Beach cleans are great! They are the perfect way to get outside, get near the water, and help to keep the beaches and our waters clean! Beach cleans become even greater when you take your finds and let them inspire you to reevaluate the products you are using and how they are being disposed of. I've put together a list of things that I have found in beach cleans and ways to help prevent finding them again on the beach!
THE FIND: Textiles
*bits of old cloth and fabric
*pairs of shorts
*pieces of elastic from waistbands
*Donate! Donate instead of throwing things away. Just because you don't love it anymore doesn't mean someone else can't.
*Buy second hand! You never know what cool treasures you may find!
*Recycle. Not all textile items are in condition to be donated, they have already been too well loved, but you can still keep them out of landfills. Old clothes and fabric can be cut down to be used as cleaning rags (bonus: this saves you a couple bucks since you don't have to buy new rags and helps cut down on the use of paper towel!)
*Repair or mend things. The strap on your backpack is starting to come apart? Sew it up. Your jeans have a hole in the knee? Add a few more holes and turn them into distressed jeans or cut them into a cute new pair of shorts.
THE FIND: All the plastics.
*Tea bags (yes there is plastic in tea bags... it is used to seal them shut and some tea bags have plastic woven into the fibers of the bag.)
*Broken bits of tools, vaccums, machinery.
*Miscellaneous, unidentifiable micro plastics.
Okay you've heard this before.
*Reduce: Shampoo bars, metal straws, reusable water bottles and coffee cups, metal or bamboo utensils, bamboo toothbrushes. All help to cut down on single use plastics.
*Reuse: If you can, repurpose as much as you can! Finished your large container of sour cream? Clean out and reuse the container for storing left overs.
*Recycle: Do your research and make sure you are recycling in the proper way according to your trash collection guidelines. Some places are single stream while some want plastics, papers, and glass separated. (Side note: Did you know that plastic shopping bags cannot be recycled? Have to keep them out of the recycling bin!)
THE FIND: Styrofoam
*Large chunks to tiny little pieces.
*Use as little as you can, or better yet none at all. Styrofoam cannot be recycled and it just continuously breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that never go away.
THE FIND: Electronics
*Pieces from computers
*Do your research to find the best options for recycling things like dead batteries, this varies based on location.
*Look into a buy back program. Many companies, including Apple, offer a trade in program where you can get store credit, cash back, or discounts on new items when you trade in old cell phones, laptops, or tablets.
One of the best ways to make an impact that can help to save our oceans and environment is to vote with your dollar!
*Support companies that are making a difference. Patagonia is a prime example.
*Spend money on quality over quantity. Don't buy into "fast fashion."
*Shop local and support small businesses.
* Don't buy plastic water bottles.
Ultimately the options we have available to purchase are a reflection of what consumers are buying and what is in demand. By voting with your dollar for more environmentally conscious products we can help shift the markets.