Local Cities Push to Keep Plastic Out of Mississippi River
Brooklyn Center Mayor-Elect Mike Elliott is eager to join other mayors along the Mississippi River in fighting to reduce plastic pollution. The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative wants to cut the number of plastic in the river by half by the year 2020.
Mike Elliott lives just a few blocks from the Mississippi and wants to protect the river from plastic pollution. He is eager to join other mayors along the Mississippi to cut down on this problem.
“This is a wonderful natural resource for our city,” Elliott said.
The mighty Mississippi is morphing into the plastic Mississippi. Approximately 40 percent of plastic debris in the Gulf comes from the river.
“It could end up down in Louisiana,” Elliott said. “Also it could end up in the ocean, which impacts all of us.”
Reducing plastic pollution in the Mississippi
The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative wants to cut that number to 20 percent by 2020.
“This plastic ends up polluting the river,” Elliott said. “It breaks down but not completely, it gets into the food source, into the fish. It also gets into the ground water.”
Trevor Russell is the water director for Friends of the Mississippi River. He believes keeping plastic out of the water is of paramount importance.
“If someone throws a plastic bag on the ground, sooner or later the next rain storm is going to wash that into a storm drain untreated right into the Mississippi River,” Russell said. “What we do to our land is what we do to our water.”
Plastic does not break down in water. It eventually becomes tiny particles known as micro plastics.
“Micro plastics are building up in river water, river sediment and aquatic life,” Russell said. “It’s also in fish and mussels and that can pose pretty serious health risks.”
Clean up efforts
Elliott and I picked up an eye-popping amount of garbage along a small patch of the river bank in Brooklyn Center. We found plenty of plastic, along with bottles, Styrofoam and other garbage.
Elliott wants Brooklyn Center to do its part to keep plastic out of the river.
“As a city,” Elliott said, “we can work on getting volunteers to come down here and clean up some of the plastic that we see along the river.”