22 February: Put waste in its place

Sri Vani Yerramilli, San Francisco “Seeing trash in San Francisco is common. There aren’t sufficient trash cans available in certain areas. I have started the habit of taking my trash with me if a trash can isn’t available. I’m helping my city, and if everyone did the same it would make a big difference.”

Put waste in its place. When you do have waste, dispose of it properly. If you’re in an area without receptacles, put your waste in a bag or pocket until you arrive at a bin.


Much of the litter humans throw on the ground is washed into waterways, where it eventually reaches the ocean. Plastic represents the largest portion of marine litter, and the amount of plastic in the ocean is increasing.

According to the UN’s Convention on Biodiversity, plastic litter most affectsspecies of sea lions, seals, turtles, whales, and birds.

When these animals encounter plastic in the waters where they live, they are often tangled in it and become unable to move. They then slowly starve to death.

Conversely, some of the animals that are not entangled eat the plastic itself. They are at risk of choking on large, rigid pieces. Any plastic that is swallowed is not digested, but accumulates in the stomach, giving a false sense of satiety and leading again to the animals’ starvation.

Eliminate litter by reducing your use of disposable items, recycling whenever possible, and disposing of any remaining waste items properly.

If you see waste collecting on the ground in a certain location, petition your local leaders to install a bin and take the rubbish away on a regular schedule. In smaller communities, a group of residents and parishioners can take this up as a community project.

With a prayer like this, pray for gratitude and stewardship:

Thank you for the wildlife
of rivers, lakes and oceans,
of desert, bush and rainforest.
Show us how to care for their habitat,
and teach us to treat all your creatures kindly,
for you have made them all.

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