Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My First Beach Cleanup

Somehow, I reached the overcooked age of thirty without ever having cleaned a beach--unless, at some point, in grade school on a compulsory school trip I was prodded along the sand by a fascist, which is possible. But, I don't think that happened. I think, at the precise moment that I turned thirty, it could be said that I had left more trash on beaches, however accidentally (things blow away so quickly!), than I had removed from them.

In one painfully sunny stretch of mid afternoon--captured for posterity by a film crew and a photographer--I completely reversed this statistic and discovered that cleaning beaches is not a burdensome, back-pain inducing chore that robs one of the opportunity to surf empty waves (see photo below of RCW sponsored surfers suffering the distracting spectacle of shipwrecks reeling by unmolested). Instead, on every walk back from a surf session since the beach cleanup, I have gathered as much as I can carry and "chunked it"--to use the Liberian English term.

It's incredible and worrying how quickly trash re-accumulates. The bag I am holding below probably weighs fifty or sixty pounds. In the three weeks between the last cleanup and the one depicted here, well over fifteen bags of this garbage washed up on a stretch of beach that is less than a kilometer long. If we had been patient enough to pick through all the shredded, soft plastic that results from the pinches of oil, kerosene, salt, and everything else that are sold to inhabitants of the poverty line for a few pennies, we could have filled another fifteen--and if we rounded the corner towards town and the armada of fishing boats, ugh, I can't even estimate.

Even the day after the cleanup, a bag or more worth of new large filth pieces was on our small stretch of stewarded beach. Thinking about those giant swirling masses of ocean waste is super depressing. How many bags would that be and then where would we put them?

All photographs courtesy of Sean Brody.

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