A couple weeks ago, my cousin asked if I wanted to join her on a beach clean-up with a local non-profit, Ocean Hour. I love the beach and trash on beaches pisses me off to no end. I was very happy to join her and get started with this non-profit.
Ocean Hour selects a local beach/water side park every week. They run from 9-10 every Saturday. The organization supplies what is needed for the clean-up like gloves, bags, and grabbers. They are completely volunteer based, so every Saturday they have anywhere from 0-20 people show up. Ocean Hour has a newsletter that is sent out to previous volunteers and will post on their website and social media what locations they will be at every Saturday.
I was so pumped to join in a few weeks ago. I am a beach soul. I have always, always loved the beach. The last time that I lived near the ocean, I would take Bear out a few times a week and we’d walk at least a mile, but honestly I would walk as far as I felt her little toddler legs could handle. We would look for sea shells and play in the waves little tide pools. It was fun to let the little fish that got caught in them nibble on our feet. It tickled! Bear loved the time and so did I. In the few years it was since I was away from the beach I have learned a lot more of what is better for our environment. I had always known the “Leave nothing but footprints” phrase when it comes to the beach. I had only recently heard the second part to the phrase which is “Take nothing but pictures”. It totally makes sense. The shells become the sand and there is an epidemic of our beaches eroding around the globe. What is the harm in taking a few shells? The beach isn’t going to need them? Who is going to notice?
I believe it was about 2 years ago during a family vacatiton to Hawaii, that it really sunk in the importance of the “take nothing by pictures” phrase meant. In Hawaii, it is very bad luck to take anything from island/beaches there. Not sand. Not shells. Not rocks. Nothing; well, I guess the typical tourist trap shops are a different story, go ahead buy the token vacay Hawaii shirt! It is ingrained in the very culture to protect the aina. Aina doesn’t mean just the beach. It means to respect and protect the environment around you. It is very common for those that do take something from the shores of Hawaii to send back whatever trinket they took. The Hawaiian post office every year receives a fair number of packages returned from those that took something and believe that bad luck followed them home.
Getting back to my day with Ocean Hour. We had a good time, my cousin and I walking along chatting and picking up other people’s trash. I have to say that I was both happy and disappointed to see that the site that we were at was surprisingly clean of too much rubbish. We must have found where the local sober fishermen between the two of us we had maybe 5 beer bottles/cans and yards of balled up fishing line. I found what would have been a pretty cool and sentimental switch blade. Only it was only half of the handle. It had the state seal of Nevada on it. It travelled pretty far to get here.
All up, I don’t think we got more than 30 pounds of trash. Good job to those fishermen and whomever else frequents that park. I will happily be joining in with Ocean Hour more on Saturdays where I can. I already do my part when I’m at the beach on my own or with the family and end up cleaning a bit where ever it is that I am. We are teaching our kids to leave only footprints and take only pictures, or memories. After all, when the little ones are grown will that shell mean anything to them? Not at all. It will disintegrate or find it’s way into the trash can at some point. They will remember the time we spent at the beach and the important lesson of keeping our environment clean for other’s to enjoy.