I’ve been meeting just the trashiest people in the last couple of weeks. Um… trashy in a good way.
I met Sara Bayles after the Blogger Beach Cleanup on October 24. You know, the one I missed. Sara’s blog, The Daily Ocean, tracks her goal of collecting trash on the beach in Santa Monica, CA for 365 days. She’s currently completed Day 72 and already collected 336.13 pounds of trash ALL BY HERSELF. And get this: she only collects trash for 20 minutes each day. That’s a lot to collect in a very short amount of time.
Sara is a ceramics teacher and told me that while always wanted to participate in an organized beach cleanup, she routinely found herself working and was never able to make it to one of them. So when she moved close to the beach this February, she took it upon herself to create her own beach cleanup program and invite others in the community to join her. So far, the community has collected an additional 107 pounds of trash.
Not surprisingly, Sara says that 80% of the trash she picks up is plastic. And recently, during a Yoga retreat in the Yucatan Peninsula, she and some friends went on a walk down the beach and came back with 20 pounds of plastic. So Sara was psyched to find out about the Plastic Pollution Coalition and has been trying to find new and creative ways to deal with this growing problem.
I met Karen Hawes at an event at Plastiki Mission Control in San Francisco. Her web site, Trash Trip, chronicles her journey south from Alaska to Argentina, during which she’s visiting as many waste sites as possible along the way. She tours landfills, recycling centers, compost facilities, and even went out to the Pacific Garbage Patch (the North Pacific Gyre) with the crew of Project Kaisei in August to see for herself the ocean of plastic waste that we have created.
Karen told me one of her most memorable experiences was picking up a hitch hiker (something she never does) in the Yukon and discovering that he was actually worked for a landfill site in France, so she was able to interview him all about waste management practices in his country.
She’s also learned some surprising and alarming facts. For instance, did you know that
Kauai O’ahu, HI just began shipping its garbage to Washington State this year? Our waste facilities are filling up. And there are huge economic and environmental costs involved in shipping our trash. Plastic is the #1 issue for many landfills. We have to find ways to cut our waste at the source rather than dealing with the mess after the fact. In Karen’s words, “we can’t shit in our own nest” anymore.
Bridget McCracken was also at the Plastiki event last month. She and her sister Jessica created the Trash Mashup after school program in San Francisco’s Western Addition to teach kids about trash and to help them find ways to reuse materials that would have otherwise been wasted. Trash Mashup participants use the materials to construct “Maskostumes” which are original pageant masks and costumes inspired by traditions from around the world. This project reduces waste and inspires people to see each other and our environment in a new way. Once a year, the Trash Mashup participants perform in a community pageant that celebrates art, music, and fabulous costumes.
Trash Mashup will be at the San Francisco Green Festival this weekend every day from 12pm to 2pm in the Kids Area. I’ll be there too, and am looking forward to seeing what the kids are creating.
What other creative ideas have you seen for bringing public awareness to issues of plastic and waste in our environment?