We are so lucky in this province. A beautiful beach is often no more than a short bike ride away. What better way to meet up with old friends, new friends and family than to head out for a day or evening at the beach? It’s a part of our west coast lifestyle! It’s in our blood, our DNA, to spend time beside, in or on the water.
Unfortunately, our waters are not as clean as they used to be. There’s all kinds of trash on our beaches and in our parks, often an accumulation of years of not paying attention to what we did with our beach trash. Ocean plastic pollution is a huge problem.
Yes, most of us these days are super careful to make sure that we pack out what we bring to the beach, and make sure that we recycle everything that we can. But, some of us haven’t always been that careful, and there are still the odd few who still aren’t.
The result? Plastic and other trash in our waters and on our beaches. You’ve seen it. The straws, the bottle caps, the sandwich bags… lying half covered in the sand, or just under the surface of the water. It’s just a little piece, nothing much to notice really. Except, it is.
So, what can we do about it?
We can support organizations that are doing something about ocean plastic like the Ocean Legacy Foundation.
There are many wonderful organizations out there fighting the good fight to clean up our oceans. We support the Ocean Legacy Foundation at our depots by providing them with the deposit refunds from donated beverage containers. This organization is dedicated to cleaning up our area’s oceans, and their website is a wealth of information: https://oceanlegacy.ca/our-strategy/
You can donate your refundable beverage containers at any of our Regional Recycling locations.
The Ocean Legacy Foundation is not the only organization out there working to clean up the oceans. There are many others, like 4Ocean. Based in Florida this company was started by 2 surfers who wanted to clean up the beaches. They now sell bracelets made from recycled materials to raise money to fund their cleanup expeditions.
These are just 2 examples of organizations doing great things to clean up what others have left behind, and what has made its way into our oceans.
We can watch to make sure that we don’t leave any bits behind.
We can do our part too! When we go to the beach we can make sure to take every little bit away with us that we bring in. It’s about awareness, paying attention, and doing a little pre-planning. Take an extra bag or 2 (recycled of course) with you. Use one for the items that can be recycled, and one for the items that can’t.
As you enjoy your time, simply toss the trash or recycling in the appropriate bag. That way, when you leave, cleanup is a breeze! Toss the garbage in the trash on your way off the beach, and take your recycling to the depot or home for your blue bins.
A couple of hints…
– Take a couple of bag clips with you to keep the bags closed and discourage foragers.
– Take heavier bags that will not blow away so you don’t have to chase them down the beach.
– Be aware of items that can easily blow away or get lost and make sure that they are put into your sorting bags.
If you make everyone aware of what the plan is ahead of time, it will make it easier for everyone to adapt to the plan.
And, we can pay it forward and clean the beaches a little every time we are there.
Sound odd? Plogging is a new fad that has taken hold in Vancouver, and I think we can start a new variation dedicated to reducing ocean plastic. We’ll think of some fun names, get in on a trending hashtag (#beachcleanup) or two (recently #trashtag has also been trending), post selfies of ourselves cleaning the beaches and share pictures of the trash we’ve kept out of the water! Who doesn’t love a feel-good story?
So, how does this work? It’s pretty straightforward. Next time you head to the beach or out on the water take an extra bag or 2 with you to collect OPT (other people’s trash). You’ll likely want to have a pair of gloves as well.
- When you get to the beach, claim a portion of it. Look out at it and own it. Marvel in the beauty of it.
- Set a goal for yourself. You are going to spend a certain amount of time, clean a certain area of space or collect a certain amount of garbage. It doesn’t have to be a lot. It just has to be more than doing nothing. Five minutes, 5 pieces or 5 square meters is doing something.
- Now, take a walk along your stretch of beach, enjoying the view and looking down at your feet. Look closely as though you are looking for treasure. Pick up everything that you see that does not belong on your beach and put it in one of your bags. Keep at it until you have reached your goal.
- When you are done, take a moment to feel good about what you have done and enjoy the moment. Maybe sit for a bit and enjoy the sounds, the smells and the sights. Imagine what your beach looked like 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago.
- Take a picture or two now, if you want. Take a picture of your treasures, your beach and your satisfaction. Share it with your friends, your family and the world if you want. You can tag with #beachcleanup, an ongoing international hashtag.
Want to make a party of it? Invite your friends, organize a work beach cleanup, or think of something more creative. Share the love of doing a beach cleanup by talking with other people on the beach about what you are doing. Make it fun.
Taking the time and making the effort to clean up your portion of the beach is a great way to pay it forward, to enjoy the beach in the moment, and on future visits for years to come.
We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We’re very lucky to have all of this beauty just steps away. Enjoy it!