How littering is affecting Albany’s lakes and rivers

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Published: May. 5, 2022 at 7:55 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) -Some people might see littering as a problem that only affects lane areas, but what about things like lakes, rivers, and oceans?

Albany’s littering problem goes far beyond roads, alleys, and unkept property.

Albany has a bit of a littering problem, and Gordon Rodgers, River Keeper & Executive Director for Flint Riverkeeper,...

Posted by Gabrielle Taite WALB on Thursday, May 5, 2022

Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers says it causes huge negative impacts on the water as well.

“That’s true even if it looks like it’s just sitting there,” Rogers said. “So like a plastic bag hung in some bushes and it digs there for months or years, it eventually slowly gets into the water system as it degrades.”

He adds that this causes an element to arise which is not very well known.

Gordon Rodgers is the River Keeper & Executive Director for Flint Riverkeeper.
Gordon Rodgers is the River Keeper & Executive Director for Flint Riverkeeper.(WALB)

“One of the things that we’re running into is not only the unsightliness or the oxygen depletion that occurs when some of the litter with the larger pieces of litter that we see,” Rogers said. “But also microplastics is becoming a well-known problem in fresh water and saltwater systems. And it’s all coming from us.”

He adds that microplastics are affecting all of us and not just sea creatures.

More trash on the ground.
More trash on the ground.(WALB)

“It’s showing up in animal flesh, animal blood, and then our own flesh and blood from the animals that we’re eating and these microplastics at this point have unknown effects. But it’s showing up everywhere and it’s very clear that it’s associated with creeks and rivers in terms of how it gets in the ocean,” he said.

Microplastics are broken down into tiny pieces which usually aren’t visible. They sometimes get incorporated into our food when we eat sea animals. And that’s just one-way littering causes harm.

Trash on the ground.
Trash on the ground.(WALB)

“There’s sort of three levels of harm,” he said. “One is there’s that visual level where you know we’re offended by the sight of trash. Another is that trash such as cardboard, paper cut-ups, and anything that degrades quickly. That can consume oxygen on an unnatural level. And then when it breaks down further, we’re beginning to see it show up in the food web. It’s an issue in many, many levels. If people just wouldn’t litter it would save both money and health.”

Rodgers adds that littering anywhere is bad since everything is connected and it will always affect some areas of the environment negatively.

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