Sunday, September 26, 2010

Boots & Bras

Forty-five minutes of walking on the beach will yield a bucketful of either trash or treasure. On Tuesday you may stumble across a left shoe (usually the wrong size), and on Wednesday wonder at the slightly sandy and very salty brassiere that catches on a toe when eyes are focused on other than the sand. On those pristine beaches where we see few or small numbers of people, the bits and pieces are more often than not something natural and organic to the area, but it just may be that such unblemished beaches are more and more a product of Hollywood fantasy. The ugly footprint of humanity is fast becoming the dominant signature on white sand everywhere.

I live on what anyone would describe as a clean and beautiful stretch of white sand beach, a long shimmering ribbon of foaming surf, sea turtles, countless birds and seashells—a national park under the protection of not just county and state, but federal government as well. It is monitored daily by the Beach Patrol, marine biologists and trash collectors as well. Each day that I walk on the beach I encounter all three. My point is, the beach is not left to itself, but is patrolled and well looked after.

Unfortunately, it would take more personnel than is possible to keep it all looking like a retouched postcard or vacation brochure. The thing is, a large number of people are either careless or uncaring during their time at the beach. No, certainly not everyone, and thankfully not anywhere near a majority. But you might be surprised at what a weekend crowd can do to soil a beach. Technology being what it is today, most of the litter is in the form of non-biodegradable materials—plastic bottles, caps, bags, Styrofoam, twine and cigarette butts. One of the regular trash collectors explained that the largest amount of litter is in the form of plastic bottle caps, and the labels, also plastic, on water and soft drink bottles. It’s my guess that from his elevated seat on the dune buggy he drives, he either misses or ignores the ever-present cigarette butts. No question in my mind that butts are the most prevalent form of litter, on either beach or street. I’ve yet to see here in the US the little device that is growing in popularity in Japan. It is a small, lightweight, fireproof pocket-sized butt case for use on streets and in parks, and helps to keep public areas free of discarded cigarette butts. No reason this handy little item couldn’t be used on beaches as well as streets and parks.

Might not be a bad idea to strive toward lessening the human footprint everywhere, beaches or otherwise.

The photos…

Top photo is an example of the natural beauty that can be found on a thirty minute beach walk; bottom photo is also the fruit of thirty minutes collecting on even a ‘clean’ beach.

1 comment:

  1. My mother had one of those containers you mention. It was about 1 & 1/2 inches square and about 3/4 inch deep. Gold metal with a pretty ceramic inset. Pocket Butler? Something like that. It was in the 1970's that she had it.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America