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Pick Up Your Trash! Our Parents are Right

Trash can and step stool left to rust.

Trash can and step stool left to rust.

John Le-Si Clarity

Trash can and step stool left to rust.

John Le-Si Clarity

John Le-Si Clarity

Trash can and step stool left to rust.

Pick Up Your Trash! Our Parents are Right

Don’t litter!

It’s pretty obvious, our parents and other adults have hammered that it into our heads. But why shouldn’t we litter?

John Le-Si Clarity
Trash waiting to decompose somewhere.

How long do things really take to break down?

Now, some people might say, “Come on, it doesn’t take that long for something to break down.”

To those people and others I will show that throwing your old hamburger wrapper on the ground might affect the environment a little more than you would realize.

Imagine, if you will, you’re sitting on a park bench and you’re eating some celery sticks. You finish all but one and you throw the last piece into the woods nearby. Vegetables, on average, take around 5 days to 1 month to break down.

You also throw into the woods, an old bit of paper you had in your pocket. Paper takes anywhere from 2 to 5 months to decompose.

You’re walking along and you come across a brand new t-shirt just laying in the grass. Come back in 6 months and that t-shirt would be gone.

You get hungry, maybe you shouldn’t have thrown away that last celery stick, so you stop by a farmers market and get a nice ripe orange. You peel the orange and throw the peels into the grass. Those peels will take 6 months to decompose.

It’s a nice crisp autumn day and the leaves on the trees are falling to the ground. Those leaves will take up to 1 year to break down.

You sit on a park bench and see that your wearing wool socks, nice and warm\; however, if you were to throw them away, they would take 1 to 5 years to decompose.

Getting a bit thirsty, you take out a plastic-coated paper milk carton. That’s 5 years to break down.

You get up and notice you grabbed a pair of leather shoes. That leather will take between 25 to 40 years.

You realize that your running late for dinner so you start jogging back in your nylon sports pants. You stumble and rip a good chunk of fabric off. That nylon will take 30 to 40 years to disappear.

You make it home and see an old tin can laying in the grass. Tin cans take around 50 to 100 years to break down.

John Le-Si Clarity
Collection of trash, some of which will take years to decompose, if not recycled.

It’s not quite dinner yet, so you grab a soda to hold you over. That aluminum can you drink out of will not disappear for another 80 to 100 years.

Finally, it’s time for dinner. You wash your hands and grab a glass cup from the cabinet. The glass will take up to 1 million years to break down fully, yikes!

It’s the next day and you’re at a Fall festival. They are serving hot cocoa in styrofoam cups at a booth. You see lots of old styrofoam cups already in the grass. That styrofoam will be there forever. It will never break down.

You come home with a plastic bag full of great stuff from the festival. You empty the bag and, in your haste to see what you bought, let the bag be blown away by the wind. The wind will carry that bag forever.

John Le-Si Clarity
Plastic bag blowing in the wind.

The point of all of this is to make you more aware of how long things take to break down.

What you throw away does affect the environment, literally, forever.

So make sure you recycle when you can and take care not to leave litter when you’re outside.

Most importantly of all, take care of the earth and all of God’s creations.

We are stewards of the earth and it is our job to take care of it and everyone on this ball of mud we call home.

For more information, this link was helpful for this story:
https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/1543-measuring-biodegradability

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