Last weekend, I joined the Island Park Business & Residential Chamber's Masone Beach Cleanup. The day was organized in partnership with Operation S.P.L.A.S.H. - a nonprofit organization based out of Freeport. All together, we were a group of about 35 concerned citizens, including parents, children, and professionals of all ages.
I couldn't help but overhear some of the children getting upset about the pollution, and commenting how the people who littered were "lazy," "mean," and "bad". Of course, children have to simplify the issue to such black-and-white terms, but it did make me start to wonder about littering, too.
Most of the trash we were finding were small pieces of plastic - bottle caps, juice boxes, plastic bags - that could have easily been accidentally dropped, swept off a boat, or missed the garbage can.
At the same time, they could very well have been intentionally dropped on the ground by someone who didn't give it a second thought. And really, it's not really until you're on a beach, looking at a stretch of tiny pieces of plastic washed along the shore, that you realize that each one of those pieces had to get there from some human action.
Whether it's carelessness, apathy, or accident, litter builds up quickly and can take centuries to degrade. The momentary, immediate convenience of a bottle of water or a plastic-wrapped snack has consequences well beyond its few minutes of use.
This beach cleanup really inspired me to take stock of all the packaging and plastic products I've been using, and try to be more diligent about carrying around reusable alternatives. Buying an aluminum water bottle that I really like encourages me to carry it around, and finding the right size reusable containers means that I use them much more frequently.
Owning just a few, smart reusable products that are beautiful and user-friendly helps to make avoiding trash an easy habit to have. And that means smaller landfills and cleaner waterways for Long Island.