I worry about the planet. I have since I was a child. Maybe it was the camping and fishing trips my parents took us on where the adage leave nothing behind was drilled into our young heads. Or maybe it was those anti-littering ads that ran on TV and billboards, or the lessons I learned as a Girl Scout about the importance of protecting nature.
Whatever sparked my concern was enough to make me pause one day as I overlooked a small stream near my home. A rusted bicycle stuck up from the water as an eddy of garbage swirled around one wheel. The vision so disturbed my 12-year-old self, that I waded into the river and extracted the bike and some of the garbage. When the stream again flowed free and clear, I rejoiced.
As an adult, I have worked hard to do my part, so much so that family members sometimes derisively call me Eco Annie when I complain about who forgot the reusable cloth shopping bags or who put the wrong stuff in the recycle bin. I ball up plastic bags to return to grocery stores. I compost, feeding the insects that make beautiful soil for my vegetable garden. I purchase products that are biodegradable and, when I scuba dive, I retrieve garbage that has found its way into the sea.
I mention this because of an article I just read, one that has me damned depressed. “More than a million tons a year of America’s plastic trash isn’t ending up where it should. The equivalent of as many as 1,300 plastic grocery bags per person is landing in places such as oceans and roadways,” said the Associate Press article, “Study says much trash is going astray.” While the U.S. was not previously ranked in the world’s top-ten worst offenders for plastic waste in oceans, the study says we now sit as high as third on that list.
One of the problems is the fact that many countries no longer take our garbage. According to the study, U.S. exports of plastic waste have declined nearly 70%. And those countries that still accept our recyclable plastic, are not doing their jobs. Fifty-one percent of the plastic waste we ship abroad is routinely mismanaged.
Consider, as just one example of our plastic trash problem, that The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to cover an area twice the size of Texas, a swirling storm of mostly floating plastic, one of five such patches in our oceans.
Industries are trying. Modernized recycling operations are being funded and there’s a push for new packaging standards. But, let’s face it, if we, the people, don’t do what we can our world may one day resemble a vast garbage dump.
There are those who say other countries must also bear the burden of cleaning up the Earth, and while they’re correct let’s remember that the U.S. is the number one generator of waste in the world, with one study estimating that each of us produces 1,600 pounds of garbage annually.
Jena Jambeck, an environmental engineering professor at the University of Georgia, had the last word in the AP article. “The best thing you can do environmentally is to produce no waste at all.”
While that’s probably an impossible goal, I believe we can, at least, do better.
Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.
When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers.
And then the girl vanishes.
While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.
Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.
When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.