May 4, 2011
- Litter and Wildlife
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
Litter and Wildlife
Have you ever seen garbage or litter tossed in your neighborhood or on the side of the road? That litter is more than just ugly, it can harm wildlife in your area and far away. Fish, animals and birds can get trapped in the loops of discarded plastic six-pack holders. Broken glass can not only hurt you, but can injure animals as well. Small animals can get stuck inside jars or cans, and many types of wildlife eat bottle caps, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers. When they become trapped or tangled, they can't eat, and they can't escape from predators.
A lot of litter and garbage can be reused or recycled. Many communities have recycling and composting programs-check with your town to see what types of items you can recycle or compost in your community. As you get better about recycling and composting, you may find that you have more items for recycling than you throw in the garbage! That means fewer items ending up in the landfill, or in our waterways and parks-and less chance that wildlife will mistake garbage for food.
Of course, it is better to reduce our overall consumption and limit the solid waste we send to the landfill. How long does waste remain in the landfill before fully decomposing? Here are some examples:
-Piece of paper - 2 to 4 weeks
-Orange or banana peel - 3 to 5 weeks
-Cigarette butts - 2 to 5 years
-Plastic bags - 10 to 20 years
-Disposable diapers - 10 to 20 years
-Aluminum can - 250 to 350 years
-Plastic six-pack holders - 450 years
-Styrofoam and glass - FOREVER
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Learn the best places to view wildlife at DEC's Watchable Wildlife pages.
We often pass right by litter or trash without even noticing it. Go on a un-nature hike to tune yourself in to what doesn't belong in the woods. Have an adult or friend hide 10 man-made objects along a short trail in the woods or other natural area. Some ideas include putting a candy wrapper slightly under a rock, a pen in a tree or a banana peel under a bush. Walk along the trail with your friends (not the person who hid the items) trying to find what doesn't belong in nature and bring it back with you. Use the list above to figure out how long each item would have stayed on the trail if no one picked it up. Could an animal have mistaken the item for food? Make sure you pick up all the items and dispose of them properly.
Take a real nature hike too! Read the April issue of the Conservationist to find out about watchable wildlife opportunities near you.
Plastic Island in the Pacific
Believe it or not, there is an "island" of discarded plastic and other garbage floating around in the Pacific Ocean. Some estimates are that it is twice as big as the Continental United States, stretching from 500 miles off the coast of California almost to Japan. One hundred million tons of plastic, including shopping bags (which can now be recycled in New York State), footballs, shoes, Lego blocks, even kayaks are part of the "plastic island" which floats like a thick soup just below the surface of the water. More than one million seabirds die each year when they mistake the garbage for food. One scientist sailed thousands of miles from land and was surrounded by an endless stream of garbage for more than a week. Check it out for yourself by having an adult help you search the internet for "plastic island in the Pacific."
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center (currently closed due to fiscal constraints, but the Stony Kill Foundation is sponsoring events).
Earth Day Celebration and Plant Sale
Saturday, May 7 from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Wilderness Survival Day
Sunday, May 15 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Citizen Science: The Early Birder
Thursdays, May 5 and 12 at 7:00 AM
Binoculars and bird guides helpful but not necessary.
Family Fun: Snipe Hunt
Thursday, May 5 at 7:30 PM
Bring your own "snipe trap," and dress for outdoor fun.
How to Do It: Gardening for Wildlife
Saturday, May 7 at 2:00 PM
Space is limited. Call 518-475-0291 by Friday, April 29 to register.
How to Do It: Bluffer's Guide to Birding
Saturday, May 14 at 9:00 AM
Binoculars and bird guides are helpful but not necessary.
Sunday, May 15 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Meet at the Karner Barrens East (trailhead #1). Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Central New York
Rogers Environmental Education Center (currently closed due to fiscal constraints, but the Friends of Rogers is sponsoring several programs)
Earth Fest Saturday, May 7 from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Western New York
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Thursday, May 5 and 12 at 4:30 PM
For children in grades K-5. No registration required.
Frogs in Harmony
Thursday, May 5 at 7:30 PM
Lewis and Clark Exploration
Saturday, May 7 at 10:00 AM
Earth Day in May
Saturday, May 14 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Early Bird Walk
Sunday, May 15 at 9:00 AM
For adults and children 8 years and older.
Full Flower Moon Walk
Tuesday, May 17 at 8:30 PM