Response to Dr. Gary L. Welton "Opinion"
May 8, 2014, Loris Times
The May 8th Loris Times piece by Dr. Gary Welton “Your Trash is My Spring Yard Work, Can’t We Do a Better Job?” explained our garbage problem very clearly. Like Dr. Welton, I also pick up other people’s trash from my property, and I live on a dead end street, so these are my neighbors! Beyond our front yards, as Dr. Welton describes, this is a global problem.
I agree that enacting larger legal penalties will not have much impact, but that a new way of thinking- a new cultural norm- is long overdue. Currently I am a member of the SC Litter Control Association, and maybe you should be too. In addition to holding a very informative conference in North Myrtle Beach yearly, Association membership is mostly comprised of Litter Control Officers. It was informative to hear some of the stories come out involving Officers applying the law and risking their lives to make our world a cleaner place. Let’s support our men and women who have taken on this challenging duty. Thank you, Litter Control Officers.
Another group that is working to reduce trash in an alternate way is the Chirping Bird Society. This group strives to reduce litter on land and in the water by encouraging individuals to change their personal habits. By chirping, tweeting and twittering about waste issues, people will hopefully move toward change. This group was begun to address the impact that disposable plastics have on marine animals. Since then, it has become apparent that plastics have entered our food chain, and that most of us humans carry a “body burden” of toxic plastic chemicals. Some of these act as hormone disruptors, and others have never been tested or evaluated in any way. The plastic straw thrown in a roadside ditch is on its way to photo-degrading, and after it turns to powder, its dangerous chemicals will be on the way to our water table, our food web, and our insides.
Roadside litter, as Dr. Welton writes, is “an easy fix”, but I may need reminding in August when our group returns to our two-mile stretch to pick up other people’s trash on Hwy. 701. If we do not address the larger issue, of trash in our waterways and ocean, we will continue to pollute the base of our food chain in ways that we don’t yet understand. Individuals can decide to bring reusable bags into stores, and can decide to fill up their drink mug at a convenience store where they won’t be compelled to take yet another single use foam or plastic drink cup. In our churches, we can choose to use real dishes and flatware rather than fellowship with a resulting trash bag full of foam cups, plates and plastic ware. As a County and as a State, we can decide to enact sensible public policies that will safeguard our health and the health of our children and our food chain. And starting today, we can just say “no” to disposable plastic and packaging to take action as individual citizens.