Monday, February 28, 2011

LItter Harms Wildlife

This story from the Daily Record in Scotland breaks my heart:

Seal pup saved after horror injury as litter fears worsen

AN injured seal has had a miracle recovery as experts warn they are under threat because of a rising tide of litter off the Scottish coast.
Specialist vets say they are shocked at the increasing number of life-threatening injuries caused by balloons, discarded fishing gear and plastic bags.
In the latest incident an eight-week-old seal pup narrowly escaped death after his neck became tangled in a discarded fishing line.
The pup - nicknamed Ringo by staff at the Highland Seal Hospital in John O'Groats- suffered the injury as he ventured inshore looking for fish.
Hospital manager Jamie Dyer said: "Marine litter and discarded fishing tackle is a real problem. Balloons are also now a big issue as well - we've found a lot in seals' stomachs.
"Discarded plastic bags are a growing problem - turtles eat them thinking they are squid or jellyfish.
"We save about 30 seals a year and some have terrible injuries. Ringo is lucky to have his head still on.
"We are hopeful he can pull through. In addition to the neck wound, which is healing, he also has liver and gall bladder problems. He'll be with us for while."
Ringo was found exhausted and close to death by ferry terminal worker Marion Jack at Gills Bay in Caithness.
He had a gaping 14in wound, 2in wide and nearly 2in deep, just a fraction from his spine.
He was given his name by hospital staff because of the almost circular wound around his neck.
Ringo has been given ultrasound scans, antibiotics and pain-killing injections to help him survive.
Jamie added: "He's very lucky - the wound was close to severing the tendon by his spine. He then would have lost motor control and the ability to keep his head out of the water.
"I have never seen such injuries before where a young seal has survived. The fishing line almost decapitated him.
"But he is making steady progress. The wound is very nasty but hopefully he will recover fully."

Litter Gets Really Smelly

Littered Plastic Bottles
Occasionally I will go out on a Sunday morning and pick up litter along Newsom Station Road. I don't enjoy doing this, but I feel good about ridding the earth of just a small amount of trash.

My husband gets mad when I bring home discarded, stinking plastic bottles, but then, he gets mad at a lot of things.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Edible Litter

When I am out enjoying planet earth on my treks, I find lots of food products, tossed or dropped as litter and trash.

Well, maybe the Tootsie Roll Pop is not marketed as food. It's only 60 calories and 10 grams of sugar. Anyway, I hate to see a Tootsie Pop tossed on the ground.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What Not To Leave on a Public Bus

When I first started blogging, I had a real job in publishing and worked on West End Avenue in Nashville. Occasionally, I rode the bus to work to reduce my own footprint on our planet.

I enjoyed riding the bus because I could read books or magazines, listen to my music on my iPod or talk with fellow passengers.

But I never understood why people would leave behind their garbage. I can understand leaving behind a newspaper, as others could read it, but why leave behind the remains of your fast food meal?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sometimes Litter Can Be Used

Not everything I find by the side of the road is “trash.” Sometimes, we find things, like car flags, baseball caps, screwdrivers and clothes. Baby items are very popular. I'm always putting pacifiers in the trash bags. Once I found this child's rattler.

If it’s something we want or need, we’ll pick it up and take it home. I once found a red rubber dog bone that became my late dog’s favorite toy. He played with it for years until it fell apart by his constant chewing. After tossing it out in our trash, we had to buy him another one. We sometimes find money, too. That’s litter we don’t mind finding and keeping.

An ATM for Used Electronics

Here's a great idea as reported on, where you can read the entire article:

Phone recycling machines set to appear on street corners

Posted on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 09:29 by Kate Taylor
How many old phones and other gadgets do you have sitting around at the back of a drawer? You could soon turn them into instant ready cash - and incidentally help the planet - simply by dropping them into a slot.
EcoATM has been trialling its machines in several locations, and has now won investment from Coinstar and a grant from the National Science Foundation to advance the technology and get the machines out more widely. It plans to widen the range of devices the machines can handle.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

40 More Tons of Flood Debris To Be Collected

Those amazing people at the Harpeth River Watershed Association will clean up 40 more tons of flood debris this spring. Click on the link above to volunteer your time or money to this great cause.

