Beach finds

What do you bring home from the beach?

Driftwood is lovely to sit on at the beach, but it isn’t something I haul home to install in my living spaces.

My marine decor items are smaller.

a matched set of rocks

some antique bottles found while scuba diving,

a bronze compass rose, the points of which are bent due to my kids having found it at the height of the Ninja Turtle craze and used it as a throwing star.

I also have a few of these.

Not very decorative, you say? Well, I don’t keep them around long. This is a plastic disk used by mussel growers. They hang thousands of these on ropes that dangle in the water below their rafts. The mussels attach to the ropes.

As you might suspect, a few disks get away. They don’t float, but they do eventually turn up on beaches as part of the blight of beach plastic. I found this disk roughly twenty miles from this mussel farm.

Penn Cove Shellfish, famous for their tasty mussels, encourages those of us who find these disks to bring them back. They don’t like losing their disks and they don’t like adding to the tide of plastic garbage that washes up on beaches.

That’s the most plentiful of the beach finds. If it’s made of plastic it’s on a beach somewhere. On our little stretch of sand and barnacles I’ve found Styrofoam coolers, toy baseball bats, tarps, tangles of fishing line, the ubiquitous plastic grocery bags, fireworks, shotgun shells, hairbrushes and … water bottles.

Once upon a time I was the lone annoying, environmentalist nag whingeing on about plastic trash on the beach at family gatherings. Lately though the habit seems to have spread, with friends sending me links about plastic water bottles and one about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Two years ago I heard a scientist from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation give a talk about the North Pacific Gyre. At that point I quit buying water or any other beverage in plastic bottles and began the nagging previously mentioned. I have a nifty stainless steel water bottle that I haul to my soccer games, meetings and hiking trips. The positive impact of this life change was pretty slight though, as I was never much of a bottled drink buyer.

Far worse is my consumption of other products in plastic. Mustard, olive oil, motor oil, hand lotion, shampoo and conditioner, meat on Styro trays, it’s endless. I’d really like to stop buying things in plastic, but so far I can’t take a stainless steel container to my neighborhood store and fill it up with yogurt. Sometimes I do have the option of purchasing a brand that comes in glass instead and I do that often as I can.

So many times though there is no real option. I’m not wild about the idea of glass shampoo and conditioner bottles in my shower for instance. My options there are to buy gallon containers from the salon store (thereby reducing the number of bottles but probably not the total amount of plastic,) to try the baking soda shampoo method (let’s just say I’m skeptical,) or to buy shampoo and conditioner in bar form from Lush or some other plasti-phobe friendly company. That last seems worth a try.

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