Big Bear Lake, CA, July 2, 2014 – With year round recreation, the San Bernardino National Forest is one of the busiest in the country. But with more visitors comes extra litter, and the Forest Service is asking for public cooperation in keeping the area garbage-free.

Some environmental effects are obvious. Plastics take decades to disintegrate and aluminum cans last in the environment forever. Trash contaminates soil and important water resources.

Here’s a more shocking statistic: Nationwide, about 10,000,000 animals die from litter-related causes every year. Birds, mammals, and reptiles can be injured or killed by ingesting or being strangled by plastic bags, and can be poisoned by contaminated water.

The Southern California Mountains Foundation coordinates 600 volunteers annually to help with litter abatement on public lands, and it’s still not enough. Collectively, they clean up over five tons of garbage each year from San Bernardino County forests and parks. The volume of trash is growing every day and the costs of cleanup and public education are rising too.

Leaving that one can or bag behind might not seem like it has a big impact, but think about how it adds up, and take a moment to recycle or dispose of it properly.