Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Be The Change For Animals: Microtrash

A Big Problem
Little trash that is a big problem.
A big problem for California condors, a species rescued from the brink of extinction.

Microtrash and the California Condor from Jeff McLoughlin on Vimeo.

A problem so big that there are entire Pinterest boards devoted to it:

What is micro trash? Candy wrappers. Cigarette butts. Plastic baggies. Microtrash is small bits of plastic left when bigger plastic gets broken into smaller pieces. Bottle caps. Drink can tabs. Glass.

A problem for creatures living 4000 miles from the nearest continent. A problem because it can strongly resemble something good to eat - and good to feed chicks in the nest.

MIDWAY a Message from the Gyre : a short film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

Be the Change.
Here is the result of a 60 minute walk down the beach, collected two weeks ago by my husband and me.
Don't be fooled by the water bottles and mylar balloon. Most of the trash in these bags was smaller than my palm and thin as a sheet of paper.

If a bird or fish saw this floating in seawater, it would look a lot like a tasty minnow, wouldn't it?

Our haul looks insignificant compared to the magnitude of the problem, but every piece of micro trash we collected is never going to be eaten by an animal now.

If you see micro trash while hiking or walking the dog or enjoying the beach or freshwater, will you pick it up? If you hear of a local volunteer cleanup, could you consider participating?

The problem is so big, reusable containers are marketed to recreational fishermen: 
"Preserving the natural beauty of our streams and rivers is every angler's responsibility." - Stone River Outfitters

Stone River Outfitters

I found a neat blog post about making a reusable micro trash container from a cashew container. The blog is called Drifting the Prairie Ocean Outdoor Journal: The Sustainable Fly Fisher, and I have to say that his container for collecting micro trash while out and about turned out to be very attractive. Check it out for yourself - click here! Maybe you will be inspired to make something for micro trash collection too.

Be The Change For Animals: Dispose of Microtrash


  1. Litter is a serious issue. Even in an urban environment it causes problems. We should all do our bit to pick up but it would be better if people didn't dump trash in the first place. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. We were walking on the NC beach over the weekend. I saw a trash can running over near the volley ball nets..but on the beach it was pretty clean. Now this weekend will be an entirely different story. People can be so trashy in public you have to wonder what their homes look like
    Hugs madi and Mom

  3. Ugh. This issue kills me. I used to take Rita to the beach all the time, and would try to pick up all the little bits of trash as we walked along. It was a seemingly never ending job. SO much of it was junk food wrappers - it kinda makes you want to see junk food banned!

    I also heard a depressing report about microbeads - those little beads in scrubs and toothpastes. They don't break down! Horrible, the things we're doing to the planet.

  4. Very interesting post! I know I've often overlooked "microtrash," thinkint it was too small to really hurt anything. But I was wrong! From now on I will pick up microtrash if I see it.

  5. That's awful... for the condors and for the Earth. I don't live near any beaches but I always pick up trash in the forest. Even micro-trash, although there's not as much of it as on a beach. The most common thing I find are mylar balloons that land in the middle of our forest.

    Thanks for your haul!

  6. Excellent post! I was taught to not only leave no trace wherever I went but to leave a place cleaner than when I arrived. This very often means picking up microtrash others either didn't notice or didn't think mattered.

  7. Just since the snow melted here, I've been angered by all the trash I come across on our daily walks. With conservation areas all around us, there must be an untold number of wildlife that could be harmed by the garbage, large and small, strewn about.

    This is a very important topic,and involves something that we all can do our part to make a difference in the lives of animals.

    Thank you for blogging the change for animals!

  8. it really is amazing how much trash you see if you really look. Thanks for reminding us of the harm that it can do and that we can help make a difference by picking it up.



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