Monday, February 2, 2015
Non Plastic Cleanup
It was very important to me when I created and started Sarasota Ocean Preservers, that the cleanups did not contribute to the problem of single use plastic. For years, I have been using reusable bags to pick up trash that I found on the beach and I really like the mesh design that my reusable bags have. Mesh is the best option because it lets the sand and water move out so it will not get too heavy too fast, and you can bring them on kayaks or underwater without them absorbing water like canvas or cloth bags would. Mesh bags are better than disposable bags because they can be reused over and over again without any damage to the bag, they can hold pointed objects without tearing, and since they are reusable, there is less chance that they will end up in the ocean and harm the ecosystem. The down side of mesh bags is that sometimes the smaller bags will get cut if a sharp object is placed in it, however they can be easily repaired with a needle and thread. Another downside of mesh bags is that sometimes they have to be cleaned, which is not too hard most of the time. They usually just need a quick rinse, but I will run them in the washing machine after group cleanups. One of the many problems of plastic bags is that plastic never really goes away. One of my favorite movies, Bag It, is a documentary which explains the problem of single use plastic very well (http://www.bagitmovie.com). Thanks to a mini-grant from the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, I was able to purchase enough reusable bags for group cleanups. Even after a full year of use, the bags continue to function well.I have two sizes of bags, one with large mesh for trash items that will be thrown away, and ones with small mesh for items that can be reused, repurposed, or if they can slip through the bigger mesh bags. Recyclables can either be carried in with the trash and be sorted out later, or they can be placed in a smaller mesh bag. Reusable gloves were also mostly provided for with the mini-grant (I bought some with my money too). It is recommended that participants use gloves when cleaning up because sometimes broken glass or even hypodermic needles are found during cleanups.