The Center for Sustainability and Commerce at Duke University states the average person in America generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day — 1.6 pounds more a day than we did in 1960.
Currently, it is estimated there is six times the amount of plastic in the oceans than there are plankton and by 2050, the plastic will outnumber fish as well.
Let that sink in: More plastic than fish in our oceans.
A study recently published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution stated crustaceans found in the Mariana Trench — one of the deepest places on the planet — were found to have toxin levels “50 times greater than crustaceans that live within China’s most heavily polluted rivers.”
NASA states that more than 500,000 pieces of debris, or “space junk,” are tracked as they orbit the Earth.
We are literally surrounded — by litter.
According to county records, in 2004 Pickens County generated 69,632 tons of solid waste. Tons. Only 13 percent of that waste was recycled — despite the county operating eight recycling centers that include plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, metal, clothes batteries, tires and petroleum products.
Sixty-three percent of the trash was “transferred out of state” and 18 percent — or 12,607 tons — was dumped in a local landfill.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, in 2014, the great state of South Carolina came in dead last for “Public Spaces Cleanliness” on the American State Litter Scorecard.
Litter isn’t just unsightly, it’s damaging to the environment and costs taxpayers an estimated $11.5 billion a year in clean up efforts nationally.
But in the Upstate anyway, things are looking a little better — at least, they are along the 123 corridor from Easley to Clemson.
The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has spearheaded a campaign to combat the litter that had accumulated on the highway — and the results have been awesome.
But let’s not let that be the end of it.
What Sheriff Rick Clark has started needs to snowball — everyone can get involved in this.
Cigarette butts account for 50 percent of all litter so if you’re a smoker, find an ashtray, not a parking lot. Fast food wrappers are one of the commonly tossed things, followed closely by paper and aluminum cans but keeping a small trash bag in your vehicle is an easy way to contain your garbage until it can be disposed of properly.
If you’re taking a stroll and see a piece of trash, pick it up. Little changes can go a long way to keeping garbage at bay.
Remember, littering isn’t just trashy — it’s illegal. South Carolina litter laws state guilty convictions can lead to jail time between 30 days to one year and a minimum $200 fine. If that’s not enough of a deterrent, the court will also impose community service litter clean-up hours.
It’s time for all of us to clean up our act — and our state.