It’s a Saturday morning in mid-April and I’m walking down Gandy Beach with a friend. What I see is dismaying. Scattered all about the beach is garbage… piles of it. It’s downright appalling what people just toss aside while they’re “enjoying a beach day.” There are cigarette butts, beer cans, boxes of crackers, sheets, towels, baby floats, plastic bottles galore. It’s disgusting. Obviously, something needs to change in the lives and thought processes of the people who are so ignorant as to leave their waste behind in this way, but what I want to discuss is the effect it has on our environment.
St. Petersburg is a peninsula, so we are surrounded by water. We have a huge amount of coastline, a delicate ecosystem whose health and balance hang on our every action. Infrastructure is complicated at best.
The size of the population that resides on the peninsula is large enough that the balance can be disrupted by even one small error. Tidal waters are deeply affected by every action we take, even seemingly harmless ones like fertilizing our lawns. The rainwater runoff carries fertilizer, pesticides, and anything left on the side of the street directly into Tampa Bay, without treatment or filtering. Leave a plastic bottle on the side of the street and the next thing you know it’s floating around in the coastal waters.
These are just a few of the local considerations about our environment that we need to consider on a daily basis as we go about our lives. How can we make adjustments to our habits in order to be more Earth conscious? I, for one, have dedicated my art practice to sustainability. Each step I take considers its impact on our planet. I use water from heating up my shower to make my own paper, and I also use that water for my garden and indoor plants. I throw as little in my garbage can as possible, always stopping myself just before I put something in the can, to ask, “is there a better place or use for this?” Often, the question is yes. After a while, you don’t even have to ask, you just know the best place for something…. That isn’t the trash can.
I encourage you to do the same. Start small, and in no time, you won’t be taking your garbage can to the curb more than once every two weeks. Happy Earth Day!