UNION — Any way you look at it, a million years is a really long time, but it’s especially long if you’re waiting for that glass bottle you tossed out on the side of the road to decompose.
Yes that’s right, a glass bottle like the one PalmettoPride Education Coordinator Sandra Bryan showed to a group of second grade students from Foster Park Elementary School takes a million years to decompose.
Bryan showed the students the bottle and told them about how long it takes it and other forms of litter to decompose during a presentation at the Piedmont Physic Garden Thursday morning. The approximately 60 students were there to learn about litter and its impact on the environment and the community as part of FPES’ observance of Earth Day.
While they don’t take as long to decompose as a glass bottle does, many items that often end up as litter take a long time — in some cases a very long time — to decompose. Those items and the length of time they take to decompose — depending upon weather and site conditions — are:
• Aluminum Can — 200 years
• Banana/Orange Peel — 2-5 weeks
• Carry-Out Food Bag — 4-8 months
• Cotton Rag — 1-5 months
• Cigarette Butt (#1 form of litter) — 1-5 years
• Newspaper — 3-6 months
• Plastic Bag — 10-20 years
• Plastic Bottle — 450 years
• Plastic Six-Pack Cover — 450 years
• Tin Can — 50 years
Bryan also discussed with students the impact litter can have, pointing out that it can pollute the environment, including fouling water sources like rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds that plants, animals, and humans depend on. She said it can also make a community look dirty, unsanitary, and unsafe, pointing out that there have been instances where communities have lost economic development opportunities because the businesses and industries considering them were turned off by the litter they saw. In addition, Bryan said that litter can be a hazard, pointing to examples of unsecured litter like cans blowing off the back of trucks and hitting other vehicles or getting in their path and potentially causing accidents.
According to its website (www.palmettopride.org) PalmettoPride is a legislative initiative created to fight litter and help beautify South Carolina. Through the foresight and vision of our state legislators, PalmettoPride was created in response to citizens’ concerns regarding the amount of litter in South Carolina.
PalmettoPride is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 organization that is a true public/private partnership comprised of state agencies, concerned citizens, corporate sponsors, and community and civic organizations with the stated goal of encouraging “behavioral change” in our citizens about litter. Surveys suggest that over 80% of people who litter do so intentionally. Changing this intentional behavior isn’t going to happen overnight. We fight to eradicate litter and change the behavior of those that litter through four different avenues.
• Our Education efforts have reached hundreds of thousands of South Carolina school children through our anti-litter curriculum, marionette show and various other programs.
• We work closely with law Enforcement to prosecute littering and illegal dumping.
• We raise Awareness of litter in South Carolina to let people know reducing litter isn’t just about beautification, it’s about economic development.
• We work with hundreds of local organizations and thousands of volunteers on Pickup efforts that have dramatically reduced litter.
Founded in 2014, the Piedmont Physic Garden is a nonprofit botanical garden in Union, South Carolina. PPG was inspired by London’s Chelsea Physic Garden with the mission of exhibiting the medicinal, cultural, economic and environmental importance of plants to the people of Union County and the surrounding Piedmont region of South Carolina.
Please visit www.piedmontphysicgarden.org for more information.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.