While the fleet enjoys prime sailing conditions offshore of Block Island, a small band of volunteers are taking care of the dust bunnies under the sofa ashore. In an effort produced and led by Clean Ocean Access Founder & Executive Director Dave McLaughlin, several of us spent a couple of hours picking up trash from the shoreline at Andy’s Way beach at the north end of the Great Salt Pond.
As part of the ongoing sustainability initiatives that this year’s Race Week is undertaking spending some time cleaning the edges of our playground, what others call the sea is a key ingredient.
It is remarkable just how mush detritus makes its way into the ocean and washes up on the shoreline. A sampling: Cigarette butts, degraded plastic bags, coffee cups, construction refuse, plastic strapping, as from a shipping pallet, drinking cups, single use water bottles, bottle caps and drinking straws.
All this was recorded by type of material and size on a check sheet prepared for the purpose by McLaughlin. This in turn is collated into data that can be sorted by any query and which he uses to impress upon the public, policy makers and funders the amount of debris in the ocean and the impact it has on our environment.
In one section, three people walked one way picking up rubbish, turned around and walked back over the same 40-yard section of beach and found almost the same amount of rubbish that they had missed on the first pass.
Cleaning the beach has the same feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment as say washing the car or cleaning the house. The end results are a great deal more important to us as sailors though.