Photo Friday | Putting in the Work

Part of my personal goals this year is a goal to DO more in the community. Being a treehugger means getting a little dirty sometimes, but even when it's 50 degrees and windy outside, it feels good to do something that makes an impact.

Bayou Vermilion District and No Waste Louisiana organized a paddle trip for last Saturday morning to pick plastic bags out of trees along the river. Another group, which included myself, went through the Nature Trail across from Vermilionville to pick up litter.

Although I'm not sure the total number of bags and pounds of trash collected, it was certainly enough to open your eyes to the serious litter problem we have.

The Bayou Vermilion District operations crew goes out on the river in Lafayette Parish every day they can, depending on weather and river level, and they work continuously to keep the river clear of litter and natural debris like fallen trees. Last January, I had the pleasure of riding along to get a firsthand view of what the operations crew does - check out that feature here!

Unfortunately, there's still a litter problem. Especially compounded from the flooding last August, our river is seeing a lot of trash from both within the city, and floating down from areas north of us. It's a problem larger than what the operations crew can truly handle.

And it's a problem that we can all tackle.

Where does it come from?
  • Accidental litter that ends up on the road (flying out of vehicles or garbage trucks)
  • Intentional litter thrown out of vehicles or by pedestrians
  • Intentional litter tossed into the water 
  • Litter floating downstream
  • Flood debris
The litter you see on sidewalks or on the side of the road WILL end up in our river. When it rains, that litter is washed from the road into the storm drain, which then washes into our coulees and into Bayou Vermilion.

If the litter isn't collected while in the river, it'll float downstream all the way into the Gulf of Mexico.

The focus on cleaning up plastic bags is an important one, since plastic doesn't biodegrade, but becomes harmful to wildlife that try to eat it. I noticed very early on in our cleanup that these plastic bags were super brittle, and some were buried in mud from recent rains. Although not as easy to spot in some places, they were still doing their harm.

What can you do? Simply, focus on not littering. Dispose of all of your trash properly. If you see windblown litter, pick it up and throw it away. Don't let it get into our rivers.

And furthermore, take a look at how much single-use you use on a daily basis, and see how you can eliminate some of it. The more we can each reduce, the less litter we'll have to begin with.

Photo courtesy: Lee Celano, The Daily Advertiser

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