April 22nd is Earth Day! This year, we are rallying behind the theme, “Invest In Our Planet” which highlights the importance of dedicating our time, resources, and energy to solving climate change and other environmental issues. Our Trash Free Hawaii campaign focuses on reduction of waste because it has the potential to end up in our storm drains and waterways, but solid waste also contributes directly to greenhouse gas emissions. Solid waste combustion facilities and the anaerobic decay of waste in landfills produce methane and nitrous oxide, two gases that are extremely harmful to the planet.
According to the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, approximately 15 to 20 tons of trash wash up on the shores of our islands every year. While this waste may not affect climate change immediately, it greatly impacts our wildlife. Animals, like Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles, can get hurt if waste gets wrapped around their necks. Many pieces of trash are also often mistaken for food. This waste fills an animal’s stomach and prevents them from eating, ultimately resulting in the animal dying from starvation.
There are countless ways that trash impacts the environment and it’s up to us to become better stewards of the land. Here are some ways you can invest in our planet this year:
- Participate in cleanups (Adopt-A-Highway).
- Reduce the amount of trash you produce.
- Make small changes to become more eco-friendly in your day-to-day life, such as securing your load when hauling materials. Learn more about the Baby Steps you can take.
- Learn more about climate change and other environmental issues.
The possibilities are endless and everything counts! Together, we can make sure the Earth we know and love will be here for many generations to come.