The Annual Blast -- Fireworks Debris Can Kill Animals

I like to spend my spare time on a Puget Sound beach near my home. As I gaze upon the natural beauty of the water and Olympics, I often think how fortunate we are to live in such a wondrous place.

Yet, last August, this beauty was marred when hundreds of plastic caps from the July Fourth fireworks celebrations were washed ashore. From a strip of beach no longer than 50 feet, my husband and I filled two large sacks with plastic caps and other fireworks debris.

It had been a full month since the Fourth of July, which means the caps had been floating in the Sound all that time before they made their way to shore. I can only guess at the number of fish and other sea creatures that died after ingesting the colorful plastic caps.

To them, such items look like tasty morsels of food and, when swallowed, get caught in the animals' throats, suffocating them. More often, the plastic ends up in their stomachs. Unable to be eliminated, the plastic accumulates there, causing a false feeling of fullness. This eventually leads to death through starvation.

The Fourth of July recalls a joyous time for us in America - a time when we obtained our independence and the right to live as we choose. This year, let's include the creatures who inhabit our American waters in our celebration.

We can do this easily by keeping our fireworks on land where the debris can be collected and disposed of properly. This year, let's make our celebration of freedom a celebration of all life.

- Vivian Kent-Russell, Edmonds