Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Collection Report July 7-9, 2011

7:30AM, and another bright, sunny morning in Maine:
Plus, another fabled 4th of July weekend come and gone. What would the aftermath bring?

This day was a treat: I had with me the Portland Press Herald! Reporter Colleen Stewart and photographer Carl Walsh walked & talked with me for an hour and a half about what I do. They got to see some of the trash on the beach, as well as a big collection of the more "interesting" bits from my past year.

It was a good day to show them around, because most every step held evidence of what our modern world now leaves behind. Here's Zone N:
229 finds:
  • Building materials: 3 (2 asphalt, 1 brick)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 27
  • Fishing misc.: 18 (6 rope, 4 twine, 2 trap tags, 1 shotgun shell wadding, 5 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 32 (bottle, 7 bottle caps, 12 food wrappers, 6 straw wrappers, spoon, 3 straws, gum, "Royal Gala Organic" apple sticker)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 10 (can, 2 bottle caps, 3 glass scraps, 4 foil wrappers)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 34 (7 bag bits, lip balm, aspirin blister pack, 6 firecrackers, 4 beach furniture scraps, glowstick, strapping, sunglasses earpiece, 5 scraps >1", 7 scraps <1")
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 55 (53 filters, 2 bits of packaging)
  • Paper/wood: 47 (8 napkins, 23 misc scraps, 16 firework sticks)
  • Misc./unique: 3 (scrap of fabric, two flip-flops)
A big day. Nothing terribly unusual -- in fact, an impressively "normal" spread of what the beach on the 4th of July looks like in a small New England community. The only striking thing maybe being:
A bruised, sunburned Canadian lobster
trap tag, at the end of a many-year trek
Talking with Colleen & Carl was fantastic, and went on longer than I'd expected. I had to come back a couple days later to hit Zone S. I brought my daughter with me, and she played happily as she always does at the beach.
And here's what I (and Ruby -- she brought one of the asphalt chunks over with a huge grin) found:
61 finds:
  • Building materials: 6 (4 asphalt chunks, 2 fence slats)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 13
  • Fishing misc.: 7 (2 rope, 2 twine, 2 claw bands, buoy scrap)
  • Food-related plastics: 5 (bottle, snack package, bottle cap, straw, wrapper)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 1 (seaglass)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 11 (bag scrap, big melted glob, firecracker, 5 scraps >1", 3 scraps <1")
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 11
  • Paper/wood: 6
  • Misc./unique: 1 (fabric scrap)
A small haul, and again, little out of the ordinary. Easily the coolest & most bizarre find was the barnacle-encrusted plastic chunk:
What stories would this thing tell?
Another week down, 290 more pieces of debris added to the collection. Nothing game-changing, but a solid week full of bits & bobs washed up, blown in, and left behind.

Oh, and the Press Herald? They put The Flotsam Diaries on the front page July 11! I love what I do.


  1. That's a great article, Harry. Congratulations!

  2. Thanks! I was blown away, really love how she tied together my local work with the wider world. And the quotes are great. Really over the moon. :)