Another Cup in the Wall

Cup in a crack.

Cup filled with dirt from erosion.
In our neighborhood, we have a nice rock wall, which is crumbling because a developer cleared the land above it and then the flood last May caused further erosion.* Occasionally, people stuff their trash on the ledges or in cracks on the wall. I know that it is neighborhood children, but this is litter.

*Don't get me started about the horrible flood in Nashville last May. I know that irresponsibility from the developers in the area made the flooding worse.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Learn to Build a Rain Garden

Rain Garden Workshop - Feb 25, 9am-3pm   RainGarden  
Rain gardens add beauty to the landscape, help reduce flooding by allowing storm water to be absorbed by the plants and infiltrated into the ground, and help clean our streams and watersheds.    
You'll learn basic ecological concepts and how to make practical & cost-effective aestheci and ecological improvements through hands-on training creating and installing a functioning rain garden.  The workshop will be led by Tennessee Environmental Council Executive Director, John McFadden (PhD).
The workshop is ideal for city stormwater managers and coordinators, local park and greenway managers, greenway design consultants, watershed associations, landscapers and others interested in learning about rain gardens.  Valued at about $75 we are offering this workshop with a donation to the Council of just $25!

Click here for more information and to register. 

Knock Knock Knocking on Heaven's Door

Although I have solicited people for the Census and other organizations, I personally don’t like to be telemarketed by phone or visited door to door. We live on a hill and have steep steps to our front door, so we rarely have unwanted solicitors, except for stray cats or opossums. I was not happy when I found this flyer on my storm door. I don’t mind flyers being put on my front door, as I take them off and throw them into the paper recycle bin if I’m not interested. And I wasn’t interested in this series on Your Secret Life, hosted by a non-denominational church in the area. I became disgusted when I found some of the flyers in the street a few days later, which made them litter.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Keep Our Water Clean; Don't Litter

draintrash_0820.jpgOften I notice storm drains clogged with plastic bottles and aluminum cans, paper, styrofoam and lots of cigarette butts. Wastes should not go into storm drains because the drains empty into our rivers where we get our drinking water. It is illegal and environmentally not correct to pour paint, oil, car washing soaps, wax, etc. into storm drains.

Wildlife, such as the Nashville crayfish, is in danger from the pollutants we throw into storm drains. 

Whenever you see a storm drain, notice the litter. That trash is going into your water.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Great Opportunity to Help Clean Up

HRWA and River Plantation Section II will be cleaning up
Flat Creek Saturday February 26th
Time: 9:00 am till we’re done (3-4 hours)
Bring: proper clothes, if you have waders or good boots, we will need some folks to get in the shallow creek to retrieve trash and debris. Bags, gloves, coffee and snacks provided
For more info or to let us know we can count on you,
 call or email: , (615) 476-6579
The Harpeth River Watershed Association worked with Metro Public Works and me last fall to clean up Beech Creek in the Boone Trace subdivision. The residents of Boone Trace were also hard hit by the floods in Nashville last May. HRWA, Metro Public Works and other volunteers picked up over 8 tons of flood debris in the Beech Creek area.

I am still overcome with the amount of debris carried by our Harpeth River system after the floods. It is important to remove this trash from our waterways.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Trash on the Highway

This is not the title of a country song, but something I get mad about because of the danger, as well as the fact that it’s littering. Hauling your stuff in an open truck bed is not legal. I have spent thousands of dollars repairing my car because I’ve hit pieces of a wooden pallet and a blown semi truck tire on the interstate. I drive defensively looking ahead in the road for pieces of furniture dumped out of open bed trucks. I’ve had a dresser drawer slide out of a truck in front of my car. Fortunately I was able to move into the left lane and avoid it. One morning, I was driving out of town very early, and a hardback book hit the driver’s side of my windshield. It wasn’t War and Peace, but made a SMACK on the windshield and frightened me.

