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Trashing America - Part 4
Actions You Can Take To Create Change

By Frosty Wooldridge


Part 4 of 4 - Endless single use plastic containers, habitat destruction, your choices, remediation and recycling

In 2011, hundreds of kids walked across America picking up litter.   Parents, Girl and Boy Scouts, Rotary, Lions and other civic groups joined in the quest.  You may visit their website at  They walked 3,300 miles, 320 days on the road and bagged 163,954 pounds of trash.   That’s on one single highway across America.  They started in Maryland and ended up in San Francisco.

Tragically, by the time they finished, one thousand times more trash had been thrown down on all highways across America than they picked up.

That’s 6,729 items of trash per mile of roadway

• Over 51 billion pieces of litter appear on U.S. roadways each year. Most of it, 46.6 billion pieces (91%), is less than four inches. That’s 6,729 items per mile of roadway. Doesn’t that figure make you sick?

• Tobacco • Tobacco products comprise roughly 38% of all U.S. roadway litter. Paper (22%) and plastic (19%) are the next largest types of materials.

• Packaging litter comprises nearly 46% of litter 4 inches and greater. This includes fast food, snack, tobacco, and other product packaging.

• Most roadway litter—76%---appears to originate from motorists and pedestrians. Individual actions by motorists (52%), pedestrians (22.8%), improperly covered trucks and cargo loads (16.4%), and other behaviors are the source of roadway litter.

• Most non-roadway litter is found at “transition points.” These are at or near entrances to movie theaters, retail, bus stops, and other places where anyone consuming a food or tobacco product is required to discard the item before entering.  (Source:

Costs of litter and trash--$11.5 billion annually

Litter clean up costs the U.S. more than $11.5 billion each year, with businesses paying $9.1 billion. Local and state governments, schools, and other organizations pick up the remaining costs.  Imagine what that money could do if it were funneled into education.

What do we do about plastic bags, bottles, cans and glass containers?

We need an outright ban on all plastic bags coming out of mercantile and grocery stores.  The damage to the landscape, rivers and oceans sickens even the most callous of minds and eyes.  Whole Foods banned them last year as well as Natural Grocers and other forward thinking stores.  Encourage Safeway’s, King Sooper’s, Kroger’s, Publix and all other stores to ban plastic bags. Ban plastic bags at all mall stores.  How do you encourage change in your community?

"Talk is cheap when it comes to many environmental issues, but I fully expect the Clean Seas Coalition to put some real teeth into legislation that will protect all Californians from ocean litter. Local governments and public interest groups are really coming together to push for action at the state level.  Now is the time to act." -Bill Magavern

Start up your own group in your own city, town or village:

State by state 10 or 25 cent deposit/return laws for all plastic, glass and metal containers.  Let’s face it, we cannot educate fast enough or instill personal accountability into the 20 percent of Americans who litter regularly.  They multiply their own habits into their children so fast that education cannot change their behavior.  Therefore, let’s use “human nature” by using financial incentives.   Refer to in order to start your own deposit/return laws in your own state.  Refer to Michigan’s excellent 10 cent deposit/return law:

We need to move toward quickly bio-degradable plastics and paper from fast food stores.  It’s sickening at how much patrons toss out their car windows everywhere across America.

After reading this series, doesn’t the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that kills 1 million birds annually and 100,000 dolphins, whales, sharks and other great marine life—just make you sick to your stomach?  How could we do such horrible damage to nature in the last 40 years and NO ONE lifted a hand to stop it? And still aren’t as of today.  No one will counter men like Peter Coors, his money and his disdain for Mother Nature and all her creatures.  No one will stand up to Dow Chemical and Kimberly Clark as they poison our water ways.   Why are we still using “Round Up” weed killer along with “Weed Be Gone” when those chemicals kill  not only weeds we are too lazy to bend down and pluck out of the ground, but poison our ground water and other creatures in the process?  Watch this seven video to make you absolutely ill with how humanity within 50 years has wrought inestimable damage to our oceans:

In the past 40 years, we have sponsored the War on Drugs, War on Poverty, War on Terror, War on Domestic Abuse and War on Homelessness.  We have failed miserably.  But our War on Nature succeeds 24/7 as we destroy the oceans, lakes, streams and rivers on which we all depend for living.  We trash the land at 6,729 pieces of refuse per mile. We toss our cars and motor homes onto the landscape without any sense of responsibility.  Worse, those of us who care do nothing to change the situation.  I call it malignant indifference.

In many ways, we disregard our spiritual connection to Mother Nature by our callous apathy of the land, water and air.  We feel safe and secure in our homes and cars, but we dismiss what we are doing to all the other living creatures God created on this planet.

Can this four part series make a difference?  Will you take action and become part of the solution?  Will you engage your children to participate?  Will you join or create groups to bring about a 10 cent or even 25 cent deposit/return law in your state?

My dad used to say, “Son, if you want something done right, you need to go out there and do it yourself.”    Your parents probably said the same thing to you.  Okay, get moving!


Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2012, he bicycled coast to coast across America.  His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click:



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