#MadeItBetter: Because Plastic Doesn’t Belong Anywhere But a Bin

It’s not made-up media garbage. There’s a real problem taking over our streets and waterways, our forests and oceans. Plastic.

I found heaven years ago in the West Coast shores of Ireland. This last visit, however, I was genuinely bothered by the clear transformation taking place on the rocks and beaches. Plastics were starting to compete for numbers with the grains of sand, washing up and littering the beach with every tide.

This problem isn’t just one of making the once beautiful scenes unattractive. It goes far deeper than that. Plastics are disintegrating the in the oceans, their chemical components starting to be detected in our fish — even our sea salt and table salt. Plastic debris is often found in the stomach of fish, sea life and birds — killing them off in great numbers. And we have to do something about it.

My husband and I spent two separate days of our vacation cleaning up the beaches of Ireland. At my favorite, that of Kilkee, Ireland, we were even approached by a curious man who’d been swimming in the bay. “What is it you’re doing here?” When we explained, he was stunned. “So you’re not even from here, but you’re cleaning up our beaches. Well, bless you. I will say me prayers for you. Bless you. This bothers me so, but me wife says there’s nothing to do. I’m gonna’ clean up next time I’m here, too.”

I believe people care about this issue — they just don’t know what to do, and don’t believe they can make a difference. And maybe my little-bit-at-a-time efforts won’t make too much of a dent: I now clean up our local river, every time I walk the dog, etc. But think of how much harmful trash we could all get off the streets if we all started making it better?

So, consider taking a bag and some gloves along on your next bike ride, hike, walk, etc. Post the impact you were able to make to #MadeItBetter on Instagram or Twitter. Get the word out, talk to others about what you’re doing. Let’s start a clean-up army.

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