More reasons to prevent plastic waste from entering our waters

A fish caught with a beverage ring around its belly in Lake Ontario PHOTO Jim Bodenstab via 5Gyres Newsletter.

Photo of basking shark with plastic ring around her nose. Credit: Craig Whalley via blog

And why we should all be participating in beach clean ups…on our own, or through regularly scheduled clean up efforts by organizations like Save Our Shores (for Santa Cruz and Monterey County, California beaches).

Photo via


It seems an insurmountable task, when we use plastics for….well… just about everything!

Unfortunately, we currently recover only about 5% of the plastics we produce, so we have to decrease — and better yet — eliminate as much plastics as we can from our daily activities.

We can do this!

Visit and take the Plastic Promise: 

I promise to:

  • Bring my own water bottle, mug, utensils and reusable bag.

  • Say ‘No Plastic Straw Please” when I dine out.

  • Buy what’s in the least amount of plastic packaging.

  • Pick up 5 pieces of plastic pollution I see littered whenever I’m out.

  • Engage family, businesses and co-workers to make this promise too.

Related articles: Lolako’s 12 Minutes (the average use time of a plastic bag) and Trash and Plastics Vortex in the North Pacific

One woman’s beach clean-up

The beaches around our area are, in general, nice and clean.  Still though, you will occasionally see food packaging trash and plastic items, or other small objects, as you walk on the beach.

Yesterday’s walk was a little odd.  I saw several oranges, a few mangoes, and an apple — half-eaten by a seagull nearby.   Did someone throw their fruit bowl overboard?

It was low tide, and some of the fruit were wrapped up in sea grasses.

Orange washed up with sea weed Moss Landing Beach

I must say, this is the first time I’ve encountered washed-up fruit during a beach walk.  Mangoes at the Moss Landing beach?

Mangoes washed up on Moss Landing Beach

Fruit of the Sea?

At the parking lot, and prior to my walk, I saw a woman talking on her cell phone, and at the same time, she was pulling open a plastic bag — the long type we get with our newspaper delivery, during damp Central coast mornings.

I saw her again later… jogging towards me, and noticed that the newspaper plastic bag was now full of trash.  Though she is there to exercise, she specifically brought the bag to pick-up trash that she spots while running on the beach.  That is definitely one way to take personal action for a cleaner environment!

Then I felt bad — why didn’t I think to do this?   Earlier, I had seen some plastic trash — a soaked, sandy sandwich bag and a plastic syringe, near the entrance to the beach.  I just started my walk and did not have a place to put them, especially with camera in hand.  I made a mental note to pick those items up on the way back.

When the woman ran by me — tiny trash bag in hand — I thanked her for her efforts.  I mentioned the syringe and plastic bag near the beach entrance.  She told me not to worry, and she would pick those up too!

Her actions touched me — that she would do this on her own since she was at beach anyway.  Not because there was a community-scheduled beach clean up day —- nope, all just on her own.

I wondered how often she goes there…and for how long?  How much stuff has she picked up?  What if we all did this, even at every other walk or visit to the beach…

It does serve as a reminder for me to put a bag in my pocket too  — especially that I get those same newspaper delivery plastic bags.  And to pick up little items that would be harmful to a wildlife that may try to eat it, or so it does not get pulled into the ocean.

Who knows where this stuff ends up?  Oh right, well actually, we do know.  Far, far, away sometimes — as my previous blog post tells us (Message from the Gyre).

The woman is one of my everyday heroines — and I wish I got her name, and her picture  (aside from the picture I took of her continuing on with her run)!  Who knows….she may be a regular runner in the area, and if I see her again, I will have to give her another big THANK YOU.

Sea shell in seaweed near Moss Landing / Salinas River State Beach

And to those who do this — people on their exercise run or walk, and cleaning up the beach at the same time — a big THANK YOU, to you too, for keeping the beaches and our oceans clean!