Beach Cleanups Phase Out Plastic Bag Usage

October 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Protecting Habitats

by Nichole Richez

Many clean up organizations are setting wonderful examples and really getting with the program by considering their contribution to the planet’s pollution and waste problem in the materials they use for cleanups. San Diego’s Surfrider Foundation Chapter has posted on their site a new policy for cleanups (from http://www.surfridersd.org/beachcleanups.php):

PLASTIC BAGS PHASED OUT AT BEACH CLEANUPS. In an effort to send less extra stuff to the landfill we are asking that beach cleanup volunteers bring their own reusable bucket, reusable bag or a bag(s) from home that you would throw out anyway. Also, please bring work or garden gloves to use rather then then latex/disposable ones if possible. We will continue to have gloves and a small supply of bags on hand until we can fully get the word out and look to provide reusable supplies in the future.

To help out at an already coordinated cleanup, all you have to do is show up. For all beach cleanups, please wear comfortable clothes, closed toed shoes and sunscreen. Bring gardening or work gloves if you have them. If not, we would be happy to provide you with latex gloves if needed. We also provide the bags, hand sanitizer and other essentials for cleaning up trash. (Feel free to bring you own reusable bag, used bag or bucket to help limit what ends up at the garbage dump.)

While this may seem like a no brainer for some of us purists, most cleanup efforts involve using plastic bags, latex gloves, bottled water for refreshment, among other now becoming-taboo polluting products. One might have noticed this on TV watching the BP oil spill cleanup efforts in the gulf: teams of volunteers scooping up tarball-tainted sand into very large clear plastic bags, which could only hold a small amount and be easily carried. So after a few scoops, bam!, time for a new one. I couldn’t help but ask how much pertroleum was being wasted by the use of so much plastics during cleanup and that maybe there was a better solution given the scope and breadth of this disaster.

So, evidently others are getting the idea. The California Coastal Commission’s Coastal Clean Up Day advertised “BYO for CCD” and fruther stated on their website (http://www.coastal.ca.gov/publiced/ccd/ccd28.html):

For example, in 2009, Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers used more than 130,000 plastic bags and 135,000 plastic gloves during Coastal Cleanup Day. Countless cleanup sites held barbeques, lunches or snacks for volunteers, and many of these generated additional packaging and food-related waste. Thousands of volunteers drove cars to their cleanup sites around the state.

The Coastal Commission is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of Coastal Cleanup Day, but we need your help to do so! Please join our efforts this year by turning out to the Cleanup with a “Bring Your Own” philosophy.

The Kailua Beach Clean Up Day (http://plasticfreekailua.blogspot.com/) further stated that their event was “followed by a low-impact potluck.” Taking the green and sustainability movement all the way is the way to go, in our daily life, in our activism and clean up efforts and in the actions of our organizations. Kudos to those pushing forward the next step in our evolution of responsible living.