Just when you think you’ve learned enough to be a proactive Florida resident that believes in: 1. Being a contributor to the health and safety of our environment, and 2. Doing what it takes to perpetuate the beauty of our environment; and then, you find out that you’re doing it wrong!
I think it takes being educated by younger “experts” and really listening to what they’re trying to teach, realizing that not only do they care, they’re passionate about helping us to really understand. (Us = Those who are set in our beliefs about how to do something, in particular, RECYCLING!)
Note in the photo that accompanies this column the three girls, Marissa Ricigliano (9th grade), Violet Caswell (7th grade) and Sydney Switken (8th grade), flanking the display board, giving up their Saturday to educate the visitors at Rookery Bay Estuarine Reserve. Their presentation of the facts, the research they did to become informed and their commitment to their mission was outstanding. Here’s why:
They had answers and could show concretely what we should ALL be doing. Why? Because if your recycling procedures do not follow the rules that Collier County requires, your whole, yes, WHOLE bin is deemed contaminated and it goes to the Land Fill instead. All that sorting and it goes to the land fill? Yep. Heart-breaking, so let’s learn how to recycle correctly and save our fish, wildlife and local beauty.
In that same photo, note the “turtle” that the girls designed entirely from plastic, collected from three families in just two weeks, smashed and twisted into a turtle that has symbolically ingested a plastic bag and will soon perish. They’ve done their research about the various critters affected by plastics discarded in our waters and on land and the casualties are preventable – if WE take the time to clean up our own mess. It’s not only the turtles, it’s the dolphin who also ingest single-use plastic bags, balloons and monofilament line, which also strangles our feathered friends.
Proposals are being raised at legislative sessions all over the world and according to Violet Caswell, “Because we rely on fish, it’s important that we opt for paper instead of plastic or fabric bags and stop contributing to the pollution problem.”
Marissa Ricigliano stated, “Turtles that are vulnerable because of the plastic straws, and plastic bags ingested and other debris that covers the beach can dissuade a female from making her nest and laying eggs.” This is especially problematic because the females return to the beach where they were born.
Sydney Switken doesn’t believe that animals have to die because of our misuse and laziness. She stated, “My fellow students at Gulfview Middle School do beach clean-ups and are appalled at the amount of litter and cigarette butts.”
About those plastic bags from the grocery store – they are NOT recyclable in your recycling bin! You must return them to the bin outside the grocery stores because they go to a different place for recycling. This article has lots more information for you, thanks to the conscientious efforts of three dedicated Girl Scouts taking their free time to educate the rest of us. Thank you to our youth.