BEACH CLEAN-UPS MAKE A DIFFERENCE! By Andrea Jackson
BEACH CLEAN-UPS MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
By Andrea Jackson
Human-created solid material that has intentionally or unintentionally entered the waterways that washes up on our beaches is called beach litter or tidewrack. We have all seen it from plastic straws and old sunglasses to plastic containers of all shapes and sizes.
About 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually. Of those, 236,000 tons are microplastics – tiny pieces of broken-down plastic smaller than your little fingernail. The plastic that enters the ocean never goes away. It only gets smaller. On average, it takes a plastic water bottle 450 years to decompose completely.
All marine species, including sea turtles are affected by marine debris. Often time, plastics are mistaken for food and ingested resulting in loss of appetite, suffocation, or gastrointestinal blockage. Leatherback sea turtles, for example, mistake floating plastic bags for a jellyfish, one of their favorite foods. With plastic bags filling their tummies, these sea turtles have a false feeling of being full and often die of starvation.
To help tackle the beach litter problem the Sea Turtle Preservation Society has made a commitment to clean up shoreline as part of the Keep Brevard Beautiful (KBB) Adopt-a-Shore project. STPSwas one of the very first participants in the KBB Adopt-a-Shore Program in the early 1990’s with our original site being Coconut Point Beach and Park in the south part of Brevard County. In January 2015, Cherie Down Beach and Park in Cape Canaveral became our STPS-North site due to the interest of our membership in that part of the county.
Saturday morning beach cleanups have become important to the community. Volunteers include students from our area schools who come to earn community service hours — many with parents who stay and join the cleanup efforts. We also attract groups of workers from companies in the surrounding area –either for community goodwill or to enjoy off-time together at the beach for a worthy cause. Church groups, youth groups, and scout groups interested in community service join in as well to keep our beaches clean. All are welcome!!
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room” –the Dalai Lama
STPS beach clean-ups take place the Saturday after the 1st Thursday of every month from 8am to 10 am. Cleanup supplies are provided. We also participate in special cleanups like Trash Bash, Archie Carr Cleanup and the Annual Coastal Cleanup. Folks feel a real sense of accomplishment and an appreciation for the special opportunity to enjoy the wonder found on our beaches.
While we find the bottles and cans that are washed in by the tides, we mostly find plastic bits, foam bits, cigarette butts, fishing line, lumber, nets, plastic jugs and parts from boats. The weirdest find was in March 2005 when we found a new toilet (commode) on Coconut Point Beach after a very rough few days of high surf. The thought was that it came from a beach front house that had been destroyed in Satellite Beach during the previous September hurricanes of Frances and Jean.
The trash we use doesn’t magically go away. We need to start helping our beaches and marine life now. The following are ways you can help.
- Ditch the disposable lifestyle by investing in reusable cups, water bottles, reusable straws and bags for the store.
- Buy from bulk bins and avoid purchasing items with excess packaging.
- Use reusable items in your lunchbox and avoid things like plasticware, sandwich/snack bags and single-serve items.
- Say good-bye to balloons.
- Never litter. Always leave your spot at the beach better than you found it!
- Recycle properly
- Remember to lightly rinse all bottles and containers.
- You can turn in your Styrofoam for recycling at Publix as well as paper and plastic bags. Plastic bags do NOT go into your curbside recycling.
- JOIN Sea Turtle Preservation Society monthly beach cleanups!!
- The Saturday after the 1st Thursday of every month
- 8am to 10 am
- Cleanup supplies provided
The beach early Saturday morning is a wonderful place to start your weekend!
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