Trash Travels (Boy Does It Ever)

Ocean Conservancy released their report on marine debris from the 2009 International Coastal Cleanup, titled Trash Travels: From Our Hands to the Sea, Around the Globe, and Through Time.  The entire report is required reading for anyone interested in a snapshot of what is going on with our beaches and coastal environments.

The top ten most commonly found items should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been on a beach lately.  If I had to add anything common to the list it would be the various shrapnel I usually find: bits and pieces of larger items broken up by wave action like razor-sharp bits of green glass and soft-edged styrofoam coated in barnacles.

I was out yesterday afternoon for two hours cleaning up my usual stretch of beach and came home with a horribly misanthropic attitude. In addition to the usual debris I found a car’s oil tank dip stick (yes, really!), the knob for a shifter, actual oil cans oozing oil, and parts of a grocery store shopping cart.

This all of course means we’ve graduated from almost-forgiveable “oh no it flew away from me in the wind” types of debris to outright dumping, and I confess it makes me see red.  About the only thing that consoled me was sighting a large Atlantic stingray resting in the shallows towards the end of my walk.  At least that was until a large dog on the loose came tromping across the seagrass beds towards me and sent him off flashing into deeper water.  Sigh.

If nothing else, we can chalk up another 19 pounds on the One Ton Landed leaderboard and continue to compile data in the same tradition as the Conservancy on marine debris in the IRL.  I guess I’ll just have to learn to accept that there are going to be days when it feels more like a setback than a victory to try to keep this little stretch of coastline clean.

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