On Saturday, September 21, I joined the New York City Audubon at North Channel Bridge (renamed as the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge ) to participate in the 2013 Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup!
This is my first time volunteering with the New York City Audubon and it was a great experience. We boarded a little yellow school bus from their headquarters on 23rd Street for the short ride to the Jamaica Bay area. All the supplies we needed for the cleanup were provided as well as water and snacks. But, nobody brought coffee???
Our group consisted of 16 volunteers including the staff from the NYC Audubon. We cleaned the parking lot, the beach, and further down into the longer marsh grass covering ¼ of a mile of coastal area.
We found the usual items such as broken glass bottles, soda cans, and fishing line. We also found items such as statues, decorative scarves and clothing, that were apparently left behind from a ritual previously performed on the beach.
The International Cleanup is organized by the Ocean Conservancy, whose strong efforts to keep our ocean clean to protect and preserve coastal-marine life is a heroic act in itself. At the 2012 International Cleanup, 561,633 volunteers cleaned up almost 10 million pounds of trash. Now THAT is something to think about. It’s something I think about. I think about coffee too.
Several large garbage bins were available in the parking lot and close to the beach entrance but most were overflowing with trash. One parking spot was littered on both sides with ice cream containers and spoons from Coldstone Creamery, as if a car of people enjoyed their ice cream treat, opened their car doors and dropped their trash on the parking lot instead of walking the few steps to the trash can. This lack of respect for the environment by behavior like this is disheartening for those of us who notice it.
The MOST important thing that I noticed is the determination and hard work that every volunteer exerted during this cleanup. The mood was somber after a few hours of work, maybe because it was a cloudy day followed by brief scattered showers. When it started to rain most of the volunteers only stopped to put on their rain coats. During the break everyone ate and rushed back out to work. I was really impressed that most of the volunteers were families and a few local beach goers that signed up to join us unexpectedly.
We filled 27 bags of trash totaling 1,8 75 lbs! That’s almost a TON of trash we prevented from polluting this waterway any futher.
Afterwards, we took a moment to watch the birds scout out the newly exposed sand as low tide set in and breathe in the salty air and remind ourselves that we made one small step in protecting this beautiful area for everyone to enjoy now and in the future.
I want to THANK the New York City Audubon and all the volunteers that day, not just here but internationally because together we can make a difference. And THAT makes me HAPPY!