See this turtle's miraculous recovery after getting caught in a piece of litter.

When it comes to prioritizing environmental concerns, curbing litter isn't exactly at the top of the list.

After all, when there are much bigger dangers like harmful emissions, overfishing, and climate change to worry about, how much harm are a few pieces of plastic on the ground really going to do?


Just splitting a sixer of Strawberry Crush with my bros. What's the worst that could happen? Photo by iStock.

But there's one turtle that would staunchly disagree with that mindset (or, at least he would if he could talk).

Meet Peanut. He's a turtle. And he's lucky to be alive.

The red-eared slider was found wandering the St. Louis area in 1993 with a six-pack ring trapped around his mid-section.

Peanut re-creating the fateful incident. All Peanut photos by Missouri Department of Conservation, used with permission.

Even after his rescuers snipped the plastic rings off, Peanut's shell was forever deformed into a figure-8, peanut-y shape (hence his name). Due to the constriction of his shell, some of Peanut's internal organs (his lungs, in particular) failed to grow properly.

These impairments made Peanut an easy target for predators, which meant he was unable to be released back into the wild.

Today, Peanut has a home and a job with the State of Missouri.

The 31-year old turtle resides at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, where he is treated by the state herpetologist. He's also the official mascot for Missouri's Department of Transportation and Department of Conservation's anti-littering effort, a program called No MOre Trash.

Peanut is ready for his close-up.

In his heyday, Peanut made as many as two or three appearances a month at schools and events across Missouri.

He and his handlers would encourage people young and old to dispose of their trash the right way to prevent other animals from ending up like Peanut.

Peanut rockin' out.

Now that Peanut's a little older, he's taking it easy.

"We put Peanut in semi-retirement," Catherine McGrane, assistant nature center manager for Powder Valley, told Upworthy. Traveling back and forth to lots of events can be stressful for a turtle because of all the handling and being transferred to water of varying pH levels.

These days, Peanut still travels to large events like the Missouri State Fair, where he's a popular attraction and educator. Every year, 90,000 to 110,000 visitors travel to Powder Valley to see Peanut and the site's two other resident turtles in the visitor's center lobby.

Peanut hanging out in his tank at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center.

Peanut is a living, breathing example of the impact our garbage can have on the environment.

Whether it's turtles in six-pack rings or squirrels in yogurt containers, what happens to our trash and how we dispose of it matters.

McGrane shared a few other common household items to watch out for: "Any fishing line, or plastic lines, because animals can get tangled, not just in the water, but by a bird or squirrel, " she said. "And be mindful of balloons when they pop outside. Birds and other animals may ingest them."

"Please think more about your trash," is what Peanut would say if his lungs weren't deformed and if he could talk.


The best way to dispose of six-pack rings, fishing line, and yogurt containers is to cut them into smaller pieces before dropping them in the recycling. This simple step can protect fish and wildlife from getting stuck or swallowing large pieces. Balloons and plastic shopping bags also pose a serious threat to animals who eat them or get entangled. Consider balloon-free celebrations and use cloth bags at the store to keep these items out of landfills.

When you're out and about, make sure your trash and recyclables wind up in the right place, in the proper condition.

Because we can all do our part to protect our natural resources and wildlife.

Peanut loves when you recycle. Keep it up. Photo by iStock.

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"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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