More than 1300 volunteers picked up nearly 15,000 pounds of trash from Yosemite National Park over the course of five days. Unsurprisingly, plastic makes up 70% of the garbage.
The thousands of pounds of trash left in Yosemite National Park every year are now better-understood thanks to new data, which conservationists hope will help convince federal lawmakers to outlaw the sale of single-use plastics throughout the entire national park system. Butane Gas Cylinder
According to the 5 Gyres Institute, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit devoted to reducing plastic use worldwide, plastic Gatorade bottles, Marlboro and Camel cigarette butts, granola bar wrappers by Nature Valley, bandages, and a lot of disposable paper coffee cups were among the frequently discovered garbage items picked up from the grounds in Yosemite this past summer.
Last year, the organization urged visitors to report any litter they encountered while exploring the nation's national parks.
The campaign received 558 entries in 16 parks, which is a small sample size for determining the extent of pollution and littering at the 423 national park sites in the nation.
The Yosemite Climbing Association's annual Facelift trash cleanup event, which brings thousands of volunteers to the National Park for a five-day event each fall, provided an advantage for Yosemite.
To paint a more accurate picture of the debris that evaded the park's effective trash collection system during peak season, 5 Gyres used a random sample of the 14,780 pounds of trash collected by over 1,300 volunteers at this year's event in addition to 88 litter entries submitted over the summer.
Other than plastic, cigarette butts (1,651 pounds) top the list, followed by beverage bottles as well as bottle caps (1,369 pounds), clothing and fabrics (1,338 pounds), food wrappers (376 pounds), and face masks (183 pounds).
Plastics made up nearly 70% of the 10,450 pounds that were sampled for the audit.
Straws, hats, sunglasses, takeout containers, lollipop sticks, toothbrushes and tampons, dental floss, kids' toys, and a few rubber tires were also taken out by volunteers.
Andra Janieks, the director of marketing for 5 Gyres, said that there were also oddities, including a drone, a toaster, an old Polaroid of a man wearing a "scandalous Santa outfit," used condoms, and several other "intimate products."
"Miscellaneous fragments" made up about 25% of the trash.
According to Janieks, the majority of the haul came from Yosemite Valley's high-visitor-concentration areas near the village, visitor centers, and campgrounds.
The group plans to electronically record the origins of each piece of trash gathered at the Facelift the following year.
According to supporters, Yosemite is a national park that sets the bar high for waste management.
Yosemite receives about 4 million visitors annually, and the national park collects roughly 2,200 tons of trash each year, which is equal to 3,900 dumpsters' worth, as per the National Park Service data.
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The National Park Service does not believe in dictating the baggage that visitors bring.
However, Yosemite and its affiliates have taken steps to reduce their trash output over the past ten years.
The park and its concessionaire have increased recycling bins, nearly eliminated single-use plastic water bottles from stores, stopped selling disposable propane canisters, increased Leave No Trace education, leaned into composting, and other initiatives as part of their Zero Landfill Initiative.
Scott Gediman, the spokesman for Yosemite, said that they hope that people will apply what they have learned here to their communities.
Yosemite may soon serve as the face of a growing national movement to ban the sale of disposable plastic goods on federal lands, according to its proponents.
According to CNBC, single-use plastics will no longer be sold after 2032.
Yosemite Hospitality, the concessionaire in the national park, plans to stop doing so much earlier.
Alison Waliszewski, the director of policy for 5 Gyres, said that if they can make one park plastic-free, that will serve as a model or a guide for how it can be done.
They are certain that Yosemite will be the park that sets the standard, San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Related article: Gulf of Maine Cleanup Drive Hauls Mountain of Ghost Gear, Nearly 5000 Pounds in Four Days
Tags 1300 volunteers, 15000 pounds garbage, garbage, Yosemite National Park, plastic
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