VIRGINIA BEACH – It’s estimated that by the year 2050 the amount of the plastic floating around in the Earth’s oceans could outweigh the fish swimming in them.
Every week it seems there’s another report of a whale, a dolphin, or a sea turtle dying due to the ingestion of, or entanglement in, plastic.
Numerous reports estimated that eight million metric tons of plastic go into our oceans each year, which roughly equals one garbage truck load every single minute.
On Saturday at the Brock Environmental Center, Lynnhaven River Now is hosting Growing a Greener Faith, a program aimed at helping area residents learn how to eliminate plastics, understand the benefits of using native plants, and find out how community gardens can have a positive impact on the environment.
“It takes a community to restore and protect our waterways,” said Morgan Schmidtendorff, Pearl Homes coordinator at LRN. “Water is a large part of our daily enjoyment, our recreation, our local food, and our livelihoods. We all want to do our part to restore the health of all of our sacred waterways and protect them for future generations to enjoy.”
The goal, she said, is to help people of faith recognize and fulfill their responsibility for the stewardship of those gifts.
From creation to disposal, plastic is a large problem. Most plastic ends up in landfills, the oceans, waterways, or elsewhere in the environment, Schmidtendorff said.
“Plastics take over 500 years to biodegrade,” Schmidtendorff said. “One small change in our everyday routines can make a big difference.”
For instance, using one reusable water bottle rather than a single use bottle saves an average of 156 plastic bottles annually from — in a best case scenario — ending up in a landfill, and in a worst case scenario, the ocean.
Likewise, the average reusable bag can replace more than 700 disposable plastic bags.
Multiple alternatives will be discussed at the workshop.
Native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions, Schmidtendorff said. They require far less attention, saving time, money, and water. In addition, they provide vital habitat for birds, insects, and other species.
“Planting natives is increasingly important as residential and commercial properties continue to encroach on our woodland and open spaces,” she said.
As for community gardens, Schmidtendorff said they’re an opportunity to not only bring congregations together (there are some 250 in Virginia Beach), but also to provide produce for soup kitchens and food pantries.
The cost of the program is $10 and it runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a light breakfast and lunch included. Registration can be done online or by calling 757-962-5398.