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Making a Difference One Bottle at a Time

Recently my third grader came home from school and told me that there was a garbage dump in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that was larger than the state of Texas. I found that awfully hard to believe, I mean, we know there‰Ûªs trash, but really? Is it in the ocean? Is there really that much trash? So I‰Ûªve looked into it a bit and she‰Ûªs right.

Apparently, there‰Ûªs a spot that exists referred to as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a slowly moving, clockwise spiral of currents created by a high-pressure system of air currents (source: Howstuffworks.com). This area is known as an oceanic desert, never traveled by boats nor frequented by big fish or mammals. But the area is filled with something besides plankton: trash, millions of pounds of it, most of it plastic. It’s the largest landfill in the world, and it floats in the middle of the ocean.

Known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it consists of two large masses of ever-accumulating trash, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches. Each swirling mass of refuse is massive and collects trash from all over the world. The patches are connected by a thin 6,000-mile long current called the Subtropical Convergence Zone, where significant amounts of trash also accumulate.

So what does all this mean to you? It‰Ûªs time to start recycling, reusing and conserving. We only have one planet Earth and it won‰Ûªt be here forever.

Just one family recycling can make an impact larger than you‰Ûªd expect.

‰ÛÏThere is a ripple effect, kids talk, if they go to a friend‰Ûªs house they will ask why they don‰Ûªt recycle. Kids have their own culture and can spread the word themselves,‰Û said Rebecca Clarke, naturalist, Maywood Environmental Park, Sheboygan, Wis. ‰ÛÏOne family can make a huge impact.‰Û

By teaching children about making good choices for the environment, there‰Ûªs a better chance of those habits being carried on into adulthood and ultimately, hopefully, helping our planet last just a little bit longer.

Even recycling plastic bottles can make a huge difference. ‰ÛÏAmericans buy almost 30 billion plastic water bottles every year and 8 out of 10 will wind up in a landfill. Recycling just one of those conserves enough energy to light a 60 watt light bulb for up to six hours; it‰Ûªs like throwing away petroleum, it‰Ûªs just insane,‰Û Rebecca said.

Below are some ways you can make a positive impact on the world.

Some easy ways to make a difference

Combine errands
Don‰Ûªt buy new books, utilize the library, or digital books
Install a programmable thermostat
Pay bills online
Plant trees in your yard
Purchase fair trade items
Purchase from local farms and farmer markets
Purchase paints, carpets, etc. with either no, or low VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
Purchase products at garage sales instead of buying new
Recycle plastics and paper
Replace light switches with motion sensors
Request paperless statements
Try not to buy toys that have an abundance of packaging and plastic ties
Turn off lights when not in use
Turn your engine off when waiting in your car
Use energy-efficient bulbs
Use less soap
Utilize environmentally-friendly cleaning products
Use rechargeable batteries
Utilize water filters instead of bottled water
Walk/ride your bike whenever feasible
When doing laundry or running the dishwasher, make sure it‰Ûªs full
Want to do more?

Call places that send you ‰ÛÏjunk‰Û mail and ask them to remove you from the mailing list
Collect rainwater for outdoor plants (if your state allows it)
Compost table scraps
Consider a personal wind turbine (depends on regulations)
Eliminate the use of pesticides
Hang the clothes out to dry
Install low-flow faucets, toilets and shower heads
Purchase eggs, meat, etc., from local farm
Purchase Energy Star appliances
Purchase flooring and clothing that are energy efficient
Purchase milk in glass that is recycled at the place of purchase
Upgrade windows and doors to be energy efficient
Use a non-motorized lawnmower
Use a steam mop instead of harsh cleansers on the kitchen floor
Use the water from your dehumidifier to water house plants

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