Coastal Clean Up

I think about volunteering a lot, but I never do it. The days are like untamed dogs that drag me along. But a friend called and asked if I wanted to pick up trash at the beach. I said, yes. It sounds like an easy yes. It wasn't. I really wanted to stay home and make jam.

I had no idea we were to be part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day organized by the Ocean Conservancy. We were given two bags - one for garbage and one for recycling. Then we were instructed to complete a survey by keeping a tally of what we picked up, which threw me into a spin. How in the heck are you supposed to pick up trash if you have to be tallying with a bowling score pencil the whole time. I didn't have enough pockets or the right glasses. My friend nudged me. "We'll estimate at the end," she whispered.

Then we stepped onto the beach and there was no trash. The shore actually looked pristine; sand, rocks, water. There was fog. I wondered where we were going to find trash, if I should stop and buy more canning jars on the way home.

It didn't take long though and my friend found a plastic bottle; the only one of the day. Then I found a lid for a plastic bottle. She found a candy wrapper, I found a piece of styrofoam and we barely stood up straight again until our garbage bags were full. Once our eyes adjusted to see trash it was everywhere. Mostly in bite size pieces.

There were a lot of plastic bottle lids and a lot of tiny styrofoam pieces. I nicknamed them snowflakes because they were impossible to pick up although we did. I'm not sure it mattered there were so many.

And somewhere between picking up an old plastic ball and a potato chip bag I forgot about the jam and realized I was having fun. Fun talking to the other people also picking up trash. Fun talking to the people on the trail not picking up trash. Fun being outside and seeing a result to our labor.

The most unexpected surprise though; I see trash everywhere now. And I name it as if I'm going to have to tally it with a short pencil. Then I have this weird reflex - I go to pick the trash up on the street like it's still my responsibility. Until I remember I don't have my work gloves on.

Next year, if not sooner, my yes will be an easy one.

Do you have a favorite volunteer job or one you resisted and then liked? Did you participate in the coastal clean up on Saturday?


Andree said...

Check this out....very sad. Thanks for your efforts!

Kelly said...

I go to pick the trash up on the street like it's still my responsibility. -surely it is? its all our responsibility to pick it up whenever we see it? Just some do and some dont.

Kelly said...

ohm i forgot your question. Im ALWAYS surprised at how much fun i have when i push myself outside my comfort zone. I always use this as a reminder when i think about saying 'no', whatever the event to hand may be.

kale for sale said...

Andree - You're right. It is sad. And underlines why the clean up was international or at least needs to be. Thanks for passing the article on.

Kelly - It's funny because it never felt like picking up trash was my responsibility in the same way before though. Volunteering to do it ingrained it in a different way. Maybe if I volunteered to exercise somewhere I could ingrain that. That would be good! I applaud your big always. I'm a sometimes and the other times I get two left feet.

Tamara said...

I loved your blog....we were out there too--with our mom/daughter group! Great day, and lots of fun.


The Pink Wig said...

Did you know that the bay area is negotiating with Humboldt County in Nevada to haul all their trash to a playa for the next 95 years. The good news is that they will place a "liner" down first. It will amount to a couple tons a week.
On the flip side.....
Once a month I pick up trash on my walk home from work. I grab a glove from work and fill my rather large trash bag within a half block. Am I making a difference? Am I stopping that one person who sees me from tossing something out the car window? I hope so.

kale for sale said...

Tamara - Somehow I knew you were out there. I thought of you and R so much. How perfect. Thank you for telling me.

The Pink Wig - I now consider this blog a complete success given that you have assumed the persona of The Pink Wig. You go girl!

And yes, it is upsetting that SF is shipping its trash to Nevada especially given all the city does to promote recycling and composting. I wonder where they ship it to currently.

Thank you for saying you pick up trash on your walk home. I'd never considered it before but why not. I'm going to invite the cute guy on a trash pick up walk. He'll love it. Don't you think?