Island beaches require our constant efforts
Some 60 dedicated souls turned out on the beautiful morning to make a clean sweep of our island. They bagged nearly two tons of trash and our beaches certainly look much better for their efforts.
My wife and I spent about two and a half hours on Saturday helping fellow islanders collect trash at Sheffield Cove. We gathered enough refuse to fill the bed on my pickup truck twice. Our trash haul included giant pieces of Styrofoam, dock timbers, broken boat parts, and fish netting. That was the big stuff.
The little stuff that littered the marsh alongside the cove was mostly plastic trash. Plastic water bottles, plastic cups, plastic bags big and small, plastic junk food sacks, plastic drink containers, plastic detergent bottles, and plastic packaging. There was shredded plastic and bits of plastic. It would have taken 50 people several hours to collect all the plastic trash that litters the cove. We just got the big stuff. There's lots of smaller stuff still there. Feel free to pick up some of it when you have a spare moment.
Do you know that all that plastic we purchase is helping drive up the cost of oil? Yes, plastic is petroleumbased. In 2006, the U.S. produced nearly 15 billion gallons of bottled water. That required 900,000 tons of plastic which was manufactured with 17.6 million barrels of oil. That's enough oil to run 1.5 million cars on our roads for one year - just for plastic water bottles. Think about that the next time you buy something that comes in plastic. If you must buy plastic, at least make the effort to recycle. Be a smart, eco-wise consumer. Your planet and your pocketbook will thank you.
On Saturday, we found disappointment at Fort Getty. We drove through the park to collect trash that volunteers had bagged. On the concrete siding, where the boats are parked in the summer, we found a pile of kitchen cabinet doors and chopped sections of door frames. Obviously, someone had found it easier to dump their construction trash at Fort Getty rather than take it to the transfer station. That person should be sentenced to a month of picking up trash.
We were feeling pretty good about helping clean up our island when, on Sunday, we walked along the town beach at East Ferry. There had been a couple of tides since Saturday's cleanup. Already the beach was freshly littered with plastic bottles and plastic packaging that had washed ashore overnight.
It's clear that we must be vigilant to keep our beaches clean. Picking up the trash is a year-round requirement. You can make the job easier by making sure your trash is put where it belongs.
- Jeff McDonough