Friday, May 13, 2011

800 pieces of styrofoam

Let me introduce my new friend Shea. Last week, Shea and I spent a half- day collecting litter at Locust Beach, in Bellingham, Washington. We, and about 20 other people, attended an event called “Litter into Art,” which was organized by the RE Store and the North Sound Baykeeper. Our inspiration for the day was a local artist named Kuros Zahedi, who had lots of experience making art from trash. This was the finale of “plastics reduction month” in Bellingham.

I was impressed by how excited Shea was about picking up litter, by how many pieces of litter he found, and by how much he liked to talk. He quickly filled his plastic bucket, and several large plastic bags. At one point during the morning, he told me he’d already picked up over 700 pieces of litter. When he told me this news, I glanced down into my bucket, and realized he’d been working much harder than I had, and he was 8 years old. Ok, I confess, I mostly just look for disposable lighters and brightly colored fishing gear. Shea was picking up every single piece of litter he found.

In the middle of the afternoon, we sorted most of the litter into piles of similar colors, and by far, the biggest pile was white. The biggest pile was almost entirely styrofoam. When it was sorted, Kuros started to create the trash rainbow, and asked us to help him. At first, we tentatively added pieces of litter, and then it all came together pretty quickly. We sat on the beach eating snacks, admiring the litter rainbow, with the low tide, Lummi Island, and eagles standing on the mud in the distance.

After our respite, we picked up the trash for the second time, and loaded it into Herman, the RE Store box van. We drove out to the local transfer station, and dumped the trash on the ground, with all the other trash. It made us sad, leaving it there.

A week went by, and I kept thinking about Shea, and so I called him. I asked him some questions. He told me he’d picked up over 800 pieces of litter that day, and most of it was styrofoam. He also told me that the most unusual item he found that day was a steering wheel from a car, and that he wanted to clean up some more litter.

Thanks Shea, Madeline, Chris, Polly, Jason, Danne, Eleanor, Lynn, RDS, Surfrider, Moka Joe, and others who helped us that day. See you next time!

1 comment:

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