Updated: Aug 6, 2019
On our travels down the Oregon coast, we stopped in Bandon to explore, stumbling upon an amazing project that is saving the ocean through art. That project is Washed Ashore, which aims to advocate for the reduction of ocean waste through the 4 R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Refuse) in our everyday life and teaching kids and adults to rethink the use of plastics. If people can see the impact plastic waste has on the Ocean, they will be more inclined to refuse plastic bags, rethink eco-alternatives, and reuse items to reduce waste.
One of the big ways we've seen the impact of plastics in our travels is the amount tossed aside without regard for the impact on the environment. Coastal regions were littered with debris, but less so than areas we least expected it, like near other waterways. We mainly camp in or around BLM land, campgrounds around lakes and rivers, and forest lands, becoming more aware of the items discarded by people. There is an over-abundance of trash everywhere. The worst state, by far, was Mississippi. The sides of the roads were scattered with trash and worst of all, areas near rivers and lakes had horrendous amounts of waste, some of it being hazardous chemical containers. The major issues here are not only the impact it has on the ecosystem, but that these areas are highly flood prone.
We saw this first-hand when we were staying on Enid Lake in Mississippi. Torrential rain pour caused widespread flooding. The trash scattered was picked up by, and ended up in, lakes, but even worse, rivers. The surrounding creeks and rivers empty into the Mississippi River, which flows into...the Ocean! As a better reminder, know that most of the rivers in America flow into the Mississippi River and out to sea. It's impressive how much water flows into that river.
What this means is that trash tossed without care in every state can end up in the Ocean at some point. It's why there are so many garbage islands around the globe. In early 2000 I read an article about one trash island and the fear of what that would do to the ecosystem. Since then, the number of islands has grown, and the giant patches are only getting bigger. They decompose very slowly and become food for the bottom to the top of the ocean food chain.
Projects like washed ashore provide education and demonstrate that these items will be here for a long time, so every effort to thwart the wound helps. Items you wouldn't expect end up in the Ocean.
Remember all that trash we saw in states like Mississippi. It flows into creeks, lakes, rivers, and finally the Ocean. Therefore items like socks and shoes tossed aside in areas like drainage ditches can find their way to the Ocean. Remember this.
How ALL OF US Can Help:
1. Firstly, donate to washed ashore by clicking here. You'll be able to go to their website and see what they do and how they help.
2. Reuse items, instead of buying new. For example, we use microfiber cloths for dusting, drying dishes, cleaning ,and napkins. We then wash them and use again. Furthermore, we make our own cleaners and keep using the same bottle for years.
3. Bring reusable bags with you to the grocery store and at other shopping locations. Having a stack of bags is helpful. We use some recycled Chico bags and some cloth ones. The idea is to always keep them in the car, so you have them when out shopping. It's too easy to become complacent when shopping, taking bags at the store because it's easier, or they were forgotten at home. Again, remember to keep them in the car. Think about all the bags you use in a year and how much that would save by not using one plastic bag.
4. Keep a stack of metal straws with you. We always have them on us so that we can skip the straw. Turtles love these things, so remember the Turtles next time you are looking at a straw. Remember the Turtles!
6. Don't toss trash out of the car or into the environment. Better yet, if you see trash on the ground, pick some up and throw it away. Go the extra mile. If each of us picks up 1 piece oftrash per day, that would equate to around 117 billion pieces of trash in one year! Yes, that includes children. Get children involved and educated early. It's their Ocean we're leaving them damaged. If we don't teach the next generation, it's all over.