I happened to be home this morning to catch Oprah's Earth Day special. I'll admit I tuned in more for the environmental aspect than the "O factor", as I'm still a little bitter about the tapings I was subjected to a few years back... which is a whole other story... but I actually learned something! So, I never thought I'd say this, but thanks, Oprah! I was devastated by the opening segment with Jacques Cousteau's grandson, Fabien, about the largest garbage dump in the world, the swirling patch of trash in the Pacific Ocean. Estimated to be twice the size of Texas, and up to 90-feet deep in places, marine animals big and small are ingesting, getting entangled in, and dying from OUR TRASH. They showed picture after heartbreaking picture of a turtle whose shell had grown grotesquely around a plastic ring it must have gotten stuck in as a baby, a bird who was trapped and dying under layers of plastic, and an entire cigarette lighter in the belly of a dead albatross.
I know we're a long way from the Pacific Ocean, but there's a mass of trash in all of the world's oceans, and whether we realize it or not, we're contributing to the growing problem. Trash dumped in area lakes and rivers is washed downstream to bigger rivers, and is eventually carried out to sea. So this Earth Day, consider joining forces with other city dwellers and spend an afternoon this spring cleaning up a vacant lot or fishing trash out of the Chicago River. The city's "Clean and Green" initiative has several events coming up in May, and the Park District and Forest Preserves offer similar volunteering opportunities. Just think, a plastic bag that is plucked from a river in Chicago could potentially save a fish that would have otherwise been suffocated by unwittingly swimming into it! Just go to the City of Chicago web site or be on the lookout for volunteer opportunities in your area. We can all help to make this Earth Day a happy one!