Pick Up Your Trash!

By Lina Younes

On the first day of my trip to the beach, I was getting ready to unwind and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

There was hardly anybody in the area we had selected. The setting was idyllic. The powder-like sand, the warm sea breeze, the rhythmic ebb and flow of the waves were setting the right ambiance for a relaxing vacation. As I looked out at the water, however, something caught my attention.
Was it a jellyfish? Was it some other small fish? It wasn’t a bird, so what was it? Well, although the actual sand was very clean, there were some things floating in the water. I got closer and I saw some snack wrappers, candy wrappers, plastic bags and other objects. In other words, marine debris. I guess they might have floated into the water from the nearby public beach or had been left behind by previous vacationers. So what did I do? Well, I proceeded to pick up the floating objects. I even enlisted the help of my youngest daughter and nephew. We filled two small trash cans! On day two of our trip, I hardly saw anything in the floating in the water. At the end of our vacation, we left the beach cleaner than when we first got there.

Did you know that you can make a difference by disposing of your trash properly and preventing it from being carried by rain into a body of water? Did you know that marine debris, especially plastics, is harmful to wildlife and the environment as a whole. Seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles often ingest floating plastic bags and debris with lethal consequences.

Here’s an EPA video that will shed some light on the adverse effects of marine debris. Even if you don’t go to the beach or live by the coast, there are many things you can do to protect our waterways in your own home. Following the three R’s, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, is a good place to start.

So, next time you go to the beach or park, please pick up after yourself. Don’t leave trash behind. Do you have any tips you would like to share with us? We love to hear from you.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.