Trash Talk at Boardman Wetland

All the litter we found in a short stretch of Boardman Creek

Two classes of students from Rex Putnam joined us at Boardman Creek this week.  First students got a lesson from Gina and Charlie(SOLVE) on litter in our environment and how it can travel to the Pacific Ocean.  Litter that is dropped nearby or blown out of overflowing trash cans washes into Boardman Creek during rain events and can be a real problem for wildlife that call the creek home.


As we all know, every discarded item, no matter the size, must end up somewhere. Often litter ends up in waterways. With assistance from ditches, sewer systems, rivers and other bodies of water, litter can easily traverse across thousands of miles to wash up on your local beach.

Here are the top five litter items found and how they harm wildlife:

#5 Plastic beverage bottles (8.6 percent)
Plastic is lightweight and durable, making it an ideal choice for manufacturing. Put it in water and decomposition time slows down, meaning plastic will be around for a long time — about 450  years — potentially harming marine wildlife. BPA, a chemical compound in plastic bottles that’s linked to health problems in humans, can cause reproductive disorders in shellfish and other species.

#4 Caps and lids (8.9 percent)
Caps and lids are not too large for a number of wildlife species to eat. Birds, like albatross in Hawaii, mistake them for eggs or squid and take them back to the nest.

#3 Food wrappers/containers (9.2 percent)
Both paper and plastic are used in food packaging. They can be mistaken for food and any traces of food on the packaging will attract hungry animals. Choking or blockages can lead to death.

#2 Plastic Bags (11 percent)
Plastic bags may not seem appetizing, but a sea turtle can mistake them for jellyfish. Blockages can occur, causing the turtle to starve to death if they don’t choke first. Other possibilities include animals becoming trapped inside a bag and suffocating or drowning to death.

#1 Cigarettes/cigarette filters (21 percent)
As with land litter, cigarettes/cigarette filters are the most prevalent litter type in water. Not only does wildlife mistakenly eat discarded cigarette parts, they may also be fed to offspring. No nutritional value is obtained from cigarettes, yet wildlife feel full after ingestion. Cigarettes are also highly toxic — as Chris Santiago wrote on the Environment blog, the chemicals in one filtered cigarette butt can kill half the fish living in a one liter container of water.

Students found many of the above trash items and in addition pulled out three tires, many parts to a car engine, a cd player and signs.  Students won’t stop there!  Instead of putting all this trash into a landfill, students are going to clean it up a bit and create educational art pieces out of all they found.  In addition, students helped finish up mulching our newly planted natives to protect them from the hot summer months!

Thank you Rex Putnam!

Thank you Oak Lodge Sanitary District for funding this project!

1 thought on “Trash Talk at Boardman Wetland

  1. Pingback: For Earth Day, Think of the Ocean | Sheila Hurst

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