Change begins with you

Post by Brandon Phillips

The leading cause of environmental damage is manufactured pollution through trash or waste left around. When the garbage is left, it can get swept up in rivers, lakes, or even oceans. Polluting has led to a plastic build-up in animals as each animal eats the plastic. Those animals eat the animals that ate plastic, and then those animals get eaten resulting in high poison levels and plastic build-up. Pollution causes detrimental harm that way, but it also harms others. Rivers and lakes are relied upon for outsourcing income. The income can be from fishing, camping near a lake, canoeing, etc. Areas that look horrible from trash lose their appeal to others, and the community loses a source of revenue. Pollution also destroys the community of freshwater for these communities. Some areas need the river for freshwater to survive.

Image of a wide-open river in the sunlight
The image is of the North Platte River near Casper, Wyoming, one of our state’s pride that runs down. It proves a water source for not just the people of Wyoming but also the wildlife. One primary source of income for Wyoming is the use of the river for tourist sites and fishing, even indirectly by the quality of the wilderness for hunting. Without it, the people in these communities would suffer. Image: Brandon Phillips

Knowing about pollution harming communities is essential; it is only the start. There is a fine line between knowing of damages to communities and for those communities to heal. My project is a one-page flyer; mention points on rivers are essential for the domestic and wildlife and the communities of the local areas. The topics are revenue, a source of fresh water, and the river’s natural beauty for these towns. The revenue comes from people visiting the area to look at the beautiful lake or game and fish; people staying in hotels or visiting local dinners help boost the income. The source of fresh water is always vital as natural water is expensive, and Wyoming is an agricultural area; water is vital for keeping farms going. Wyoming is known for its natural beauty, open space, and clear rivers. If trash started to gather up, that is the loss of something that makes Wyoming itself.

I tried to find organizations that do annual river clean ups. I did find an organization but ran out of time to reach out. Since that organization does not officially endorse me, it was better to give the tools for people to locate these organizations themselves.

I developed this project as a citizen of a local area and found trash in the North Platte River. I wanted this river not to lose its beauty. Wyoming is a diamond in the rough, and I wanted to preserve that for children in the future. I researched how to get people involved and found that people would do it if they improved what people already have. So, I found reasons and provided a way to reach out.

Brandon is a student at the University of Wyoming studying Zoology.


Papers that I read showed a connection between knowing and doing for environmental clean, especially with local community members:

Alam M.K., and D. Marinova. “Measuring the Total value of a River Cleanup.” Water Science technology 48(7) 149-156. 1 Oct 2003.

Gunggut H., Hing C.K., et al. “Internalization and Anti Littering Campaign Implementation.” Social and Behavioral Sciences. Vol 85 PP 544-553. 2013.

Smulders D. “Changing Behavior: Can Education Clean Up the City? Awareness and Behavior Towards Waste. A Case Study in Semarang, Indonesia.” Radboud University. 13 August 2020.


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