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Monday, April 2, 2012

Trash Everywhere!

Two Hands Project  is a collaborative approach to dealing with the problems caused by plastic pollution: take two hands and 30 minutes to clean up (y)our world anytime, anywhere.”

“Whether you’re doing this to improve the health of our oceans, reduce the risk to wildlife or to simply clean up unsightly trash in one of your favorite parks or beaches, what you can do with your own Two Hands is easy.”

The Two Hands Project is in Sydney, Australia.

AwareNew Jersey has started its own “Two Hands Project”-New Jersey meetup to attempt the same here.  We haven’t really got started yet but last week I decided to do a little cleanup at my house along the same lines.

I have a tall privet hedge along the front of my side yard.  It buffers a relatively boring streetscape and some traffic noise.  The hedge not only catches debris that blows along the street but, since I’ve lived here, has been used by some passersby as a receptacle for whatever trash they want to dispose of.  In addition, workmen, probably throughout the life of the house, have left a variety of small scrap from whatever project they worked on.

This is what I removed in the 30 minutes I spent on both sides of the hedge:


The trash consisted of bits and pieces and, in some cases, whole        candy wrappers and other food packaging, a beer bottle, one crushed aluminum soda can, a chunk of aggregate concrete, a few polystyrene pellets, a handful of cigarette butts, the housing from some kind of electronic component and a few tiny toy parts.  The packaging included cellophane, plastic, aluminum foil and waxed paper.  All together, it filled a plastic (recycleable) grocery bag.

The Two Hands Project focuses primarily on plastic debris which causes many problems in the environment. Their web site explains the problems and they post photos of what people are doing to clean it up.

The Plastic Ocean Project, also sited by The Two Hands Project, has even more information about the problem of plastics in the environment and the dangers to wildlife.

Are bioplastics a solution?  I don't know.  This article at Wikipedia is a possible starting point to educating ourselves.  Bioplastics are derived from renewable sources but are not, apparently, all biodegradable and the manufacturing process, in some cases, is as bad as conventional plastics.

This FAQ sheet, sited in the Wikipedia article on polystyrene, is eye-opening.  The Two Hands Project sent me this link to information on polystyrene from Australia.

Before even getting to the serious impacts of trash, I'm just really tired of seeing it everywhere.  I recently took a walk at a nearby park where, clearly, people have just chucked their trash over the high chain link fence:

So, you (and they) get to jog along the fence and see this.  And, this spot only had a few discarded water bottles; there are spots with much more trash.

On a related note - why carry trash with you?  Most of us have too much "stuff"; including me.  Much of the stuff we have, we don't need.  Years ago I read something about walking - maybe Castaneda - when walking, keep your eyes relaxed, your hands empty and relaxed....

When out in nature, even a "managed" park, why drag stuff with you?  A fanny pack with your keys and ID are all you need and allow you to walk free.

Today, I'll be calling to see what can be done to clean up the area; how to get on the other side of the fence to pick up all that plastic.

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