The weather is getting warmer, and people are getting more and more stir crazy. Beaches are starting to open back up to the public. I cannot tell you whether or not it is a good idea to go to the beach, but if you do, I would ask you to do a small favor for me: please bring a small bag or trash bag with you and collect some trash.
Beaches have always been an unfortunate dumping ground for trash, whether it is intentional or not. People can be careless and forgetful, leaving behind their plastic bottles and food wrappers. Sometimes the wind will carry off someone’s trash before they had a chance to throw it away. And sometimes trash will blow onto the beach from the surrounding communities.
However the trash gets there, it does not belong on the beach. Once it gets on the beach it will more than likely get into the water and travel more distance on the waves than any sailor in their lifetime. Or the trash will sink beneath the waves and end up in the stomachs of whales, dolphins, or large fish, never to be digested and slowly starving the animal as it builds in their stomachs.
It’s a harsh thing to say, but it is a reality that keeps occurring.
So what can you do to help?
Bring a trash bag or even a small plastic or paper bag with you whenever you go to the beach. Make sure you collect your own trash in those bags, pin them down with your beach bag or shoes so the wind doesn’t derail your efforts, and take the trash with you when you leave. You can dispose of the bag in a trash can provided by the city, if it’s overflowing with trash then you can dispose your trash at home.
If you’re feeling up to it, you can collect the trash on the beach that is not yours as well. Whenever I walk a beach, I make sure to bring a small bag with me, picking up trash as I go along. Not everyone is comfortable with this for one reason or another. So please do what makes you comfortable.
The easiest thing is to make sure all the items you brought to the beach come home with you, especially sandals and toys that may get left behind. If you want to do more, fantastic! You can use gloves to pick up trash if you don’t want to touch it yourself, or even tongs or something of the like.
I know it may seem embarrassing to collect trash in front of other people, but think about it. If five people see you pick up trash, then it might inspire one of them to start doing it too. And then that could encourage two more people to pick up trash, and so on, creating a domino effect that for once has a positive impact on the environment instead of a negative one.
But it’s all about comfort.
So let’s say you’re only comfortable collecting your own trash, but still five people see you do that. Then one of those five thinks it’s a good idea and now there are two people making sure they keep their trash off the beach. Then you guys tell your friends, and other people see you too, and now there are ten people cleaning up after themselves and telling their friends about it. Again, it’ll help create a cascading event that will lead to the majority of people practicing good behavior on the beach and cleaning up their own trash.
All it takes is one brave person to inspire a movement that will influence a society, even if it seems like a simple, small act.
Whether you choose to pick up only your own trash or cleaning up all the trash you can see, you are making an important impact. That’s one less bag of trash that may end up in a whale’s stomach, never to be digested. And if you never go to the beach, talk to all the people you know who do and convince them to help keep the beaches clean.
Never forget that you are important. Never forget that your decisions and your actions can help change the environment around you.