Thursday, February 25, 2010

Community Count Collection - Claudia Kousoulas


THE IDEA BEHIND IT? As Claudia says herself after picking pits of plastic up off the beach that don't belong there:

"I’m going to take a second look at some of my unconsidered habits and try to eliminate unnecessary plastic."

Let me catch you up on what the Community Count Collection is. If you go to, or live by a beach, you can do a Daily Ocean style cleanup. Collect for 20 minutes, take some pictures of the beach and the trash, write a few words, send it to me, and I will post it here on my blog. I will add the pounds of trash you collected to my running tally, and highlight your cleanup. You can find the the ongoing tally of pounds of trash collected around the world if you look to the right of my blog and scroll down.

This time the person sending in the information is not my friend Beverly, BUT it is the best friend of Beverly's sister! Who, if I have this right, heard about what Beverly was doing by sending me her beach cleanup results and decided on her own to do the same! WOW! I'm thrilled. Thanks Claudia. Read her thoughtfully written write up below. Consider joining in on this Community Count Collection I've got going. Let's make it a GLOBAL TREND, shall we?

1 mile - 1.5 pounds of trash collected
Surfside, Florida (north of Miami Beach)

At first glance, there’s not a lot of garbage on the beach in Surfside, Florida (which is just north of Miami Beach, on the same barrier island). There are no scudding plastic bags or oily slicks. The water is a bouncing aqua and the sand is smooth and white.

That’s because the beach is “cleaned” regularly. Every morning a tractor drags the sand, steering around early morning exercisers and churning bits of garbage into the sand. And beachgoers are pretty good about using the trashcans that are emptied every few days by a little truck with pincer arms which lifts the wire bins over the driver and into the holding bin.

But as you walk along, your eye adjusts and begins to spot little bright bits of plastic and worn but resilient lumps of Styrofoam. Some shards are recognizable—bits of sneaker, a fragment of beach toy, or things that no one brings to the beach—a pen cap, faucet handle, or plastic propeller.

In a walk of a mile, I picked up about 11/2 pounds of trash.

Most of the garbage seems food-related. The bottle caps from soda and water bottle that have been dutifully recycled pile up thick and fast, along with plastic snack bags and take-out containers.

All those bits of plastic get churned by the sea and the tractor, ground up and could eventually displace the sand on our beaches. As oceanographer Charles Moore, discovered of the North Pacific Central Gyre described it on the Colbert Report, the plastic is only a mess in the ocean and beaches, but it absorbs toxins and transmits them up the food chain to us.

We can keep hauling it off and disposing of it properly, but there are an endless stream of bottle caps and drinking straws. I long ago stopped buying bottled water and tote reusable shopping bags, but I’m going to take a second look at some of my unconsidered habits and try to eliminate unnecessary plastic.