Keep it off Trash Island!

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Please enjoy this guest post by our friend Alexandra Ringe:

I spent this past week hunting plastic on the beach of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida. The Atlantic Ocean has its own version of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and I redirected as much plastic detritus as I could from the shore to, well, the landfill.

Wish you were here

I couldn’t stand the thought of walking by a plastic bag that would later drift out to the undulating mass of petroleum product sitting in the Sargasso Sea, maybe choking a bird along the way.

I could let you think that this is a new obsession of mine, this attention to the beach’s accumulation of straws, candy wrappers, kegger cups, and everything else we make out of plastic. But that would be wrong. I grew up in Ventnor, New Jersey, about 100 ft. from the boardwalk. Whenever we went to the beach, my mother picked up other people’s litter in addition to our own trash. “Leave it better than when you found it” — that was her response to our neighbors’ quizzical looks.

Although she talked to me and my siblings about the impact of human garbage on marine life, my mom was driven only in part by a concern for the environment. She applied the “Leave it better” principle at the movie theater and the rest-stop picnic table, too — she felt responsible for the experience of the next person to come along. Her approach expands on the hiker’s “pack it in, pack it out” credo — if you bring something into the woods, you are honor-bound to take it out again — in a way that works especially well for the beach.

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, FL

A good deal of the trash I encounter doesn’t belong to negligent beachgoers. It blows in from the streets, floats in from boats and ships, or is too small and light to be caught by the tractor-like beach-cleaning machines that skim litter from the sand. Thanks to my mom, I have always seen this vagabond trash as ours, something I need to help pick up. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It feels too good to keep that chunk of crumbling styrofoam out of the sea.

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3 Responses to “Keep it off Trash Island!”

  1. Barbara Saathoff Says:

    Kathy shared your blog on beach debris — we too are advocates of picking up litter whether it be at the beach, street, roadside, etc. As one man that made it his daily job said I do what I can!! Barbara

  2. Vernita N'Cognita Says:

    It’s the dawn of a new decade! The economy is in trouble & we still have too much garbage!Your art could be part of the solution!!! If you make art from things that would have been thrown away – broken stuff, old stuff, burned stuff, torn stuff transformed into art- 2D & 3D in any media rescued from trash, your art is eligible. It’s happening again! The exhibit “Art of Detritus: Recycling with Imagination” features fine art from cast-off materials created by professional artists from throughout the country. The heart of this exhibit is the message of the three R’s: Reduce/Reuse/Recycle. The 2010 Art From Detritus Exhibition is a juried international art competition for dynamic, inventive and provocative work created from a multitude of materials that would have been discarded if not rescued for artmaking. The exhibit will occur in spring 2010 at PureLight Gallery located in a recycled building in Turner’s Falls Massachusetts.This show will be curated by Vernita Nemec, artist/curator, former director of Artists Talk On Art & Viridian Artists in New York City and currently on the Board of Directors of Soho20 in Chelsea NYC. She conceived the first Detritus Exhibition in 1993 & over the years has received funding from The Puffin Foundation, the Kaufmann Foundation and the National Recycling Coalition. Since then, there have been more than a dozen Detritus exhibitions through out the U.S. You can see images of and information on past Detritus shows at http://www.ncognita.com.Submit your best work now! Email 3-6 jpegs of work no larger than 500 dpi in either direction. Include in your email an Artwork List with size, materials used, title & date, plus an artist bio & statement. Submit by April 1, 2010 to: ncognita@earthfire.orgThere is no submission fee, but accepted artists will make a small contribute towards the exhibition expenses.

  3. Sharon Huff Says:

    Way to go Alexandra. Your mother was right. Until people learn to respect the environment and their surrounds, it is up to those of us who notice to leave it better than we found it. Thanks for making the planet a better place, day by day. I am especially happy that it was my local beach you were helping to be clean and green. Thanks 🙂

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