Thursday, November 11, 2010

Collection Report Oct 28, 2010

Wow. I'm getting behind here. Not cool. Quick catchup from a bright and unseasonably warm October 28.
My kind of busy
The high-tide line was not hard to spot. A fairly lazy high tide following a cold but mostly forgettable week. (Though a good shower the day before had churned things up nicely.)
Tell-tale kelp line
My stroll this day brought some things small:
Easy to spot when your eye is in
Some things not so small:
Huggies or Pampers? I didn't look that closely
Some things that look like other things:
Bag scrap masquerades as withered seagrass
Some head-scratchers:
Cap to a diner table syrup bottle? Really?
And some things that magically washed up as I ambled along the shoreline on the way back to my car:
Leather shoe sole, tossing in the surf
All told, an interesting haul. Here's Zone N:
54 finds:
  • Building material: 3 (1 slat, 2 chunks of asphalt)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 12
  • Fishing misc.: 4 (lobster trap bumper, rope, shotgun shell wadding, claw band)
  • Food-related plastics: 5 (including label from a lemon)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 6
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 12 (inc. grocery store bag, bag scrap, toy beach rake/fork, 2 bits of netting, diaper)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 8 (1 local, 6 floaters, 1 plastic cigar end)
  • Paper/wood: 1
  • Misc./unique: 3 (woven plastic sack, packaging from a present, lonely heart note)
This collection included one of the more poignant bits I've found - a note written to "Dear Universe," from a lonely heart looking for Mr. Right. When I found it, it was melting away from the rain. I saved it and brought it back home, which felt right at the time. Now I'm not so sure. Was that note an intrusion on the beach? Or was my taking it home an intrusion on somebody's heartfelt wish? All I know is, I hope her dream comes true.

An annoying find was the label from a lemon.
*Paramount Citrus, CA Lemon, USA 4958
Plastic. How can it be that now even every piece of fresh fruit at the supermarket is graced with it? Enough already? Then again, it has been a neat mystery for the past couple weeks -- who brought a lemon to the beach in 40-degree late October, and why?

Moving on to Zone S:
39 finds:
  • Building material: 12 (5 fence slats, 1 thin post, 4 chunks of asphalt, 1 bit of brick, 1 bit burned painted wood)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 7 (inc. large chunk of buoy?)
  • Fishing misc.: 4 (3 bits of rope, 1 bit of lobster trap coating)
  • Food-related plastics: 0
  • Food-related metal/glass: 0
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 6 (inc. syrup bottle lid, caution tag)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 6 (2 local + 4 floaters)
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 4 (leather shoe sole, 3 pcs blue fabric)
The foot traffic of summer is gone; Zone N's numbers have stabilized well below the 200+ bits it had been giving. And it's interesting to see how Zones N & S now start looking so alike. Not surprising. But nice to see a hypothesis blossom: Yes, beachgoers leave a fearsome amount of trash; but the debris that fouls the coasts of southern Maine has a thousand fathers.

The other big thing to note is the recent collapse of cigarette debris. Of course there are fewer people on the beach, thus fewer smokers. But the ones that wash in at high-tide line with their paper worn off -- they're way down too. Why? Only one way to find out. Keep counting, and turn the page...


  1. I walked one mile to town and picked up all the trash I could carry in two large bags, but didn't quite make it the whole mile before filling them both.

    If I had stopped to pick up each cig butt I saw, I would still be walking that mile.

    Isn't there anything anybody can do to re-use or re-cycle the butts, so they can charge a 5 cent deposit, like for bottles???

  2. It really can get you down, I know!

    I like the idea of charging a deposit on cigarettes, more & more. I'm sure there's lots of hurdles to set a system up so that it's efficient & fraud-proof. And safe to handle for that matter. But what a great thing, to turn that trash into a resource.

    Thanks so much for taking your time to pick up other people's trash. Who knows, maybe someone saw you and they're now starting to think about the problem too.