Wednesday, January 19, 2011

There's No Art in this Garbage

There are times when the beach can make me rhapsodic. But this is not one of those times. This is no time for me to wax poetic. Even Thoreau would have problems finding transcendence here. The garbage has not gone away. No little men in blue suits have come in the past two days to police it up. If anything, the garbage has gotten worse since I last posted on Monday. Yesterday and again today, Alma and I took plastic grocery bags down there and picked up two bags each. We barely made a dent.

Seeing this garbage day after day gets to you. It gets under your skin. Sissyphus could have learned a thing or two at Venice Beach. The garbage goes on and on in an unbroken string for two miles. Alma and I are only two middle-aged people. I do find that it helps, when contemplating the magnitude of the task at hand, to break the beach up into small squares of sand, no more than 5 yards wide by 10 yards (from the high water mark down to the surf). I use my mind's eye to draw an imaginary line in the sand and pick up the multiple lines of detritus that the ocean has deposited within the grid square. Today it was taking me about 30 minutes to fill a plastic grocery bag within one of these grid squares. All in all, I would estimate that Alma and I cleared an area of beach about 10 by 10 yards today.

Although a few people have stopped to say "thank you" to us for our efforts, the majority studiously ignore us. We bring a few extra plastic grocery bags with us and, yesterday, a woman requested one. We gave her one and left her picking up some detritus while we walked to a different section of the beach. Today, a woman jogging by stopped to say 'thank you.' But otherwise, it's a pretty thankless effort and can make you really disgusted with the human race.

What we found yesterday and today: clear plastic bottles for water and soda, styrofoam (cups and plates and, strangely, packing peanuts), juice pouches and the mini straws that accompany them, hard plastic cigarillo tips but, strangely, very few cigarette butts. Medical waste (syringes) and personal hygiene products (tampon applicators). Baby products (pacifiers and diapers). And used condoms. Things that enrage me: balloons (Happy Birthday and Quincenara) and motor oil bottles. Tennis balls -- enough to supply Wimbledon.

If you were thinking of donating to this blog via the PayPal link, now you have another reason to donate: to support our efforts to keep the beaches clean. We have only one planet to live on and we need to treat it with reverence. In keeping with my previous post on the donation link ("Money, It's a Drag"), Alma and I would prefer that anyone living in Southern California with access to the beaches spend some time picking up garbage. But if you live elsewhere, your donations will enable Alma and I to keep doing what we are doing a bit longer.

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