Litter hurts everyone, says Rita Williams, a First Citizens Bank employee and N.C. Big Sweep chairman.
“It affects our economy, our health and our wildlife,” she said.
Shawn Carroll is an environmental-protection manager for Waste Management and an N.C. Big Sweep Board member.
“My two kids are never happier than when they are on or in the ocean and waters of Coastal North Carolina,” Carroll said. “Whether we are fishing, sailing, water skiing or enjoying a day at the beach, litter prevention is already ingrained in their outdoor ethic. Big Sweep is a great mechanism to protect the beautiful waters of our sate, and our entire family will be participating this year.”
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Litter can last hundreds of years in the environment. Until it decomposes, litter attracts disease-carrying mosquitoes and rodents. It’s deadly to wildlife that eat or become entangled in litter, and once entangled, wildlife often attract other wildlife to the same hazard.
Every year, Big Sweep volunteers find entangled animals, and last year was no exception. None of the 17 entangled animals found during the 2013 Big Sweep were able to be released alive.
When litter finally starts decomposing, it leaches chemicals into the groundwater.
But don’t despair. By pulling together and taking in Big Sweep cleanups, we can turn that around, Williams said.
In North Carolina, the statewide date for the cleanups this year is Saturday, Oct. 4. To get involved, volunteers can visit www.ncbigsweep.org. Or to volunteer in Johnston County, call Susan Woodard of the Johnston Soil and Water Conservation District at 919-934-7156, Ext. 3, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers choose their cleanup site; Big Sweep provides trash bags and data cards.
“This year, the Johnston Soil and Water Conservation District will be providing free T-shirts to zone captains who lead a cleanup at their respective site,” Woodard said. “This gesture is to help support Big Sweep, show appreciation to our volunteers and recognize Anna Wagner, a student at Corinth Holders High School, who designed the 2014 Big Sweep logo that is printed on this year’s publications and T-shirts.”