I have a fascination for birds and their nests. I envy birds for their ability to fly. You never see them worried about their next meal. The way they feed their young is so intimate. I stand in awe how nests are woven together, so delicate but yet strong enough to handle the winds. Their lives are so simple. Whenever I see a tree I am searching for a nest. I found one outside of my lovely neighbors porch, her trash was my treasure.
After examining this nest I found the usual sticks and dirt. However, I was pretty shocked to find part of a plastic bag, shoelaces, dental floss, other sorts of plastic, and some sort of cotton. This has been on my mind for weeks. How sad that the birds don’t realize they are putting basically toxic materials into their homes, in which they will raise their babies. Their homes are being polluted with our waste.
After walking the city, I started to notice how litter is carelessly thrown. So I started to pick it up. At first I think, “This is not my responsibility and its dirty!” But then I started to remember the nest. Sitting next to the Boulder Creek is lovely, but not when I see bottled water, soda cans, plastic bags and other things…. I feel an obligation to seeing our land clean and litter free, maybe it’s because of all those years of not caring and throwing trash out the window. One day, I only focused on cigarette buts. Why do people who are in walking distance to a trash can just throw it on the ground? Billions of cigarettes are littered every day. I am sure the same is nearly true with bottled waters (just basic math of knowing that Americans purchase $11 billion water bottles each year)
About a week went by and my neighbor told me there was another nest waiting for me on her front step. I couldn’t be more excited. I was watching the trees blow in the wind, and from a distance I saw a black object in a nest. It was a black plastic bag. This was my sign that today was the day for my project.
For those of you that don’t think it all really matters, or how litter can possibly affect our earth listen to this. According to Wikipedia with a simple search of “litter”: “Cleaning up litter in the U.S. costs hundreds of dollars per ton, about ten times more than the cost of trash disposal, for a cost totaling about $11 billion per year.
What else could we be spending money on, maybe ending hunger? Or how about education? But instead its on trash, whether intentional or unintentional, its a waste. Oh and cigarette buts, those are biodegradable most would say. Do a simple search on the internet and you will find this to be false. What you will find is that cigarettes are the most littered item. The white part in them is not cotton, but made of cellulose acetate , which can take decades to degrade. And what about the plastic bags (remember the one hanging from the nest)? Did you know the obscene amount of oil it takes to produce them is 12 million barrels. Not only a money factor, plastic bags are very toxic and some states have even banned them.
- Paper and paperboard: 6 months,
- Cigarette butts: 2–5 years,
- Plastic (PET) Soda Bottles: 5–10 years,
- Plastic shopping bags: 10–30 years,
- Gum: 20–25 years,
- Polystyrene chip wrapping: 90 years,
- Tin Can: 80–100 years,
- Aluminum Can: 200–400 years,
- Six pack bottle wrapping: 450 years,
- Golf ball: 100–1000 years.
How is this impacting our soil and our animals? I wonder how the air is affected? What are the long term consequences that we can’t see or understand?
As I delicately wove the waste into the nests, about 70 birds were in the trees around me. I have never been so aware of the relationship between myself and my actions and God’s creation. Every bottled item tossed flows into some river, every cigarette but flicked to the ground gets carried away, every barrel of oil wasted on a completely useless item…..
“Birds Nest of the Future”….
I incorporated weeds into the nest- I thought of how a gardener goes to extreme measures to get rid of weeds. If you are not proactive in the destruction of a weed, it will ruin your garden- it will not have a chance. Give our creation a chance, do your part, be conscious of your actions, respect our home.
- Plastic Bags: A Blowing Problem (thinkoutsidethebin.com)
- Weekly Post 5/6 (cnprojectgreen.wordpress.com)
- Students pull 600 cigarette butts, 179 plastic bags from Kits Beach in shoreline cleanup (theprovince.com)