everyone can find some small way to say thank you to our planet (the only one we have) by picking up litter, planting a tree, reducing household electricity or water consumption, etc.  Feeling festive?  Visit the Earth Day Network and find an Earth Day celebration near you.

And remember, everyone's least favorite bug is a Litter Bug.

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

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