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  • Helena Kyle

Beachcombing For Litter

Value of Volunteering Series: Beach-combing For Litter

Previously Published in the Pineapple Post

By Helena Kyle

Ah, summertime, and the weather is fine! Whether you are visiting, live here year-round, spend most of your time indoors, or outdoors, a volunteer opportunity beckons.

The word, volunteer, might bring groups or organizations to mind. The Treasure Coast hosts a myriad of organizations in need of volunteers, that I will spotlight throughout the next several months, but this month, I am focusing on volunteer opportunities outside of organizations.

In a previous Pineapple Post article, The Value of Volunteering, I mentioned that one of the benefits of volunteering is the positive ripple effect. I pondered the upside and downside to ripple effect, due to an experience at a park near the ocean inlet. While walking the pier, I saw a great blue heron perched upon the pier railing. The bird stayed put, allowing me to come surprisingly close, close enough to notice a rusty fish hook piercing his feathers, near a wing; the hook was attached to a strand of fishing line approximately 7 inches long. The disheartening glimpse of the fish-hook snagged on that beautiful bird reminded me of how the positive ripple effect from volunteering affects our environment.

The first summer, after moving to the Treasure Coast, my husband and I walked along the ocean’s edge of Hobe Sound Beach, I had anticipated beach-combing for seashells, but instead, we filled our small bag with litter. We filled our 2 spare dog-doo bags as well; our ocean-phobic, “canine baby” stayed home. The beach was strewn with litter as far as the eye could see: plastic bottle caps, bottles, picnic utensils, broken chunks of plastic from buckets and just about anything made of plastic, party balloons, cigarette butts, deteriorating shoes and flip-flops of various sizes, rope, and swaths of netting. The litter was enmeshed in seaweed, sand and seashells. The thought of birds, turtles and fish ingesting shards of plastic, bottle caps, or entangled in netting, turned our attention to beach-combing for litter.

We asked the life-guards on duty if there is an effort to clean the beach, and they mentioned that occasionally, a church group, or scout group conducts a clean-up event. At that point, we became freelance volunteers. We keep a stash of bags in our vehicle; small bags to thirty-gallon garbage bags, and gloves to protect our hands from unsanitary litter. The exercise from walking, breathing fresh ocean air, enjoying spectacular views, and keeping the positive ripple effect in motion, is most beneficial.

The next time you head out to go boating, fishing, paddle-boarding, beach-combing, or to enjoy a good read at the beach or park, consider taking a bag along, in case you see litter that may pose a danger to others, or to the abundant wildlife living in their natural habitat. Volunteering is invaluable, whether you volunteer as an individual, with a friend, in a group, or with an organization.

Let’s volunteer to keep the treasure in Treasure Coast – happy summer!


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