It’s no secret that Lake Erie Shores & Islands is home to some of the most beautiful beaches, unique wildlife, and gorgeous waters in the Great Lakes region! But did you know Lake Erie contains approximately 381 metric tons of plastic, according to a 2020 estimate? This negatively affects not only those humans who enjoy taking a break on or by our beautiful lake, but can have detrimental effects on the natural habitat, ecosystem, and all the diverse wildlife that call it home.
So, what can we do to help? We talked with Joshua Dykstra of Eriesponsible, an organization created to spread awareness and spearhead efforts on keeping Lake Erie clean. Josh was able to share some tips for all of us to do our part and help to keep the beautiful shores and waters clean, safe, and healthy for humans and wildlife alike. Here are some of his best tips and tricks we can all implement into our time on the water:
Invest in a reusable water bottle! Many beach guests often bring along disposable plastic water bottles for convenience’s sake, and these bottles are often left behind on the sand, or end up being washed into basins or rivers, ultimately landing in the lake. Instead, Josh suggests buying a water filter from your local grocery store and using a reusable bottle.
Recycle your cigarette waste. Did you know that cigarette butts are made out of plastic and can last for up to 150 years? Instead of tossing your cigarette waste on the ground or putting it in an ash tray, Josh recommends putting your cigarette refuse in a collection pile or recycling it for free through an organization such as TerraCycle, which accepts extinguished cigarettes, cigarette filters, loose tobacco pouches, outer plastic packaging, inner foil packaging, rolling paper, and ash.
Replace your single use plastic bags with a reusable option. Instead of keeping your snacks in Ziploc bags or other single-use plastic receptacles, Josh offers reusable plastic containers or silicon bags as an alternative in order to reduce the amount of debris that lands in the ponds, basins, rivers, and lake.
Do your part! Even if you see trash on the beach or in the water that isn’t yours, pick it up! Josh says this level of initiative catches on and may inspire others to do the same.
Incorporating even just one of these simple steps into your next beach trip can greatly help keep Lake Erie and her beaches clean. Want to help on a larger scale? Check out Eriesponsible for updates on area beach clean-ups, tips and tricks to improve your environmental impact, donation opportunities, and more!