Monday, June 21, 2010

Baseline: Collection Report June 15/16-2010

Discovering Bay View brought a lot to the table: nearby beach; distinct high-traffic and quiet zones; no industrial disturbances. A real find and a great location for a budding beachcomber.

But location is only half the game. Clueing in about how & why debris ends up on a beach means knowing just what's there from week to week. (An obvious concept that still took me a couple months to learn.) So I resolved to pick up every last scrap of trash that I could find, each trip. A burden? For me, the scent of saltwater carried on the crisp morning air, and the rhythmic crashing of the ocean in my ears, is anything but.

So, last week I created my baseline. On 6/15 I scoured the quiet, "S" section of Bay View beach, picking up every piece of manmade debris I could find on the surface. Results:
53 finds:
  • Building materials: 6
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 14
  • Fishing rope: 3
  • Fishing misc.: 2 (inc. 1 claw band, lobster trap tag not associated with any trap found yet)
  • Food-related plastics: 5
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 11
  • Cigarette filters: 9
  • Unique: 3 (cardboard package; Y-shaped plastic... thing; "Sea Bass" fish fillet knife sheath)
No clue whether the plastic thingy is a toy, or a disposable tear-off cap to a bottle, or what. Thoughts?
The knife sheath was neat, given all the clamming and shoreline fishing that I've witnessed -- and given its age & wear. Otherwise, there was little that stuck out, except maybe the bits of broken red balloon. How many are released every year, to explode high in the sky and cascade to the ground who-knows-where?

 The next morning, 6/16, I hit the "N" section:
A true mother lode! 271 finds in all:
  • Building materials: 14
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 17
  • Fishing rope: 20
  • Fish misc/claw bands: 14 (inc. 8 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 33 (inc. 7 straws/stirrers, 2 forks, PB cracker wrapper, 5 bottle caps, 2 ringpops)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 44 (inc. Bubblemaker cap, Trojan wrapper, adult & kid bandids, ChapStick)
  • Cigarette filters: 95 (!)
  • Paper, identifiable: 10 (inc. dryclean tag, Whole Foods napkin, Hannaford coupon, Walmart receipt 5/26/10) 
  • Paper, unidentifiable: 17 (inc. 5 pieces of bonfire cardboard)
  • Misc./unique: 7 (flipflop, soda can, 2 can scraps, 2 wads of gum, pillowcase scrap)
And there we go. Two sections of a southern Maine beach, picked as clean as possible. Some eye-openers among the bags too. 104 cigarette filters total, that blew me away. The Walmart receipt was interesting -- it shows that even fragile paper withstands exposure to sun & storm for weeks at least. But what really gets me is the breadth of finds. It's not just the expected "beach" stuff. It's a full slice of life -- commerce, industry, retail, sex, household, food, bad habits, even a late-night bonfire or two. This little stretch of little-traveled shore is a snapshot of American life.

At any rate, now the fun can really begin. I left my "N" and "S" sections as trash-free as I could. I've got my baseline. This week I'll be going back. And I'm actually excited to see what's arrived in the interim.

How weird is that?

No comments:

Post a Comment