Thursday, May 19, 2011

Plastic--Mandy's story

During Plastics Awareness month, PTMSC has decided to share inspirational stories about plastics instead of the usual 'doom and gloom.' Mandy is one of our volunteers and has offered to be a guest blogger. Enjoy her story!

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"Somehow a stretch of beach, about a half of a mile long, managed to take hold of me this winter. Without intending to, I became its steward.

It started, quite literally, on a dark and stormy night. A Northwesterly bellowed in, producing gales with rollers uncommonly large for the 5-mile fetch behind them. A number of boats on moorings--which had sat in their anchorage unaffected by countless other passing storms--dragged or broke free. They stopped their all-night migration when they hit the concrete breakwater of a marina to the south. With no place left to go, the boats pounded into concrete and into each other until a few eventually broke into pieces and sank. The next day, working in treacherous and still confused waters, the Coast Guard arrived to survey damage. Vessel Assist towed still-floating boats off of one another and hauled them north for immediate haul-out and repairs. For a week, divers came to lift sunken boat parts and engines and towed them away. Chunks of boat of various sizes, along with their contents, began washing ashore. Every high tide brought an assortment of ropes, foam, plastic bags, blankets, tarps, DVDs, cassette tapes, zipper bags, zip ties, and other non-biodegradable relics.

Originally, I saw this arriving junk as a one-time event caused by an unusually destructive storm. My mind traveled to images of birds and animals ingesting plastics http://www.hawaiianatolls.org/research/June2006/albatross_death.php and tangling themselves in ropes, and I took it upon myself to clean the beach. The storm, I reasoned, was the cause of the persistent mess.
Weeks passed, until finally one day I declared that I was "done." The beach was clean of all the chaos of the storm. It wasn't until the next day, and the next, and the next that I really saw the problem. I wasn't done. I would never be done. There was always more trash coming ashore. The new trash wasn't the the muddy, sunken boat trash, but shiny and mostly clean trash that hadn't faded from sunlight and didn't have barnacles growing on it.

By this time, the beach and I developed a relationship. I would come and take away the trash regularly, and it would teach me the impact of human action, or human inaction, depending on my viewpoint of the day. My thoughts centered on what I found the most of: non-biodegradable single-use plastics.

My mind got caught in a downward spiraling loop of questions. How could we, as a culture, care so little? How could we be doing this to our own planet? Where will an intervention to this problem come from?"


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Thank You Mandy for being a guestblogger during Plastics Month, you truly have an inspirational story!

Do you have an inspirational story about Plastics? Share it with us in the comments section or on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Port-Townsend-Marine-Science-Center/64955379712

Next Plastic Events:
Wednesday May 25th- A movie showing of 'Bag-it;' a short documentary about one man's journey with the plastic in his life. Join us for the movie and a short discussion afterwards in the Natural History Exhibit located at Fort Worden State Park, (6-8PM).

Wednesday June 8th- World Ocean's Day. Celebrate this beautiful day by helping with a beach clean-up at Fort Worden State Park. Volunteers are meeting at 10AM out on the marine exhibit pier.

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