Saturday, March 17, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 126

Friday afternoon, my husband and I went to Wrightsville Beach.  Because it was such a gorgeous day, I made the decision that I wanted to go to Johnnie Mercer's Pier.  I often have mixed feelings about that particular area at WB, because it is no doubt part of the trashiest area on the beach strand.  My mixed feelings come from it being a place where I can easily show the lack of responsibility people take and just how disrespectful some people are.... but... as much as this is good to teach awareness, it just gets overwhelming and frustrating sometimes.  Case in point:
Because there was so much trash in just this one area, my husband decided to drag the trash can down and pick it all up.  (Yes, part of our 20 minutes was taken to clean up that mess and I didn't add it to the tally.)  SO... as we saw that big mess strewn across the sand... we questioned why the people couldn't just walk the trash up to the trash cans??  BUT... then we raised a bigger question.  If people that litter THAT much trash and aren't caught and/or cited... then how in the world do the three Wrightsville Beach aldermen that voted down the proposed smoking ban expect someone who litters something as small as a cigarette butt to be cited for littering??  I ask that question in all seriousness.  I wonder from a police officer's point of view how difficult that task must be??  
It sounds daunting if not impossible.  Though I would be the first to say that I believe that anything is possible.  BUT, with a small police force at WB... I wonder about the feasibility of police officers being able to truly enforce the littering law... especially when it comes to cigarette butts?  Hmmm... Since the public hearing we have done 3 clean ups at Wrightsville Beach.  My friend Sara has done 4 beach clean ups in Santa Monica.  We're comparing the amount of cigarettes found on our two beaches in just 20 minute increments.  So far the difference is staggering.  We ask, "Can you tell which beach has banned smoking?"

Wrigthsville Beach: 3 beach clean ups-- 781 cigarette butts
Santa Monica: 4 beach clean ups-- 57 cigarette butts

Another thing that happened yesterday, was us seeing a group of people pack up their stuff and leave their trash. (See the people standing just to the right of the access sign?  Yeah, that's them.)  They grabbed all their chairs, towels, etc... but failed to grab 2 plastic water bottles and 2 freshly smoked cigarettes.  When my husband approached them to let them know that they forgot some things, he received a common response: "Oh, we were going to come back for that." (RIGHT, because those water bottles and cigarette butts are so important they'd never be forgotten.)  Please note the sarcasm... because as often as we've heard that line (along with the "that's not ours" line)... no one ever packs up everything... walks all the way to the access and goes back for their cigarette butts or other trash.  By the way, as the conversation progressed... her story changed to place the blame on the young teenager that was with them.  (sad)
I'm here to make a difference.  Want to join in?

20 minutes on March 16, 2012 at Access 15
Cigarette butts: 210
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 126 days: