The trash speaks for itself

By Callie Bartlett

and Michael Sandifer

When we as a society look at the world around us, what we should see is the thing that enables every aspect of our lives, fostering each of us through the stages of our development.

Yet far too often it appears that people take it for granted, not showing the Earth anywhere close to the degree of respect it should be entitled to. It gives us water, food, a habitat and even the resources needed to manufacture those Xbox 360s. And what do many people do to return the favor? They haphazardly litter their trash amongst the beauty of nature.

Litter has a multitude of impacts on the environment. For starters, it takes away from the beauty of a place, and in an area such as ours where tourism is a key component to our economic success, this could potentially have devastating effects. And beyond the cosmetic reasons, litter can be a safety and health hazard for people and animals, particularly aquatic species.

Since we also live near the ocean, protecting our marine life should be a top priority. Habitats can be destroyed when litter covers sea grass beds or smothers out bottom dwellers; debris can affect the water quality by adding chemicals; and it can be lethal to sea animals and birds when they ingest litter or become entangled in ropes, fishing lines, fishing nets, etc. causing them to have problems eating, breathing, and swimming which often brings fatal results.

In short, litter is nowhere near as innocent as it may seem. We want to encourage everyone to help work together in the Anti-Litter Coalition’s model to stop this crime. In doing so, not only will our island stay the beautiful place we know it as, we will be helping to protect our animals and their habitats, giving our planet the respect and gratitude it deserves.

— Callie Bartlett and Michael Sandifer are juniors at Friday Harbor High School. Trash Talk is a periodic feature written by members of the San Juan Island Anti-Litter Initiative.