Yesterday, I joined my first ever larger group beach clean up effort down in Asbury Park (hosted by the Surfrider Foundation’s Jersey Shore chapter). When I first started paying more attention to all the trash and plastic last summer, I remember thinking how I wanted to look into joining a community clean up (in addition to organizing one myself). There’s something so invigorating and rewarding about being a part of something so much bigger than yourself. Truly an inspiring experience - and if you get the chance to be a part of a big clean up in your area - I highly recommend giving it a go! 🙌🏼
I picked up all sorts of stuff and was able to easily fill a large garbage bag (even with 80+ other volunteers scoping the same area). I find that no matter where I’m picking up trash (beach, park, hiking trail, city sidewalk..) - I find a lot of the same types of things. Single use plastic bottles, bottle caps, plastic straws, single use coffee cups, coffee cup lids, plastic shopping bags, styrofoam takeout food containers / pieces, plastic food packaging / wrappers, dog poop bags, cigarettes, toys, plastic lighters, balloons… the list goes on.
After the clean up ended with Surfrider, I stuck around with 2 other volunteers (Jillyan and Melissa). We walked the boardwalk, treated ourselves to vegan doughnuts, and made our way to the opposite end where we spontaneously ended up picking up some more litter in a spot that looked like it had been neglected for a long while. We found 3 perfectly viable trash bags (amongst the accumulated litter) and knew we couldn’t just leave it all there - it didn’t take us long to fill up all 3 bags!
Last night, I was thinking about Hansel and Gretel ( 🤣) and that trail of crumbs they leave that gets eaten up by the birds - leaving them unable to find their way back home. Humans are leaving behind a plastic trail of sorts (whether they know it or not). It’s getting blown around, and often times gets eaten up by birds (or other wildlife). It’s not easy to retrace our steps - and even harder to reverse the havoc we’ve caused thus far — but we have to try.