In the past two days, while walking the New York City streets, I’ve found two of those plastic six-pack holder rings on the ground. The first one was on Park Avenue, and the second one was just up the street from my apartment. I picked both of them up because, well, I feel bad about plastic. Also, I just finished reading Yes Man (no, I haven’t seen the movie, yet, and it’s like…who really takes the time to read books adapted into Jim Carrey vehicles?, but…I’ve been on a non-fiction kick and it was written by this British guy so there’s the occasional “bollocks” and “loo” and lots of tea drinking). Anyway, I’m kind of impressionable, so I guess the thought has been, YES, I will pick up more trash.
As I was picking up the second ring, I got to thinking…this is probably one of those things that got blown way out of proportion and doesn’t even make a huge difference. And according to the one, decade-old source I bothered to find, I was right! Cecil Adams says:
The fact is…that the six-pack-ring threat has been greatly exaggerated. According to the Center for Marine Conservation, only 50,000 of the 10.4 million items collected during the 1998 cleanup (0.48 percent) were six-pack rings. Between 1988 and 1998, U.S. cleanups uncovered 1,089 instances of animal entanglement, but only 72 (7 percent) involved six-pack rings. The real offenders were monofilament fishing line, fishhooks, and lures, implicated in 461 cases (42 percent). Add in crab and lobster traps, nets, and related equipment, and we find that fishing gear accounts for almost half of all entanglements.
Oh, and this is a fun fact: “All rings currently made will degrade in sunlight in a few weeks or months, depending on the season.”
But yeah, I’m still going to pick them up and stretch each ring out until it’s just a big floppy piece instead of a potential deathtrap. And you know, at first that whole “Save the Sea Kittens” campaign by PETA seemed really ridiculous, and it still does, but they really are adorable. You can even make your own sea kitten by selecting the type of fish (trout, salmon, tuna, or flounder) adorning it with hair, ears, sunglasses, a unicorn horn, et cetera, and then giving it a name. It’s a pretty amazing experience. I made a flounder with surgically enhanced lips, a fu manchu moustache, and a tiara that I named Meg Ryan.
I read some AP article about the sea kitten campaign and it was kind of awesome because they interviewed children in a small Alaskan fishing town where a girl replied, “I don’t think of fish as sea kittens, I think of them as food.” That may just be her mercury poisoning speaking, but sounds like my kind of girl: no nonsense with a hearty appetite.