I got tired of reading about wildlife getting trapped in human garbage. I've seen enough disturbing pictures of turtles deformed by six-pack rings and seabirds strangled in plastic grocery bag handles to want to do something about it.
Trash that is hazardous to wildlife is everywhere: I see plastic rings from milk and motor oil containers, plastic bags, elastic hair ties, packaging ties and all sorts of other items in a ring shape—including the dreaded six-pack plastic rings. I find them laying in parking lots, park trails, in my front yard and just about everywhere.
It's hard to just leave it there and walk away, knowing the damage it can do. But who wants to touch someone else's trash?
My Animal Saver Device
The package states that it "cuts through 1.2 mm of cold, rolled steel." I can tell you from experience that it does all that and more. You don't need a strong grip for this tool to work for you—so ladies (or anyone else with dainty hands), you need not be intimidated in trying this. You can cut through all sorts of metal wire or thick plastic as if it were warm butter. It's quite a rush, actually.
I keep this tool in the side compartment of my car door, so it's readily available. I snip things all the time. Sometimes I carry the objects to a trash bag, but if I have to leave them where I found them, at least I've minimized their threat as a wildlife trap.
I keep a small box in my car trunk to haul stuff away, as well as one of those "arm extender tools" so that I can grab stuff that I wouldn't want to touch with my bare skin.
Not On My Watch
You might think this is the hobby of an extremely obsessive, eccentric person. Perhaps that is true. But I can tell you that this is extraordinarily easy to do. It takes no time at all, and it's not even the least bit dirty. Even a germophobe could do this (speaking from personal experience here)! It's something anyone can do, and that is why I'm sharing it.
I may not save all the wildlife out there, but at least the trash I come in contact with has been rendered safer for wildlife.
In my own home, I try to make sure that anything that goes in my garbage can or recycling bin has been properly cut. Any loops or rings (including the garbage bag handles themselves) are cut through. This gives me a little bit of reassurance in the odd chance that what I throw away gets loose somehow.
Items floating around in parking lots are more at risk for coming in contact with wildlife than trash sealed away in a landfill. However, you have to imagine at some point in the future that anything in a landfill can and will eventually get loose again. It may take a million years, but it will eventually happen, and I'd like the wildlife that may come in contact with it to have a fighting chance.
For Further Thought
Consider being part of efforts to ban plastic bags and six-pack plastic rings. Look out for petitions and other efforts. There are more wildlife-friendly options being developed, such as edible six-pack plastic rings. Public pressure can do a lot to speed up the process. There are lots of different groups doing this work. The groups in the previous link are large, well-known organizations, but don't overlook small, local organizations, which are often very effective, as well. You can adopt a highway, either as part of an official group or simply tend to the road in front of your home.
We all have to do our share, because if we don't, who else will?