Franklin students impact ‘Ocean Soup’

Published 9:36 pm Friday, July 11, 2014

From left, Sarah Conner, Vanessa Stone, Angela Bird, Cat's Meow owner Debbie Crowder and Summer Winston. The students were talking to downtown business owners about recycling downtown. Photo by Patti Rabil.

From left, Sarah Conner, Vanessa Stone, Angela Bird, Cat’s Meow owner Debbie Crowder and Summer Winston. The students were talking to downtown business owners about recycling downtown. Photo by Patti Rabil.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Angela Bird, Sarah Conner, Cindy Mitrovic, Nyjey Pope, Vanessa Stone and Summer Winston, members of P3 – The Project…Pollution Prevention

FRANKLIN—Did you know 80 percent of trash that ends up in the ocean comes from land?

Believe it or not, 30 percent comes from the United States alone. This waste, such as plastic bags, cola cans, water bottles, cardboard boxes, containers, etc, are not always properly disposed of in landfills. In fact, most of them end up in the ocean through the process of land runoff. This has a devastating effect on marine life and humans.

Mounds of garbage collects together to form “Islands of Trash.” This colossal gathering of waste in our oceans is referred to as “Ocean Soup.” The United States recycles up to 220 million tons of waste each year, but that is not even close to how much ends up being dumped in our oceans. 14 billion ends up in the oceans!

With the population growth and the yearly dumping, imagine the growth of these garbage patches in just one year. The first garbage patch was discovered in 1997 and has now amassed to over 2.24 trillion tons of trash in all of our oceans. This is a global issue since our oceans have no boundaries. As the trash breaks down into smaller and smaller particles, it moves into the food chain. Small fish consume the particles, which are then eaten by bigger fish, until the fish are caught and brought to market. Who is the final consumer…go look in the mirror! It is a proven fact that WE are eating plastic in our food!

However, a group of driven Franklin students decided to start a Community Problem Solving (CmPS) project to tackle this issue. “P3”, The Project… Pollution Prevention, surveyed the Franklin community and found that most of the debris/litter could be recycled. If more recycling occurred there would be less litter going into the waterways. During the past year, the Pollution Preventers have been involved in many projects. P3 is currently surveying all the Downtown Businesses to determine what would be the most convenient and economically feasible method of recycling. They have met several times with city supervisors and companies that would be interested in receiving the recycling contract for the business district. Each company has different ideas for recycling collection centers. Each business will be given their own recycling bin to collect materials within their business and then large containers would be placed outside for several businesses to share. Through the survey, the amount of collection times will be determined.

Most businesses responded with an overwhelming, “YES!” depending on the cost. Gayle Schmidt, from Franklin Art and Framework responded with, “Love it! Not if but when?” Juanita Richards wanted to know if it could be started immediately. AGLA Career Opportunity owner thought it would benefit downtown plus the right thing to do for the environment. The negative comments centered around cost. The group has been able to purchase the individual bins through funding from the state litter grant offered through the city. Once in place the group will present their project to all business owners at a Downtown Franklin Association (DFA) meeting in August.

During the next year P3 will expand their recycling effort throughout the community. Schools have recycled paper since 1995 but will now be able to recycle all types of materials. The Pollution Preventers after visiting Butler Paper Recycling found that school milk cartons are recyclable. That means over 14,500 empty cartons of milk from the three schools can be recycled and not trashed.

A huge portion of their project will be educating the public. P3 will be going to each residence and applying new recycling stickers to recycling bins, informing citizens of the possibility of lowering their utility bills through recycling. The more recycling and less trash collected equals lower bills. The city pays for each load of trash dumped in the land fill. Less loads equal savings for Franklin residents. In addition to residential areas, P3 hopes to convince apartment complex managers to add recycling dumpsters since they have no way to recycle at this time.

The Pollution Preventers are setting up a website, Twitter account and a Facebook page to find ways to reach people of all ages not only in Franklin, but throughout the world. School and civic presentations, and radio and TV spots will also be on their agenda.

These Community Problem Solvers are determined to make a difference! The time to act is now… not tomorrow, NOW. If we continue and let each day pass without any action, the trash will continue to amass, until the oceans become a sewer! This garbage is poisoning our oceans, communities, homes, families, and our future generations. If we keep pretending that nothing is wrong, we will no longer have the privilege to enjoy clean water. Who will we blame? It is us, we are the cause!

Be on the lookout for more information about what you can do to help this recycling effort! If you have any questions about recycling, you can contact P3 through their email account