Earth Day Blue HeronI am neither a bird watcher nor a wildlife photographer. For that you need patience and tripods, and always the right light. But I do try and catch a few feathered friends when they present themselves.
Last week, I was pulling out of the Food Lion parking lot in Princess Anne when I saw this blue heron fishing in the holding pond. Normally, I would have passed on this. The light was not right and I had to pull over if I wanted my camera. To add to that, I had no idea what settings were on my camera. These shy birds are swift. You can drive by them all day, but once you stop your car, they are gone. Still, I gave the scene a second glance.
It was not the bird that drew the second glance; it was the plastic bag, so I slammed on my breaks, grabbed my camera and snapped a 'quick few' to save for Earth Day. Why?
Plastic bags, which make up 80% of the litter on roads and 90% on oceans, are dangerous to wildlife (and marine life), as are those plastic-ring thingies that hold your beer and soda products. The anti-litter campaign began in the fifties. The fifties! So why do we see so much litter on US roads?
Litter is not everywhere. It just seems to be everywhere. If you go to certain cities and towns that take pride in the way they look, you will find that the residents also take pride in their surroundings. It works like the broken window theory. If an area is depressed, no one gives a thought to throwing garbage out the car window or leaving a Styrofoam coffee cup in a planter. I have been to some countries where towns take so much pride in the way they look, you couldn't find a cigarette butt on the street if your life depended on it. On the flip side, I have been to some areas in other countries that are nothing more than dumps. But, again, one has to look to the leadership. Good leaders, clean cities, nice storefronts = pride. And people who are proud of their towns and cities are less likely to litter.
I can't explain why, after over fifty years, so much garbage is still being strewn across America. I know the packaging industry has strong lobbyists and the last thing on politician's lists are a clean America (seriously!). And Americans would never consider Finland's refillable bottle law (Finland, BTW, has placed in the top ten chart for cleanest countries in the world several years in a row).
I must admit, we are not the dirtiest country in the world but when you compare us to other civilized countries we don't rank anywhere near the top ten. Way too many people in this area don't seem to think twice about throwing their garbage out their car windows. I don't mind paper products blowing along the street so much, because they eventually go back into the earth. But plastic? It never leaves us.
On this Earth Day, won't you make a promise to use less plastic and help keep Mother Earth clean and our wildlife safer? If you think that recycling is the answer, please do a little research. Beware the pro-recyclying sites. Dig deeper. One place to start is this site.
Pass on the message. It got lost somewhere between the fifties and the lobbyists.
Have a clean city? Thank your leaders. And thank you! And always remember to use your carry-bags when shopping, or at least use paper.
The heron took flight after the first shot.
FYI: Did you know that even the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is being threatened by plastic bags?