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"The Deadly Truth about Trash"
A duck injured by plastic six-pack rings
A duck injured by plastic six-pack rings
The Pacific Garbage Patch (a part of it)
The Pacific Garbage Patch (a part of it)
A seal entangled in a fishing net
A seal entangled in a fishing net
A raccoon salvaging for food
A raccoon salvaging for food

By: Amanda Hamlin
Paramus High School

Do you ever wonder where your trash goes after you leave it on the curb for pick up?
Well, I'll tell you where it all goes.

But first, did you know that Americans throw out approximately 250 MILLION TONS of garbage every year? Sounds like a lot right? Well, if you think about it, it is a lot. What's most disturbing about it is that a large amount of it makes its way into the natural environment where raccoons get their paws stuck in soda cans, a seal can get entangled into a net, and ducks can suffocate from plastic six-pack rings. From that, about 14,000 animals are reported injured or killed every year.

In the Pacific Ocean, there is something called The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is almost the size of Texas, which is home to plastic and nonbiodegradable garbage. It is located somewhere between 135° and 155°W and 35° and 42°N. The garbage is held there by the clockwise currents from the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Whatever is thrown out with the garbage gets dumped in the Pacific Garbage Patch, so 80% is from land based garbage (landfills, beaches, etc.) and the other 20% is from the ships at sea (cruise ships, oil tankers, etc.). The ocean currents then spread the garbage into this location without us realizing it.

Even though we don't mean to have the animals killed by the garbage, LITTER IS AN INDIRECT KILLER! Anytime we throw something out the window when we're traveling, we are attracting curious animals to the road. Without realizing it, we are leading them to their doom, becoming road pizza. All animals are curious and want to explore things, hence the raccoons in our garbage cans! If garbage is not stored properly, the animals will most likely go rooting through the garbage because they smell food. They will stop at nothing until they get what they smell.

How can we stop innocent creatures from getting hurt or even killed?
For all of you animal lovers, you can start this movement!

Tips for Cleaning Up your Act:

  1. Follow Road Rules – take all your trash with you! What you bring in is what you bring out with you.
  2. Rinse and Cut or Crush – clean to remove the food scent that attracts animals, cut or crush so that the animals are not at risk.
  3. Cover and Secure – cover and secure the garbage can with a top and a bungee cord. It's one of the easiest things that a person can do to make sure that animals are not harmed.
  4. Reduce and Recycle – compress the garbage and recycle everything that can be recycled! Another easy thing that a person could do!
  5. Answer the Call of Duty – pick up any garbage you see! Get involved and spread the word!
Paramus Environmental Commission
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