Five Things Found in River Cleanups
Cleanups are probably the most common activities in rehabilitating rivers, mostly because it’s something the average person can easily get involved in. Some are spearheaded by larger organizations, while others are done by small groups who just want to help out. Either way, river cleanups contribute greatly to removing trash from our bodies of water.
Considering the number of cleanups done in a year, though, we’re curious—what are the most common pieces of trash that are usually found in rivers? The American Rivers organization came up with a list earlier this year.
Although they are relatively tiny, cigarette butts are a huge percentage of waste found in rivers—in the United States, it accounts for 30% of all litter.
Plastic Bottles and Bottle Caps
According to the data on the American Rivers story, more than 22 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away yearly—and many of them end up in our bodies of water. What’s worse is that plastic bottles and bottle caps photodegrade, meaning they eventually break down into small parts and release chemicals as they disintegrate.
The largest category on the list, this includes household packaging and fast food containers. Whether recyclable or not, many of the snack packaging, styrofoam and paperboard wrappings, drink cups and the like end up in the waterways.
In the United States, over 100 billion bags are used every year—and as a result, is the subject of many environmentalists’ advocacies. Plastic bags are just like the water bottles, which degrade into small pieces that can leach chemicals into the environment. Furthermore, while it’s not broken down, it can inhibit natural water flows and drainage, which lead to flooding.
The American Rivers statistics show that 50% of roadside litter is made up of beverage containers, and these eventually end up in waterways.