This one’s for Beth…

Sickatating plastic crap on the beach

Sickatating plastic crap on the beach

I just had a beautiful day on Toronto Island, biking around, eating good food, flying my new rainbow kite, playing frisbee, and generally being as wholesome as it gets — but when I took a walk on the beach, there was so much plastic junk everywhere, I couldn’t help but feel a bit depressed (if only Beth at Fake Plastic Fish could see this… actually, if she did, she might have some sort of petroleum-induced seizure, so perhaps it’s better that she didn’t). Anyway, I wanted to start cleaning it up, but there was so much, it really would require an entire afternoon’s worth of labour, not to mention a few garbage bags and a pair of rubber gloves. For a second, I thought maybe I should wait for the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to roll around, so I could at least tackle the job with some other volunteers, but apparently this doesn’t start until September.

Ugh. Do any of you find your beaches horribly cluttered with garbage? Or is it just Toronto? What do you do when you see all of this junk? Start picking it up, or hope someone else does? And what do you find is most often tossed on your shores? Because while the plastic cups weren’t that surprising, I was somewhat taken aback at the giant Listerine bottle. Maybe these things were thrown in the water by careless drunken morons on their powerboats and the lake just barfed them up here.

Either way, I think I need a return visit for the sole purpose of once again fixing other people’s mistakes.

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22 Responses to This one’s for Beth…

  1. janeterin says:

    Boo, plastic! That makes me mad. I try to recycle it if I see it, but I wish people wouldn’t litter in the first place. Sigh!

  2. “Sickatating” must be some strange Canadian word, no?

    I totally get you. I used to make myself late for work picking up plastic trash all the way to the train station in the morning. I just couldn’t turn a blind eye. Finally, I reached a happy medium. I pick up plastic bags and bottle caps usually. I pick up other trash if it seems to be “calling out to me” that particular day. I do it for myself. Some days, I have no problem passing it by. Other days, I need to do it.

    Finally, we do what we can and then just let it go — for the sake of our sanity!

    Is is sickatating, huh?

  3. Doug Appeldoorn says:

    It is absolute crazy just how much plastic stuff is floating around in the waters of our world. The Pacific Ocean actually has a garbage gyre the size of Texas. There is a great online documentary “Toxic Garbage Island” posted about it here:

    http://www.vbs.tv/video.php?id=1485308505

    This is a global problem that can only be solved by reducing the amount of plastic we produce for consumer goods. We can clean up beaches every single year, but it won’t stop washing up until we as a global civilization reduce our plastic consumption and that is a very daunting task indeed. If everyone knew what plastic was doing to our planet they would think twice about using it.

  4. gettinggreen says:

    Beth, I think you have a healthy approach to litter-picking, for sure! And Doug, I have actually seen a couple documentaries on that scary Pacific Gyre – so depressing! But what I’m wondering is, on the average beach, how much garbage is there from people littering on the shoreline and how much of it is there because it’s been washed up from somewhere further out?

  5. This is surprising since it cannot be coming from the people residing on the island. Knowing many island residents they have been eco conscious way before the rest of us caught on. It’s the visitors. Keep in mind the first nice day after a long winter does reveal some horrible stuff. I see people in the city still drop garbage as they are walking or driving around the city. It takes all my willpower not to stop and say something.
    When I was growing up there was a huge campaign simply “DO NOT LITTER”. Maybe it is time for the government to get that slogan back in the public eye. By the way, Vanessa I am loving your book. Laughing out loud and finding out a few interesting little tidbits about you and your sidekick.

  6. Patsy Telpner says:

    sorry, last comment was from me, not Meghan. She was on my computer and remained logged in. So take note.

  7. gettinggreen says:

    Haha, thanks Patsy!! (That’s Meg’s mom, fellow readers) I agree… basic “don’t litter” campaigns are great… I just think the signs need to say something a little more severe, like “don’t litter, you moron!” Sorry.

  8. Count me in! I always notice that I never see empty jars of almond butter or plastic bags from rice cakes laying around. Just an observation.

  9. Just thought I’d mention I’m having a giveaway on Fake Plastic Fish for anyone who wants to take the Earth Day Less Plastic Challenge. This seems like a good place to plug it!

    http://www.fakeplasticfish.com/2009/04/earth-day-2009-less-plastic-pledge.html

    I’ll probably draw winners some time this coming week.

  10. stephen ottridge says:

    one time I was walking with my wife and a pair of friends on the beach in Seaside Oregon. We found some bags on the beach and started filling them up as we walked along. It was all from washed up rubbish from the Pacific ocean. Japan, Philipines etc.
    I stopped by a local radio station and pointed out how bad the beach was and the locals should do a cleanup. This must have been 12 years ago at least.

  11. Emma says:

    I wholeheartedly disagree and blame it on the island folk. I’d state why but a fight might break out via comments… They’re trouble let’s just leave it at that.

  12. brooklynlorax says:

    Government mandated biodegradable plastic. Reduce packaging when possible, but for the rest, just let it go away. Recycling is nearly always downcycling anyway.

  13. pat says:

    sickatating has distinct british roots.

    If you see it, pick it up;
    Then the day you’ll have good luck!

    (applies to pennies and garbage!)

  14. Plastic is a huge problem. It rarely is recycled and ends up in our landfills :(
    We sell glass water bottles on our website (www.livinglavidaverde.net/store.aspx) as an alternative to plastic. Whether you buy from us or another reusable water bottle, please stop using disposable plastic bottles!

  15. EcoYogini says:

    This totally sorta happened to us the other day! We were at the park and had just finished yoga, were walking back and some lady dropped A PLASTIC BAG on the ground. Just dropped it!!! WTF? I went over and picked it up and put it in my yoga bag- to be recycled. COME ON. Halifax has a mandated recycling and composting program that has weekly pick ups. EASY. sigh.
    also- biodegradable bags will take a long time to degrade in water… many need the sun’s rays to break down and well- guess water can inhibit this. Also, many need intense heat to break down. I like the glass and non-plastic idea :)

    Also- thanks for adding my blog to your blog roll!! :) Yay Canadian Eco-warriors :) WOOT

    Lisa

  16. Joseph says:

    We live right on the Delaware River in Riverton NJ.
    Everyday there are at least 2 and with a really high tide up to 10 plastic bottles washed onto our beach. All sorts of plastic from all sorts of things wash up twice a day. We have a net strung across the property to catch these things, the majority of the debris are in the middle of the River, where the current is the strongest, and eventually goes out to sea. Which is another story…

  17. Martin says:

    I think plastic litter is almost everywhere on this planet. When I lived in Canada there were often lots of trees and rocks for it to hide behind and under. The beaches of the world seem to be where our negligence is put on display.

  18. rachel says:

    Two words:
    Garbage strike.

    Usually there are beach cleanup crews and garbage cans that aren’t taped up… the whole city has become a dump and it feels like every effort to “greenify” Toronto is going to waste. No pun intended.

    Careful around the water too, due to the strike no one is testing it. Yuck.

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