The Youth Advisory Board of the YVC of Alpena, Michigan, is bringing plastic to the forefront attention of our community. We have been heading a series of projects that bring a focus on a very real threat to our future: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a wide area about 1000 miles north of Hawaii and located in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre that teams with humanity’s garbage and debris. This plastic-populated area of the Pacific Ocean is twice the size of Texas and home to an estimated 3.5 million tons of trash. The plastic we use and discard daily ends up here through ocean currents, where it accumulates- and has accumulated so much that within the last 40 years, it has increased to 100 times its original size. It poses a serious threat to the ecosystem, to us, and, eventually, to our future. Many organisms mistake plastics for food, which leads to the plastic, and toxins that come with, working its way up the food chain and into our own diets- that is, if the plastic doesn’t kill the organisms first. Debris leads to the deaths of about 100,000 marine mammals and millions of birds and fish annually.
This information and more is what we’ve been teaching our community and our volunteers through various projects centered around plastic recycling. YVC of Alpena has partnered with NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for various projects, bringing in speakers to our youth volunteers to lead and educate. Once the weather warms up, we plan on aiding NOAA with summer cleanups along various roads, beaches, and lakes.
One of the cool projects we’ve tackled is making a recycle cap art mural. This project involved collecting bottle caps and other plastic caps and creating a collage of color in an artful design. This project took a week of construction for our volunteers. Caps used for the project were also collected by volunteers for a month before construction started. The number of plastic caps on the project is estimated to be over 3,000. Our YAB developed a presentation to go along with the mural, and we showcased it at NOAA, local museums, and other locations to help bring plastic to people’s minds. During our presentation, we taught about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, something we discovered many of our residents were not aware of.
YVC of Alpena will continue to do projects focused on this issue and other recycling topics. We hope to develop new ideas and community support for recycling efforts. With YVC, we are giving youth a voice and helping to change the world!
This blog post was contributed by Brook Mainville, Program Director of YVC of Alpena.