In June 2008, tons of trash was found washed up on the shore of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Over the past few years, these piles of garbage have been discovered more and more on the shores of western Michigan destinations including Manistee, Muskegon and Allegan County. Investigators, volunteers and Adopt-A-Beach participants were quick to help in the cleanup process in cleaning what was mostly food wrappers and containers. However, it took them a while to identify where all of the trash was coming from and why it was suddenly appearing in large groups on these western shores. In the fall of 2011, the source of the trash was discovered to be flooding from an overflow of garbage in the storm sewer system in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a strong current that washed the garbage onto these shores.
I think this is an unfair occurrence Michigan must face. When Wisconsin’s and Illinois’s garbage floats over to our beaches we have to take care of other people’s garbage when we already have our own to deal with. There are several impacts that come from this issue. For one, we lose the beauty of clean and natural-looking beaches. Second, Michigan animals may choke or get strangled in the garbage and die. This could even hurt the amount of fish in the Great Lakes. Also, the amount of plastic in the water (which we drink) will likely rise due to the fact that most of the garbage found were plastic wrappers and plastic containers.
One solution is to continue to clean the beaches by picking up the trash that washes up onto the shore. Another would be to strictly enforce littering in Wisconsin and Illinois where this trash is coming from. Shores would have to be monitored more closely and littering tickets could ride in price to make people less likely to litter.
By: Lauren Evasic