By: Meaghan Gass, Huron Pines AmeriCorps NE MI GLSI and Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant
The Guide - April/May 2015
Since 1970, Earth Day reflects an annual, worldwide tradition in paying appreciation for our living planet and the habitats – food, water, shelter – she affords us. Northeastern Michigan communities – rich in Great Lakes and natural resources – may understand more than anyone the importance of caring for clean air, fresh water, our living woodlands, and waterway ecosystems. You can celebrate Earth Day this year with some area student artists.
In the weeks preceding Earth Day, area youth in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade classrooms around Alpena will participate in the Northeast Michigan Earth Day Bag Project in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of plastic bags. In partnership with the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, its community partners, and Neiman’s Family Market, students will decorate bags to convey messages regarding conservation and preservation following a discussion about the dangers of using plastic bags. These bags will then be distributed to customers at Neiman’s Family Market in Alpena, MI on Earth Day, April 22nd.
The students’ campaign aims to lower the use of plastic bags, which have harmful environmental consequences, and to advocate the use of paper or reusable bag alternatives. Single-use plastics, like plastic bags, can become harmful when entering into water ecosystems as litter or marine debris. This plastic pollution can weather and break down into smaller and smaller plastic fragments known as micro-plastics. These small pieces of plastic absorb pollutants and confused as food, they can also be consumed by fish and birds resulting in harm. Attention toward the issue of marine debris and micro-plastics stems from the campaigns to raise awareness toward the infamous floating Pacific Ocean garbage patches. Yet closer to home, marine debris and micro-plastics are an increasingly challenging pollution issue here in our Great Lakes...