Friday, November 9, 2018

Toss Me a Life Jacket!

Toss Me a Life Jacket!

Hello! We are Living Lands & Waters and we’re living life in the trash lane. Our 
number one job is to leave America’s rivers cleaner than we found them while 
educating students about the environmental impacts of waste.

Trash Collectors

Chad Pregracke’s first love was the Mississippi River (see also: his back yard). 
But our love has spread far and wide over the 20 years since we became a 501(c)3 
nonprofit organization!

Sponsors and volunteers make living the dream possible. There’s no denying that 
they are our heroes and we are forever grateful for every single one of them.

We also have a lot of love for our fleet of five barges, two towboats, five workboats, 
two skid steers, an excavator, five work trucks and a crane.

The floating portion of our fleet, “the barge,” makes a statement wherever it travels. 
It’s essentially a floating recycling center that houses our equipment and crew.  
Built out of repurposed barns and a flooded Quad Cities strip club, the house barge 
serves as both the crew’s teaching and living quarters. If one of us isn’t cooking 
up a gourmet meal to share, we default to making some mean frozen pizzas in the 

The Really Classy, Trashy Types

The types of trash we collect consists of 55-gallon barrels, tires, appliances, bears, beets, battle star galactica 
and more odd objects than you can imagine.  Plastic is, by far, the number one 
thing we find in America’s rivers. 
Loooooots of plastic.

Some of the trash is thrown there 
intentionally and some of it lands there with the wind. Maybe some of it grows
legs and walks itself there, we’re not 
really sure but we don’t 
discriminate - our job is to collect as much of it as possible. And sometimes we wear our trashy tiaras while sitting on garbage thrones while 
doing said job, too. #classyandtrashy

How Much Trash?

We’re about to collect our 10 millionth pound of trash in our 20th year! With more  than 100,000 volunteers working side-by-side with us, we’ve lifted most of it by hand. But, with our excavator in full commission, we expect to start blowing those numbers out of the water (because sometimes you have to take the easy pun) starting in our 2019 season. Stay tuned!

Where Does the Trash Go?

Once the barge is full, the majority of garbage we collect is recycled at one of
our Recycle Like a Rockstar events.

But the stuff we don’t get...

You’ve seen The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
And the sea turtle with a plastic straw embedded in its nose? :( 
It’s estimated that 90% of all ocean trash comes from rivers. The good news? 
Something can be (and is being) done about it!

The Cost of River & Ocean Trash

The effects of aquatic pollution on 1) river and ocean life and 2) humans are 
devastating, not to mention the huge economic costs. Fisheries are at risk. 
There are risks of entanglement and threats to animal behavior, health and existence. 
They often confuse plastic for food, then become prey and eventually make their 
way up the food chain to your dinner plate.

You know what this means, right?

This is exciting news because it means that you don’t have to be a full-fledged tree
hugger to pitch in and care about the environment! 
Even if you’re doing it for yourself and the sake of your kiddos, every effort helps.

What does that mean, though?

We’re talking about education and awareness, especially while consumer-ing! 
Can we avoid buying and using single-use plastics? Are we aware that there are 
microplastics in many home beauty products and clothing items? Can we use 
reusable bags while shopping (groceries or otherwise)? These are just a few ideas and we’ll get into more in future blogs!

Consider this. Before you buy something - disposable or resulable - ask yourself, 
“Do I need it?” Even buying an excessive amount of reusable bottles, bags and 
straws, albeit well-intentioned, is still an excess. If we take care of and use the 
things we already own, it’s easier to reduce!

And, if you want to pitch in outside of
your household, one way is to 
check out our volunteer opportunities
The rivers are vast and we can use all
the help we can get! You might get 
dirty (and by “might” we mean you
absolutely will be filthy) but you’re 
gauranteed to have an absolute blast 
with this crazy crew!

That’s our very abbreviated story! We have much more to share so check back often
for more trashy content that you can’t live without! #lifeinthetrashlane

True Story

This is the true story of 10 river rats picked to live on a barge, clean up rivers and their watersheds, work alongside volunteers and have their lives turned upside down. Follow along to find out what happens when people stop being trashy and start getting environmentally savvy!

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