Thursday, July 15, 2010

Collection Report July 6-7, 2010

(Broke this one into two days, coz 7/6 pinged the mercury at 82 degrees before 7:30AM.)

Bay View public beach, Saco, Maine, following the fabled 4th of July weekend. And a sweltering one at that. The aftermath was going to be interesting, for sure.

First, new sign on the lifeguard station:
A new one-week record for cigarette butts from zone N suggests otherwise. But if you get lemons, make lemonade. This week's "bounty" got me thinking of a new way to look at cig waste. I started separating out filters that looked ocean-borne (paper wrapper missing, bleached/washed filter). It may be possible to tease out a bit more of the story from these little pockets of poison. (Yes, appearances can deceive, which is why I'm already noodling ways to test whether a filter has been immersed in seawater.)

All told, predictable remains from a busy week. Zone N, July 6:
304 finds in total:
  • Building materials: 2
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 12
  • Fishing misc: 3 (1 rope, two fairly fresh claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 59
  • Food-related metal/glass: 8
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 41 (inc., 2 Trojan wrappers and 1 photographed but uncollected Trojan... gack; untossed bag of dog poop... gack; yellow hair roller, pail handle, 3 bandaids, 2 small pieces of broken vinyl from a lobster trap cage, Blistex tube, Home Depot price tag for a sling chair -- $19.98!)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 121 (112 local cigs, 8 likely ocean-borne, 1 wrapper)
  • Paper/wood: 25 (inc. Subway sandwich wrapper, Slush Puppie cup, Earl & Wilson beach towel tag, beach hut instructions, Skimboard user guide, AutoZone receipt, matchbox)
  • Misc./unique: 33 (23 firework pieces, one boy's jersey, one flipflop, one toddler "water shoe," one black sock, one white sock, one piece of rubber sole, 3 plastic tie-bands, 1 kite string/handle)
Zone S (July 7) was, as usual, much cleaner, and in many ways much more interesting.
48 finds:
  • Building materials: 5
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 1
  • Fishing misc.: 1 (rubber lobster trap bumper)
  • Food-related plastics: 3
  • Food-related metals/glass: 3
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 7
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 25 (17 local cigs, 7 likely ocean-borne, 1 wrapper)
  • Paper/wood: 2
  • Misc./unique: 1 (piece of firework)
Again, less foot traffic = less disturbance. Stuff that washes in doesn't move around as much as at zone N. It's still got its context. I managed to find many pieces lying at high-tide line right where the sea had last dumped them:
What does ocean-tumbled plastic and cigarette waste look like? Just like these things. Context!

So, the celebration of our nation's founding brought extra waste and litter to a beautiful beach. But it also brought more opportunities to learn. Which is, after all, the point.

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