There are only two ways to clean the ocean of floating debris. The first and the most efficient method, by far, is to keep plastic and other undesirables out of the ocean to begin with. Stormwater filtration, drain traps, industrial booms in outfall areas… all of these and others can help keep the stuff from getting out into the wider world. Efficient recycling programs can help too, but the best way to keep the water clean is to not put the garbage in there in the first place.
Failing that (and we are most definitely failing that), the other way to clean the water is to clean the beach. As the waves carry the debris into shore and deposit it on the wrack line and above, we have an opportunity to get to that debris and collect it, before the next tide or storm waves carry it off once again. Once it’s off the beach and in the waste management system, it is no longer an aquatic threat.
Every month, the South Sound chapter of the Surfrider Foundation schedules a cleanup for a local beach. The second Saturday of each month, rain or shine, there are volunteers out walking the shore at Yowkwala Beach, the Tacoma Narrows, the Purdy Spit or some other shoreline, picking up the things that don’t belong and getting them off of the beach. This weekend, we were at Jack Hyde Park on the Tacoma waterfront… 14 people, 2 hours and 37 pounds of trash.
Next month? Check out the Surfrider Facebook page for details. See you there!