This week on Ocean FM we discussed the impact that our litter can have on the places we love.
Did you know?
- “Biodegradable” litter is still litter. Items such as tea bags, fruit peels, and sandwich crusts can negatively affect the animals and soils of an area, and attract more man-made litter from other outdoor users
- A banana peel can easily take two years to break down in the Irish environment. As a species not native to our land and climate, its waxy skin preserves it for years. If left at higher altitude in our hills and mountains, the cooler temperatures will take it even longer to break down
- An apple can take two months to break down in the Irish countryside and a piece of cardboard can take three months
- Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. They are made are made of a type of plastic and take around ten to fourteen years to break apart, as they do they release toxins into the environment
- Producing plastics uses an enormous amount of fossil fuels – around 8% of the world’s oil production, according to most estimates
Why is this important?
- Negative actions attract further negative impacts. Once there is once piece of litter, more will follow, and within no time it can create a black spot in the landscape
- Whether a banana peel, orange skin, or biodegradable packaging – the chemical makeup is different to what is naturally found in our natural habitats. If left to break down in nature, items will leach their chemicals into the soil, upsetting the normal balances, and be absorbed by many of the surrounding plants
- It takes a quarter of a litre of oil to produce a single one-litre water bottle. That’s a lot of natural resources for a throwaway item, and doesn’t even take account of the energy needed to transport, market and dispose of the bottle.
What can I do?
- Pack it in – Pack it Out! Anything we bring into nature, we bring home again, no matter how “natural” a material it feels like
- Always pack a small personal waste bag – like a zip lock bag, dry bag, or small Tupperware container or empty bottle
- If you’re out and find some food waste left behind by others, pack it out before it can cause any harm, and feel good in knowing that you’re protecting our environment on several different levels!
- Invest in reusable cups and cutlery, purchasing loose produce instead of packaged produce, and say no to plastic straws, bags, bottles, and takeaway containers
- If you do need to buy plastic bottles, choose one big bottle rather than a pack of smaller ones. And make sure to recycle them
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