found on the beach

by Kaylah Stroup

beach plastic, rainbow trash, lake erie, wendy park

This is a little bit different than my normal found on the beach arrangements. There weren’t too many large items on the beach to be picked up. Woo! The city does a decent job of keeping larger debris off the beach during the warm months. They use a backhoe to push everything to one end where they then scoop it all into a huge dumpster (…that lives on the beach.) It’s better than nothing, and it definitely makes the beach look a lot nicer.

Even with the big pieces of trash gone, tiny pieces of plastic will always be a problem. It mixes in the with sand and is essentially impossible to clean up. Approximately 60 billion pounds of nurdles are manufactured in the US each year. (How many nurdles in a pound? 25,000!!!) Nurdles are small plastic pellets that make nearly all of our plastic products. Accidental spills, and deliberate dumping mean that tons of them end up in the water, on our shores, and in the bellies of marine animals. This isn’t just Lake Erie, it’s everywhere!

nurdles, beach trash, beach plastic, rainbow trash, lake erie, wendy park

You can regularly spot lots of nurdles in my beach photos. Lots of whats in the photos in this post is just random pieces of plastic that have broken off of other things but if you look closely in the yellow and orange section you’ll spot lots of them. Tan ones, which don’t work so well in my little rainbow arrangement, pose the biggest threat since they look a lot like plankton to animals. Its a HUGE issue thats only getting worse as we rely more and more on one-time use items.

I’m not telling you this because I’ve quit using plastic and want to make you feel guilty. I’m just as much to blame as everyone else. I didn’t start picking up trash on the beach because I wanted to help the environment. I started because I like arranging things, and finding “treasure”. The beach just ended up being a great place for me to find things to photograph. I feel a bit guilty when anyone pats me on the back for helping clean the beaches because I know deep down picking up plastic army men and other interesting items doesn’t really help much of anything.

beach plastic, rainbow trash, lake erie, wendy park, flotsam army

The amount of time I’ve spent on the beach, seeing what a mess we humans are making of it, has definitely made me stop to think about what I can do to help. I could go on and on listing off shocking statistics but honestly, I don’t think anything will effect you that way that seeing it in person would. I encourage you to get out and check out your local beaches. Start by familiarizing yourself with the issue… and maybe try using a reusable shopping bag. We’ve made a huge mess but if we all pitch in we can help clean it up before its too late.

Check out more ‘found on the beach” posts here!
If you’d like to read more about nurdles check out some of these links from across the internet – plastic pollution: nurdles, this incredibly informative video (highly recommended) and this article on the BBC.

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