Wednesday, December 11, 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.
Labor Day marks an end for many beachgoers. For me, it marks a beginning.
In the height of summer, a beach loses itself. It becomes a sea of people.
The umbrellas & blankets & littered bottles & red skin all look the same from place to place. And the character of the place itself fades into the background.
In a world full of challenges, it can feel overwhelming to try and make a difference. No matter what it is that you care about.
Obviously for me, I care about a clean & healthy ocean. But the world’s oceans cover 139 million square miles. They’re all fouled with plastic to some extent, and the plastic industry juggernaut pumps out billions of tons of new packaging/wrap/furniture/toys every year.
What can one person do?
Do one thing. One thing at a time.
This was beautiful Curtis Cove this past Sunday, just before sundown.
This was also Curtis Cove this past Sunday.
Over the weekend we went to a birthday party at our friends’ house. It was beautiful -- a real, old-fashioned lawn party. Checkered tablecloths, candle-lined paths, flowers in vases, sweet summer air, laughing with friends.
We had a great night!
And our friend who put it together did so without using throwaway plastic. The tablecloths - real cloth. Drinks came in mason jars, plates were ceramic, the cutlery steel.
At the end of the night, the only garbage came from a few food scraps. No half-dozen bags heaving with plastic plates and forks and cups to be dragged to the curb.
I chose “Undercurrents” for this blog’s name because it fits so many themes. There really are undercurrents connecting the ocean to us, and us to it -- and us to each other -- in unexpected ways.
I ran into a great example of that just the other day.
First thing in the morning, I was playing a fun little time-waster phone app. Build a shop, stock the shop, watch computer “customers” buy stuff, and visit other real-life people who have set up their own shops.
One of my small group of “neighbors” happens to live on the coast north of Boston.