Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ain't No Big Thing

Coastal Cleanup.  Third Saturday of September.  An opportunity, an excuse, to get down to the sea and walk.  And pick up trash.   This year, rather than walking the same beach with dozens of other people, I decided I would head to the South Spit.  My occasional lunch-hour walks always produce trash and I presumed there would be fewer people heading that way.  I was not wrong - I was IT.  I had this beautiful stretch all to myself. In the grand scheme of things, not such a bad thing.
 The air was thick.  Drippy.  It got a little difficult to see my way with the spectacles covered as they were.
 I watched these guys huddle.  And land.  And sprint.  And flow.  Amazing ballet, stop on a dime as a group.

I have found that this beach collects most of it's debris high up.  As folks come to "appreciate" the serenity, they build lovely little dwellings and leave their trash behind, which is gently nudged by the rising tides as if to prevent its being swept out to be be consumed by the creatures who live there.  This means I have to trudge in the soft sand to find the trash.  Not as much fun as the water's edge where the cold can lap at my toes.

Gratefully, there were no large items.  No big things.  Just many many small ones.  As my bucket got fuller, and I would think, "that's it, nothing else will fit", I would find one more thing and tuck it in amongst the other small pieces.  As I neared the parking lot, I spotted a beer box filled with paper, probably left behind from a bonfire, so finally had to break down and use the feed bag I brought.  

I sorted and counted and will report my findings to be included in the count.  Multiply that by the hundreds of others who were out in Humboldt and California and the northwest and the right coast and we kept a lot of trash out of the ocean.  My final tally:
  • 61 cigarette butts
  • 1 chew can
  • 2 coffee cups/1 lid
  • 5 beverage bottle lids
  • 1 CD
  • 17 pieces of dense foam from floats and floatables
  • 15 pieces of foam meat trays
  • 1 shoe
  • 28 pieces of plastic from buckets, tubs and such
  • 19 pieces of plastic bags and wrappers
  • 9 shotgun "innards"... wadding...whatever
  • 1 cardboard box of paper
  • 1 shoelace
  • 1 bag of poop
I have to say this last one boggles my mind.  Someone took the time to carry a bag to the beach to clean up after their dog.  They picked up the poop.  Then left it.  Thank you people...almost. You were this close to being responsible....

If you didn't make it out this year, it's not too late.  Go out to the street in front of your home or business and pick up the litter there that will flow to the storm drains in the next rain and will end up in the sea.  Look at the cigarette butts and candy wrappers the next time you walk down the street.  They WILL end up in the bay if someone doesn't stop them.  And put the third Saturday in September on your calendar for 2013.


Fred Mangels said...

I actually do go out and pick up the trash on the street out in front of my house about once a week.

Do you pick the trash up by hand or do you use something to pick it up. I use a PikStik thing I bought at Shafer's. Makes it real easy to pick up just about everything.

beachcomber said...

That's great that you do that, Fred. I'm amazed at the gutters FULL that will flow downstream as soon as it rains. I have a picker just because it's easier than bending over for tiny things once I have a bucket load. Plus, it keeps me from having to pickup cigarette butts by hand.

Fred Mangels said...

I don't have a set schedule for trash pick up. Usually it's just when I see a couple visible pieces of trash in the gutters across the street from my house. I figure it's then time to go on a sweep.

Oddly enough, that's usually the day after City Garbage does their trash pickup. Sometimes a lot of stuff ends up on the street after that.

And it's not just when they dump the trash containers into the truck. I was following a City Garbage truck down Wabash to Broadway earlier this summer. I saw maybe 7 plastic bags fly out of the truck between E Street and Broadway. Maybe 3 of the shopping type plastic bags, 2 of the newspaper wrappers and at least 2 of the freezer/ sandwich bags.