We are at the top of the food chain. Wildlife helps support life in general and having adequate wetlands help prevent flooding and helps detoxify some types of chemicals. It can take ten to twenty years for plants to help remove cadmium and zinc from contaminated soil. Lead is more challenging according to research performed in Denmark.
Other research on the use of plants to help clean contaminated sites has found sunflowers and Indian mustard to be effective at removing lead and radiation from contaminated soil.
Some research in wetlands has found that the common and easy to grow plant known as Cattail is effective for removing cadmium:
Environmental cleanup is possible, however it takes time, a lot of physical labor, and some resources in the form of plants and compost or fertilizer to help improve poor soil conditions. Water may need to be added from an external source to initially flood the region until rain and ground water cycles are restored.
Humans can help the environment if we put in the time, money and sweat equity - the work.
Cattail stalks & arrowhead plants, with lilypads & flowers floating on a wetland pond.
A cleaner environment would support healthier and more diverse wildlife which has been shown to harbor less harmful infectious disease carrying microbes as well as providing cleaner water and soil for future generations.
There is also a significant need for more jobs for workers. Simple environmental clean up solutions would require investment but compared to many large budget projects the investment wouldn't need to be much greater than paying the workers to prepare sites by removing invasive plants and preparing the soil and establishing new more productive, beneficial plants in the area.
Investing small amounts of money now could support more workers now and help protect our ecosystem and wildlife for future generations to enjoy as well as protecting the air, water, and soil for the present and future.
Plastics and microplastic particles are becoming so prevalent in the ocean and other water supplies that it is found in our bodies and in species that we grow or harvest for food. Stopping plastic at the source - our hands is an easy first step.
Litter pick up days can be a community event that can be a fun way to clean up a larger area where plastic and other waste has collected over time. As a child my family went on many community litter pick ups to help clean up the roadsides of litter that was frequently thrown out of cars at the time. Laws were written so that police could write tickets for people who were caught littering from moving automobiles and slowly our collective habits have changed. More public trash cans and recycling bins are available at roadside rest areas and that also has helped to change habits. Litter is still thrown out of moving cars but there does seem to be less roadside litter in many areas than there was in the early 1970s.
Animals such as wetland birds and marine species often eat colorful bits of plastic because it might look like food. The plastic is indigestible and collects in their digestive tract to a point where the animal is no longer able to eat and digest their normal foods.
Stopping plastic waste at the opening of a river into a lake or ocean coastline has been effective in many areas to help capture floating plastic before it reaches the ocean.
Tiny ocean creatures have been found to be chewing plastic into tiny microscopic pieces which then become prevalent in any aquatic species that filters water for their food such as mussels, a shellfish, or Baleen whales.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle was a motto that helped clean up the air and water in the United States during the 1970's. We know that teamwork and public policy changes can work wonders because it has worked wonders in the past.
We can't change group decisions or legal policies on our own but we can each choose to be a Planet Superhero and pick up litter and put it in a trash can or recycling bin, depending on the type of litter. And we can also each choose to not buy products that have excessive packaging - pack a lunch and use a stainless steel refillable water bottle and save the planet and your pocketbook from excessive cost.
We all can be our own superhero and a superhero for the planet. Our own health and the health of the planet starts with the daily choices that we make individually and as groups.
Wildlife, such as swans, ducks, and cranes, enjoy wetland preserves.
Jennifer Depew, R.D.
Copyright © 2020 Jennifer Depew, R - All Rights Reserved.
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