Children who dump waste, and others, need environmental lessons

When two teenage boys were caught on video dumping two trash cans of trash into the Atlantic Ocean after the Boca Bash boat party a few weeks ago, Rodney Barreto, chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, called it a “teachable moment.” ”

He also noted that illegally dumping waste into Florida waters is a “serious crime” and that “callous disregard for Florida’s environment will not be tolerated.”

He is right with all those scores. But kids aren’t the only ones who need a lesson in preserving our environment and treating our natural resources with respect in Florida. Apparently adults need a refresher course too.

On that note, there’s a new environmental education effort from the City of Miami called Leave No Trace. The concept comes from the Colorado nonprofit Leave No Trace, which has been educating the public on the subject for decades.

Better stewards are needed

This is important. It’s a welcome boost to prevent boaters and others visiting the city’s islands in Biscayne Bay from piling up their trash and then driving away with a clear conscience. Too often, that waste ends up in the water.

Under the new plan, which launched on May 18, the city wants visitors to act more like good stewards of the environment by bagging and bagging any waste they create. No more piles of waste next to the already overflowing garbage bins on the islands. No, take it with you and dispose of it properly on land.

The idea is not new. Many national parks require this. But for Miami, this is a significant change, and Miami boaters and other visitors to the islands must do their part. If we want to keep Biscayne Bay and all of South Florida’s waterways healthy, we can start by taking personal responsibility for our own waste.

You’d think this would be second nature, now that Florida relies so heavily on the health of the waters around us for our economy and our own recreation.

The city will launch an educational effort: putting up signs, removing trash bins on the city’s devastated islands and announcing that authorities will begin enforcing litter laws for those who insist on leaving their trash on the islands. A social media campaign will also take place.

Waste accumulates quickly

Until now, after a hard day of boating, trash bins often overflow at popular boating locations like Pace Picnic Island, Chris Evans, Miami’s director of parks and recreation, told the Miami Herald Editorial Board.

Especially during the sailing season, which runs roughly from April to October, waste can quickly accumulate on the islands. Even when people try to do the right thing by piling their waste in bags around the cans, a lot of waste ends up in the surrounding waters and needs to be cleaned up. That is polluting.

We’ve known about this problem for years: the waste piled up on the islands “kept coming up repeatedly,” often on social media, Evans said. Now they’re doing something about it.

This is a common sense measure. The first Earth Day was held in 1970, and Rachel Carson’s book, ‘Silent Spring’, about pesticides and the effects of environmental pollution, was published in 1962. We should all know enough by now to pack up our waste and not to be left on the ground. an island in the bay.

Also, never throw it in the ocean, even as a juvenile joke.

Exploitation for profit

The people of Florida have not always behaved particularly kindly towards nature. Development has run amok, the draining of the Everglades and plume hunters decimating entire bird species for their feathers – the list of ways we have ruthlessly exploited our environment is long.

So yes, there are lessons here for the two boys, ages 15 and 16, who were charged with pollution, a third-degree felony. According to arrest reports, the boys threw a significant amount of trash overboard: plastic water bottles, cans, food bags, plastic cups and other trash.

But there are lessons for the rest of us too. We must demonstrate with real actions that we value our fragile environment, the waterways that make South Florida so attractive. Sometimes that comes down to simple personal responsibility: disposing of your own waste properly.

This editorial was originally published in the Miami Herald. The Sun Sentinel sometimes republishes editorials that reflect our position. The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board includes Opinion Editor Steve Bousquet, Deputy Opinion Editor Dan Sweeney, Editorial Writer Martin Dyckman and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson. Editorials are the opinions of the Board of Directors and written by one of its members or a designee. If you would like to contact us, please send an email to [email protected].