Beach Clean Ups: Tackling Our Plastic Problems

Sunday April 16, 2023 has marked two years of beach clean ups being orchestrated by Plastic Symptoms and Zuke’s Refillery in Delray. Every third Sunday of the month volunteers grab buckets and hit the beach at Atlantic Avenue for a Delray Beach clean up at 8:30AM. Of course, this action is dealing with the degradation from plastic symptoms that have already hit the shores, what about reducing the problem at the source? The best thing we can do to take on the plastic problem is to educate the public to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Hopefully, by spreading awareness we can help stop the flow of plastic from the source. What can we all do to make a difference?

Many types of plastic are making their way to our shores, everything you can think of: bottles, barbie dolls, toys, and bottle caps are found all along the beach. The hazards are real with broken glass, needles, and vials of blood being found more often than people should be comfortable with. If you are thinking about joining a beach clean up your contribution would be greatly appreciated. Beachgoers are thanking volunteers all the time because everyone can see the difference that it makes.

Zuke’s Refillery 

Lindsay Zukerberg founded Zuke’s Refillery to be proactive about living a low waste lifestyle, the store is full of ideas to help reduce the shear amount of plastics that we use. Follow @zukesrefillery on Instagram or stop by 1878 Dr. Andres Way in Delray Beach to learn about all the sustainable products you can buy that won’t add to the plastic problem. Bamboo home goods, dog toys, and natural beauty products are just some of the items that you will find offer a better alternative to commonly used plastic products. All of the products are made using fair labor practices, paying workers a fair wage.

Plastic Symptoms

Bryan Galvin founded to tackle the plastic pollution that he saw hitting his home beach of Delray Beach. In 2019, Bryan walked twelve hundred miles picking up trash all along Florida’s coast before taking all of it to the steps of the Florida State Capital in Tallahassee. This journey named, “Plastrek 2019” raised awareness about the plastic problems on our beaches. Over 3,000 pounds of trash was displayed on the steps of the capital. Bryan loves surfing, many of us do, the ocean gives us so much joy that it is easy to give back so future generations can enjoy it as well.

Bryan is planning for another trek across Florida. Keep an eye out for Plastrek Tour 2023 will take everything they learned in 2019 and build upon those ideas to spread awareness. Plastic Symptoms is making one of a kind sculptures available for donations. If you are interested in displaying one of these works of art, you will also be provided with information to spread awareness and a unique NFT to commemorate the experience. 

Taking the Problem Head On

Scientists have recently discovered two fungi that are capable of degrading polypropylene, which is the most common plastics we encounter. This breakthrough could help solve the plastic problem head on because currently less than ten percent of plastic waste is actually recycled. Governments and businesses are not taking action fast enough to slow the proliferation of plastics. We need to shift our thinking and change our ways to see any dramatic reduction in the problem. Sustainable products made from Bamboo, Hemp plastics and fibers, and other eco-friendly inputs would be a game-changer for reducing these plastic burdens.

Plastics are a Nightmare

14 acres worth of plastics recently ravaged Indiana as an out of control fire spewed toxic gases into the surrounding community. This one fire, of which there are many, is a perfect example of how we have created a monster that we are having difficulty controlling, recycling is not working. Health problems down the road will no doubt be traced to inhalation of these toxic chemicals. 

170 trillion plastic particles are floating around in the ocean, making the water absolutely disgusting. Single use plastic is wreaking havoc. People are tossing garbage on the land and it is making its way down streams and out to sea. Lobbyists for powerful plastic based industries work overtime to ensure their cash cows are not affected, and are not willing to offer any serious solutions to slow production. Meanwhile, we are literally sitting here eating plastic particles daily, the consequences will be dealt with later.

The Solution

It takes hard work and dedicated people to make a difference. Non-profit organizations like Plastic Symptoms and sustainable businesses like Zuke’s Refillery will continue doing their part, educating the public about these issues and providing alternatives. Knowledge is the key to making a difference and spreading awareness is a key mission that is the focus of everyday.

If you are ever in Delray and would like to volunteer, they would love to have you come out, and everyone would certainly appreciate the help. Donations would be useful in helping to expand the reach and continue finding new ways to reduce the plastics being manufactured, as well as getting rid of the symptoms we are already dealing with.

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