Mission accomplished! I finally partook in my first beach clean up, and it was a success! I don’t think I could have asked for a more gorgeous day in NYC. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, it wasn’t hot or cold, but despite the beautiful weather, there was A LOT of trash to be picked up!
I arrived at Brooklyn Bridge Park at 1:00pm, which was low tide. There were many other friendly faces of individuals from all walks of life ready and eager to pitch in. Our leader, Sarah, provided us with large trash bags, gloves, tools for picking up the garbage, and waders (those funny looking waterproof pants held up with straps that have shoes attached) for those of us daring enough to venture out into the water. We were also supplied with clipboards and checklists, provided by the Ocean Conservancy, to document the items we collected. This data is crucial to the Conservancy to monitor not only how much trash is being collected, but also what kinds are more prevalent in what areas, and other trends.
At first glance, the beach looked fairly clean to me. However, once I really started looking around, I felt like I wasn’t traveling very far very fast because there were so many small things hidden in the rocks. It was kind of like looking at the stars. Once you look at one really hard, you notice so many more around it. Except, of course, this was trash.
The vast majority of what I picked consisted of cigarette butts and plastic items such as straws, water bottle caps, and pieces of food packaging. There were a lot of glass bottle caps as well. In addition, other cleaners found a tire, fishing net, plastic bags, glass, etc.
I concluded that if we can all just stop smoking and using plastic, the impact that these small changes would have on the environment would be astonishing.
I was very inspired to see how eager everyone was to help out. There was an immediate sense of community, and it was very enjoyable because everyone who was there sincerely wanted to be. Everyone was working hard to clean as much as they could, and by the number and size of trash bags that were piled at the end of the day, I was shocked at how much trash everyone collected! This was a great bonus to the wedding that crashed our clean up. I’m sure they were very thankful for the newly cleaned shore to have as a backdrop for their ceremony.
I left the beautiful Brooklyn Beach Park clean up with a warm fuzzy feeling (and no it wasn’t just a sunburn) because I had helped make a difference, even if it was very small in the grand scheme of things. Looking at the beach while packing up my belonging, I noticed a visible difference. It truly is amazing what we can all accomplish together! I encourage all of you to participate in a clean up. If you aren’t by a coast, clean up a park or marsh, or anywhere there may be trash, which should be very easy to find!
I was able to get some footage of the clean up, so stayed tuned for the video!
For more info, check out the Ocean Conservancy, or head to the Brooklyn Bridge Park's website. Here's a link to clean up sites in NYC too: http://www.alsnyc.org/