The solution is simple
Plastic pollution in waterways is a huge worldwide problem. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to be larger than the state of Texas and Lake Erie is one of the most polluted Great Lakes in terms of microplastics. The good news? The solution is simple. It’s not easy, but it is simple.
Everyone, everywhere, can take part in a beach clean-up every single day simply by picking up litter when you see it in your yard, on your street, or anywhere at all. This is not easy, nor is it enjoyable, but this simple activity can and will make an impact on our waterways. Litter on our streets, in our yards, and in our parks easily ends up in the lake through the sewer system or wind blowing it there.
In 2012, Dr. Sherri “Sam” Mason, a professor at SUNY Fredonia, led the first ever Great Lakes plastic pollution survey. What she found was that Lake Erie contained twice the amount of plastic pollution than was previously found in the most contaminated ocean sample. Lake Erie was also found to have 56 times more plastic pollution than any other Great Lake!
There are a few theories on why this is, including the fact that Erie has the most populated shoreline of the Great Lakes and that three Great Lakes (Superior, Huron and Michigan) all flow into Erie, contributing more plastic pollution.
According to a Rochester Institute of Technology study, 22 million pounds of plastic enter the Great Lakes each year; of that, 5.5 million pounds enter Lake Erie alone. Worldwide, over 300 million tons of plastic is produced yearly, and 50 percent of plastic is used just once and then disposed of. It is no wonder that so much of it is ending up in Lake Erie.
Plastic litter that ends up in the lake and the ocean is eventually broken down by sunlight and waves, which turns it into small particles. These particles will never biodegrade or go away; they will always be there. Plastic particles absorb toxins in the lake, and the fish mistake them for food. In any environment (lake, ocean or landfill,) plastic will not biodegrade like other material such as wood and paper. Every single piece of plastic ever made is still present on earth today, in one form or another. Even when recycled, plastic is made into more plastic, which will end up in our landfills or waterways eventually.
Humans are the source of this huge environmental problem and humans are also the solution. The solution is simple, but it is not easy. Everyday each of us has a choice to help waterways and Lake Erie (and subsequently the ocean) or not.
Try bringing an extra bag on when you walk your dog and pick up litter when you see it. Every piece of litter you pick up is one less piece that will enter our storm sewer system and then into the lake. Imagine if each of us did this, what a difference we would make!
Another simple solution is to avoid single use plastics (i.e. water bottles, plastic bags, straws and coffee cups). By avoiding single use plastic, less plastic will be at risk of entering our waterways.
You alone are a big part of the solution!
Bay Village Green Team
Monthly Creek Cleanups
Thursday, June 28, 7 p.m.
Meet in parking lot of Reese Park.
Thursday, July 19, 7 p.m.
Columbia Beach Park
Meet in parking lot at corner of Lake and Columbia.
Thursday, Aug. 23, 7 p.m.
Meet at Cahoon Park gazebo.
Saturday, Oct. 13, 11 a.m.
Porter Creek/Huntington Reservation
Meet at Huntington Beach pavilion.