Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 290 - June 9, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20  min. 
4.6 pounds
1,083.2 pounds total 

0 cigarette butts

While I walked along picking up trash, a teenage couple scooped up what they could and threw it my bag. "Thank you," they said as they carried on. This is one of the only times people have actively joined me when they saw what I was up to. 

Beach cleanups alone are not the solution. An awareness arises from bending down, picking up this stuff yourself, looking at it, and throwing it "away". 
Because in the "throwing away"(only there is no away) other questions form. 

Where is all this trash going even when put in a can? (buried in landfills most likely)
How long does plastic hang around? (forever...seriously)
I use this in my everyday life and it's ending up on the beach? (ziplocks!)
Where can I buy a reusable water bottle? (after seeing half a dozen in 20 min. left on the sand)
And OK so there IS a problem with plastic grocery bags. (I find one almost every time I come out)
 I'll buy a reusable cloth one next time I'm out. (Someone in line sees you make the change.)

I rarely post the totally icky stuff I find, but these next two pictures are too timely to ignore.
While in the water the other morning, I almost inhaled a band aid into my mouth. Yuck!
Trash of all kinds floated in on the tide late last week. As is my habit, I had my mouth open for a second in the water before seeing the little plaster float by my face. 

I shared my near miss with my friend Kitt. We agreed, totally disgusting and started to joke about how at least, "you didn't inhale a condom!"

"Or a maxipad. I find those too," I said. We laughed, knowing that both of these items would be a major bummer. Somewhere in the back of my mind I felt like the possibility of either was far fetched. How odd considering I've found them before. I don't recall finding both a condom, and pad on the same 20 minute beach cleanup until tonight. The funny, or not-so-funny point being my friend and I had laughed about the horrors of encountering these items only hours before.

A mother and son stopped me while I was picking up trash with my handy trash picker. Community service and city workers use them to cleanup the parks and beach. The mother wanted to buy one for her and her son. The beach was trashed. 4.6 pounds doesn't adequately show how every time a wave receded there was another piece or two of clear plastic wrapper to pick up. 
These wrappers even when wet and sandy weigh fractions of a pound. 

My bag was full after 20 minutes and I didn't get much past Tower 26. Currents, tides, wind, ocean dynamics that are too complex for me to understand deposit more trash on the beach than you can stand to look at every once in awhile. I wished for the tides to shift, the currents to take back their plastic bounty after I finished. Seeing exactly what is "under the surface" weighs on me. 
Sometimes I'd like to look away. 
But now that I know, what's my choice?
Action feels so much better than inaction. This is one promise I can make you.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh... those are part of my top 5 worst things to pick up on the beach. Seriously, gross.

    You're absolutely right about (consistent) beach cleanups being SO great at creating much needed awareness. Before I started doing regular beach cleanups, I was working on reducing our trash... but then seeing all the trash (esp. plastics) on the beach really pushed me to focus on eliminating so many things from our day to day lives. There's only so many times you can pick up _________ before you finely say, "that's it, I'm not buying it because I don't want to contribute to this mess!" That's how I 100% gave up straws. :)

    I'm happy that the teenage couple picked up some stuff and acknowledged what you were... are... doing. It's the same thing out here, rarely do people actively join in :/

    Umm... have I told you thank you lately?? Hmm. ;) Thank YOU SO much for EVERYTHING!! :D