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Adele Elliott: Message in a bottle

 

Adele Elliott

 

Most of us only get one human mother. We also call the Earth "our mother." That is a good analogy. These days, our planet, our symbolic mother, is in jeopardy. Few people can argue with that. 

 

From our perspective it seems that the entire state of California is engulfed in flames. Some 27,000 fires have destroyed nearly two million acres of the western U.S. since the start of 2012. They give the impression of being endless. 

 

As I write this, massive thunderstorms are headed from the Gulf of Mexico to points east, according to weather.com, with the possibility of up to three inches of rain creating flash flooding. (The threat may be long over by the time you read this.)  

 

Mississippi has had her share of severe climate conditions, tornadoes, and all sorts of extremes in temperatures. Certainly, we are helpless against the whims and ravages of nature. However, some problems are totally the fault of humans and their disregard for consequences. Apparently, our mother is angry with us. Perhaps she has good reason. 

 

Many people are alarmed by the ever-increasing glut of plastic bottles. They are polluting our oceans and proliferating in landfills, causing damage to creatures living on Earth. The Container Recycling Institute tells us that Americans waste as many as 425 million plastic bottles and other beverage containers each year. 

 

According to banthebottle.com, "Plastic takes literally hundreds of years to decompose -- poisoning the environment and the wildlife living in it in the meantime." 

 

The article goes on to say that pollution is also caused by the manufacture of plastic bottles. Because crude oil is used in the process, an entire quarter of the bottle's volume capacity is made of oil. 

 

Many cities and states are beginning to discourage the use of plastic bottles. Some states have high deposit fees. Residents then receive the deposit back when items are returned to a recycling center. 

 

North Carolina has a law against throwing plastic bottles in with your trash, and that bars them from landfills. Washington University, located in St. Louis, has prohibited the use of plastic bottles on campus. 

 

The states with current bottle bills in place include; California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Vermont. Mississippi has not yet jumped on this bandwagon; however, the Mississippi Recycling Coalition is a good place to look for other Earth-friendly ideas. 

 

Some very creative solutions to the bottle problem are beginning to arise. A company named Inhabitat Design has produced an edible water container. Voila -- no trash! Check out inhabitat.com for furniture made with recycled materials, tips on growing a lemon tree from a seed, and other green resolutions to our pollution problems. 

 

In Beijing, empty plastic bottles can be inserted into a vending machine to purchase subway tokens. The bottles will not pay for the whole ticket, but will give credits which go toward a discount. The machine crushes them to a third of their original size and sorts them according to color and type (theguardian.com). 

 

There are recycling bins just a block from my house. I wonder how many people use them? It seems like a small thing to ask. After all, it may be a bit difficult for us to move to another planet when we completely trash this one. 

 

Honor your Mother Earth: think about recycling, reusing and keeping her healthy.

 

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.

 

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