"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Beach Trash - 18 pounds

Today we took a family hike along the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex. We followed the beach 2.6 miles south to a huge sand dune, climbed the dune, explored, and enjoyed a wonderful picnic lunch before heading back. Though today's trek wasn't about deed doing, I figured it'd be easy enough to do this one.

WOW...I sure did "misunderestimate" this one!

The project:
Pick up trash during a family hike.

2 hours (We only picked up on the return trip of this out-and-back route. The entire trek took us 6 hours.)

Why bother?
Whenever we visit any beach (or public open space or park of any description, really) we find trash, and usually plenty of it. I'm sure most of it simply blew away from picnickers and hikers, day campers and fisherfolk. Other folks are just plain rude and leave it behind. I figured it wouldn't be a big deal to bring a garbage bag with us and pick up trash on our way back to the car. Good thing I brought a 16-gallon bag!

Worth it?Well, I'm glad we picked up the trash. Someone needed to do it. Most of it was plastic and will never decompose (or at least not soon enough).

Did you know there's a gigantic garbage drift in the ocean swirling, swirling, full of plastic that just won't go away? It's called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and it measures hundreds of miles across. While our cotton and wood rot and our metal eventually rusts, plastic goes on indefinitely.

In the end, we filled a 16-gallon kitchen trash bag with 13 pounds of trash, and also removed 5 pounds of scrap wood (plywood and nailed wood - we quickly decided to limit our effort to items generally along our path, and to leave most of the wood to nature). Most of the garbage we collected is actually recyclable, so once we arrived home, I spent a few minutes sorting into appropriate bins for delivery with our own recyclables. Our collection included:
- 3 shovel handles
- 4 broken toy shovels
- multiple plastic grocery bags
- 1 Mylar balloon featuring faded Disney princesses
- 1 boot
- 1 clog
- 2 flip flops, but not a matched pair
- 2 bleach bottles, one with bleach still inside
- countless beverage bottles, most plastic, but a few glass
- 1 pair of mittens
- 2 more mismatched mittens
- fishing paraphernalia
- gift ribbons and bows
- food wrappers
- 3 beer cans (2 Coors, one Bud) that dated back to pull-tab days


  1. oh, jen - i hear you on this one....i keep the link to the ocean garbage dump as a favorite - and make myself look at it once a week or so. reminds me to do the right thing. we went to a beach on the bay friday that used to be a dump, and is now a pretty cool place to walk the dog and check out street art. our little group managed to pick up a trash bag's worth of trash. without even trying. how do people lose so many shoes??!! we're fighting the good fight!!!!

  2. I bet if we went down there today we'd find another mismatched set of shoes (or two or three). Amazing, isn't it? Thanks for your input, EC!


It's a free country. Exercise your right to free speech here -->