Friday, September 25, 2009

The 1st Robertsport Community Beach Cleanup

Photos courtesy of Myles Estey.

On Saturday, 12 September, about 30 community members and expatriates met under the cotton tree at the Robertsport Community Campsite to participate in the first Robertsport Community Beach Cleanup. September's cleanup was part of the Ocean Conservancy's 24th International Coastal Cleanup -- the largest volunteer event in the world with over 400,000 volunteers in over 100 countries. The event raises awareness about the importance of clean beaches, oceans and waterways to human and environmental health.

Our goal was to collect plastic and marine debris from Fisherman's Point to Shipwrecks -- the main stretch of tourist and surfing beach. We gathered around 9 AM and by 10 AM had divided into teams lead by community members and RCW-sponsored surfers Alfred Lomax and Benjamin McCrumuda.
Each volunteer had a pair of thick leather work gloves and a rice bag to collect the trash, but the bags soon filled up and people began dumping the trash into a large pile at the campsite so that they could reuse their bags. This created a logistical challenge at the end, because we needed the trash in back in the rice bags to transport it to the dump, but it did create an impressive looking pile of plastic. We're scaling up our supplies for next month's cleanup and expect more volunteers as well.
We collected 28 rice bags in less than 2 hours -- over 500 pounds of trash. There were a large number of single-use plastic bags that, judging by the newish looking state they washed up in, are from around the Robertsport area. There was also a sizeable amount of older plastics that had broken and decomposed in the water. With the help of a marine biologist who is kindly guiding us, we're collecting data on the types and amount of marine debris collected -- data that will help us form intervention programs to reduce, reuse and recycle local waste in the future.

Every second Saturday around 10:00 am we'll be leading similar cleanups, so please join us or show your support by buying a $10 Cotton Tree t-shirt -- all the proceeds go to our environmental projects. Email me to get involved or pick up a shirt!

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