Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Visiting a Maine beach in March 2010, Harold Johnson was shocked by the ocean-borne debris left by recent storms. He grabbed a garbage bag and a camera, and hasn’t looked back.
Since then he has spent most of his free time studying marine pollution, coastal ecosystems, and the mysteries and science of ocean and shore.
Copyeditor and writer by trade, historian and archaeologist at heart, Johnson’s philosophy is simple: Dig below the surface, travel the currents, make the connections, learn. Then share what you learn. He lives in Saco with his wife and young daughter. Follow on Twitter @FlotsamDiaries.
Last week I was called an “environmentalist” in scare-quotes on Twitter. As in, someone who claims to care about the environment but doesn’t really. Or not enough.
It was a good reminder of an old maxim: However far you will or can push yourself in a direction, someone will push themselves farther. There’s always someone smarter, stronger, more devoted to a cause.
It was also a good reminder that change isn’t about meeting someone else’s expectations. It’s about expanding -- then meeting, then re-expanding -- your own expectations.
Breaking with environmental purity, I still:
Summertime on Maine’s coast.
Nothing says the good life like freshest-of-fresh seafood, crispy fries, maybe some slaw, listening to the surf & the gulls, smelling the salt air, feeling the cool breeze.
News spread this week about Kennebunk’s plans for removing dead wood at Gooch’s Beach. Storms and waves this winter battered the coast, tossing branches & tree trunks up and down Maine’s shore.
But at Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk, the storms did something else. They peeled back much of the sand, exposing what lay beneath.
That isn’t driftwood. That’s the well-defined root system of an ancient tree. And it’s not alone. I took this photo of a small patch further south this morning:
Maine of course is hardly alone in its struggle with plastic pollution. It’s a scourge the world over. And as expected there’s lots of finger pointing, buck-passing, dodging responsibility, assigning blame.
But while regular folks bust their backsides cleaning up plastic litter everywhere, the international plastics industry knows who to blame for the state of things.
Over the past few years, I’ve surfed various ecology/litter Web sites from around the world. Here’s one from South Africa.
Plastic shopping bags are making news these days. People are tired of seeing this:
So of course the bag industry is ramping up its “recycling” campaign as an answer.
But last week the Bangor Daily News reported a sobering reality: Maine’s largest recycling company, ecoMaine, grosses barely $4-5 per TON for recycled plastic bags. That’s when they’re lucky enough to find a buyer.