La Playa Plastica

Posted by Ken Campbell February 8, 2011 3 Comments 1074 views

Plastic and beaches don’t mix. Which isn’t news, exactly… plastic doesn’t mix with much at all, if you think about it.

I find myself drawn back to the issue, though I can’t tell you why. I think it’s that the ubiquitous petrochemical detritus that soils our coastline represents something so permanent, despite its often transitory purposes. The one-time use products: water bottles, candy wrappers, grocery bags… all meant for short useful lives and yet with the staying power to last for generations.

I read about a study that was done on an uninhabited atoll in the South Pacific, thousands of miles from civilization, outside the shipping lanes. When the sand and gravel of the beaches were sifted and separated, researchers found small, almost microscopic particles of polycarbons heavily distributed among the stuff that was supposed to be there. Even in the most primal locations on the planet, plastic is there, as an integral piece of the ecosystem, whether we like the notion or not. And it will never go away.

Unless somebody picks it up. Although I would probably volunteer for an extended stint on a remote island in the sun, picking through the beach and taking out the little invaders one by one, it’s not a job that would mesh with my current life. Perhaps in some alternate future, or some alternate past.

Thankfully, there is an opportunity closer to home. (Get your calendars out.) Washington Coastsavers is putting together another beach cleanup day this April, and it seems like a good way to spend Earth Day.

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