A horrible accident happened on the interstate a few years back when mattresses fell out of a pick up truck and killed several people in a car hit by them. The state of Tennessee has litter laws that outlaw open bed hauling, but folks continue to move their stuff in pick up trucks.

I once spotted a destroyed mattress on the side of the interstate, after someone hit it. The insides of the mattress was blown everywhere. I've seen chairs on the side of the interstate, and I know that these toppled out of trucks. I once saw a semi trucker run over a plastic play gym as it fell out of an open truck in front of him. No, the play gym didn’t survive.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Future Olympics Are Working Toward Sustainability

Here is a guest blog post written by Nerissa Barry:

Substantial Environmental Changes to International Event
Since Rio de Janeiro was announced as the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, discussion centers now on which city will win the 2022 bid for the Winter Games. The United States might be a serious contender. If a city in the United States captures the bid, the United States Olympic Committee would logically look to increase their athletic achievement in the Winter Games, as well as work to construct an environmentally friendly space for the games to take place in.

In acknowledging the amazing display of athleticism found at the Olympics, it is also admittedly a carbon-rich event. Scientists have estimated that more than 2/3 of carbon emissions are produced from the event. This high statistic is a result of the fact that of the 1.5 million Olympic spectators, most travel via airplane.

The USOC members are committed to finding ways to continue the environmentally conscious ideas carried out at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The summer Olympics showcased serious efforts toward conservation, sustainability, and alternative energy sources.  In Beijing, sustainable efforts were directed toward,

               Solar power - Solar power lit up lawns, streets, courtyards, and several venues, including some within the Olympic Village. A 130 KW photovoltaic lighting system illuminated the city's National Stadium, the main venue for the football competition.
               Water Conservation - Waste water was collected from the Qinghe sewage treatment plant and filtered back to be used by the village and other grounds various heating and cooling requirements. This water conservation measure saved 60% in electricity. Rainwater was also collected from the site grounds. In summary, over 75,000 gallons of water was collected via porous bricks, road pipes and wells installed on roofs.
               Natural Light - Remember the 'Water Cube' where the aquatic events were held? The walls of the National Aquatics Centre provided natural light, 'beam-pipes' moved sunlight through corridors, toilets, and car parks at many of the venues, including the Olympic Green.
               Recycling - The 2008 Olympic hosts set a goal of 50% recycling of waste paper, metals, and plastics.

While the Olympics in 2008 had great new ways to use filtration and insulation for the events, the IOC as well as the USOC is hoping to progress that vision to include many other products that will help reduce waste and promote conservation. You can expect these products to appear all over the market in the next year. With the USOC recommendation and commentators suggesting that a city within the United States will win the 2022 bid, a fully sustainable and green-powered Olympic Games is closer then we might believe.

Local Man Wages War on Illegal Signs

The Tennessean recently featured Metro Beautification and Environment Commission advocate, Russell Brecheen:
Russell Brecheen, of the Metro Beautification & Environment Commission, throws hundreds of road side signs into the recycle dumpster at the Omohundro Recycle Center. Brecheen and volunteers drive through areas picking up the signs that are located in the right-of-way, which is illegal.

Sanford Myers/
The Tennessean

Sometimes The Litter Is Alive

Christmas was abandoned as a kitten.
Our house is on the outskirts of Nashville, Tenn., in a rural landscape along the Harpeth River. When we moved into our home in the late 90s, our jacuzzi meowed the first night we slept in the house. A kitten was living under it. The contractor then informed us that a cat gave birth under our house, and he thought that most of the kittens had left. The kitten was adopted by a neighbor and named NoTail, since he was a manx.

