Neil's News


19 August 2013

Quynh and I spent Saturday cleaning a small beach on Yerba Buena Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. We hauled out three garbage bags of trash. It was my 30th trip to clean that beach, but I think it's finally done.

[Panorama of beach on Yerba Buena Island]

An analysis of what ends up on the beach is interesting. Tennis balls, plastic bottles, styrofoam, shoes, cigarette lighters and ear plugs make up about 80% of the content. The remaining 20% is a diverse collection of toys, rope, tampon applicators, oil-spill booms, USPS boxes, PVC pipe, buckets, shotgun shells, and so on. Oddly, despite cleaning up a decade of waste, I haven't come across a single plastic bag. Which is unsettling since there was recently a city-wide ban on plastic bags on the grounds that they polluted the Bay. This leads me to believe that the plastic bag ban is was undertaken by well-intentioned people who wanted to do something, but lacked reliable data. Switching to bio-degradable ear plugs would have made a bigger impact.

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