Climate hero of the week

Climate hero of the week: The boy who recycles fishing line to protect marine life

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Image: Northwest Indiana Times, fishing line, climate hero of the week

Image: Northwest Indiana Times

As we continue to see the effects of global climate change, it’s always heartening when we stumble across a story that shows how the general public bands together to help make a difference. Here at OutwardOn we are dedicated to honoring those who create innovative solutions to our world’s biggest climate problems. This week in Climate hero of the week we are introducing Life Scout Griffin Zimmerman.

All it took was one day for Life Scout Griffin Zimmerman to realize the dangers of something so common to many American families: fishing. Or rather, fishing line.

Anyone who’s ever been fishing knows the temptation to just throw the used fishing line back in the water is great. Part of the problem with human waste and the declining environmental health deals with our unwillingness to consider the ramifications of our actions, even something as simple as throwing away materials that can be recycled and used to make other products.

In the grand scheme of things, fishing line isn’t the sole cause of marine life endangerment, nor will recycling it fix all of the problems we’re facing. But in the small town of Hobart, Indiana, a community is taking a small first step at addressing the problem.

One day, while Zimmerman, of Boy Scout Troop 69, was providing community service for his Life Scout rank at Robinson Lake, he came across a catfish entangled in fishing line. He managed to cut the line and set the fish free, but realizing that it would have otherwise died impressed upon him the need to do something.

With the help of his science teacher, Nathan Albertin, Zimmerman researched the problem over the summer and proposed a Monofilament Fishing Line Recycling Program to the Hobart Park Board for his Eagle Project. Monofilament line is single-strand, high density, nylon fishing line used on fishing reels and in the manufacturing of fishing nets. The program, implemented in parks across the country, promotes awareness of the dangers monofilament poses to the environment and to encourage recycling and cleanup. The board approved the program for implementation in July.

Now, fifteen Monofilament Recycling Bins have been installed at four locations throughout Hobart: Robinson Lake Park, Pavese Park, Fred Rose Park and Festival Park. People are encouraged to deposit their used fishing line in the bins to help keep the waters clean and the marine life healthy. The conservation efforts will also ensure that no boat motors become damaged by fishing line, either.

If this was all the Monofilament Fishing Line Recycling Program did, we’d still be pleased. But to make it even better, the program takes the fishing line, collected by Boy Scouts, and ships it to Pure Fishing, a parent company of Berkley bait and tackle supplies. The fishing line is then chopped up and melted down to make Berkley’s Fish Habs, artificial fish habitats. This collaboration between Zimmerman’s Monofilament Recycling initiative and Berkley’s own growing program to lead the fishing line recycling effort worldwide is a perfect match. That latter has a long history with this kind of conservation effort and plans to expand their program to involve more states and federal agencies.

The Boy Scouts of America itself also has a long history of environmental activism and concern. Indiana saw its first Monofilament Fishing Line Recycling program in March 2011, courtesy of Boy Scout Troop 202. The Monofilament Recovery and Recycling bins were placed at Carmel-Clay Parks, and since then more have been implemented in the state.

Sara is an editorial intern from MTSU, and an almost double major in journalism and English because she can't make up her mind. When she isn't studying or trying not to die on highway 840, Sara works on her novella and her thesis on Gothic Victorian literature, showers her dog with kisses and waits for the next Lana Del Rey album. While watching American Horror Story on repeat.