Soon, we noticed a parade of cats and sometimes, dogs, patrolling the area. All of them had been dumped by people who did not want them. Gradually, the animals would be rescued or adopted by families in the neighborhood. Possibly, some became dinner for coyotes.

Tiger looks at litter in the yard.
In 2001, our hardened hearts were softened by one kitten discarded by her owner. We relented and added Christmas, above, to our menagerie of birds and a dog.  Later we added another stray cat, Tiger, the orange tabby at right, to our menagerie. Tiger is photographed with an illegal flyer that someone placed on our mailbox, but that is another blog post.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 6-8 million dogs and cats go to animal shelters each year. This does not include many of the animals abandoned on country roads or in neighborhoods.

Is this littering? Yes, in the worst way.

What Is in This Trash Truck?

A trash truck triggers a NORAD alarm in this story from

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Use for Trash

I hate trash, but this is a great use of our trash:

How Not to Compost

Since I started my litter blog years ago, I've become more aware of the footprint I am leaving on my planet. I also have very poor soil in my yard because the developer removed all the top soil when the houses were built. I thought that I could improve my yard by composting my organic trash and applying it to the yard to enrich the soil.

I have harvested about two gallons of usable compost in three years. But it was quality stuff. I'm a regular composter now, although my compost pile freezes in the winter and rarely gets hot enough to cook in the summer.

The stuff in the photo is not compostable. The cardboard boxes could be added to a compost pile if the box was shredded. Again, someone dumped all this trash in my neighborhood. Again, our public works department, paid with our tax money, picked it up for me.

According to, Keep America Beautiful has calculated that litter costs the United States $11.5 billion dollars yearly. Remember that fact when you see a plastic bag gently surfing in the wind or come upon a pile of trash while you are hiking.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rain Garden Workshop

Periodically, I'll include local events to clean up or protect our environment:
Rain Garden Workshop - Feb 25, 9am-3pm   RainGarden  
Rain gardens add beauty to the landscape, help reduce flooding by allowing storm water to be absorbed by the plants and infiltrated into the ground, and help clean our streams and watersheds.  This workshop offers the following:

~ We will address problems associated with traditional storm water management practices and lack of maintenance of facilities and presenting ideas, information and practices designed to retrofit urban environments.  

~Learn basic ecological concepts and how to make practical and cost effective aesthetic and ecological improvements through hands-on training.

~ We will build an actual rain garden as a part of the workshop.

~ Several $250-$500 grants for riparian tree planting will be given to qualified participants on a first-come, first-served basis. 
The workshop will be led by Tennessee Environmental Council Executive Director, John McFadden (PhD).  The workshop is ideal for city stormwater managers and coordinators, local park and greenway managers, greenway design consultants, watershed associations, landscapers and others interested in learning about rain gardens.  Valued at about $75 we are offering this workshop with a donation to the Council of just $25!   Click here for more information and to register.  

Why Do People Litter?

I've been blogging for the last four years on another blogging platform about litter. Because I love Google, I decided recently to move the blog. The overturned, abandoned hot tub, which was left on the side of Newsom Station Road in the outskirts of Nashville, Tenn., started my blogging obsession about my trash obsession.

There is an orange fungus* that I have seen growing in my yard. When I first noticed this overturned hot tub, I thought that the fungus, laced on steroids from our water supply, had grown out of control on the side of the road. Or was it an alien ship abandoned by visitors from outer space? Should I admit that I was actually startled by the litter? I was.

How did this large lump of litter make it to the side of the road? Did it fly out of the back of a pick up truck as countless plastic bags do each day? Did someone flick it out a car window just like a cigarette butt?

I never learned (or cared) who tossed this in my neighborhood. I just called Metro Public Works, who picked it up for the slob who left it there. For me, this slob's trash changed my life.

*The fungus is known as the dog vomit slime mold.