Count your­self in

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

It’s al­most to the edge of spring now, so let’s play a game. An easy game – an out­door game. All ages wel­come. Go to the beach. Bun­dle up, be­cause it’s likely go­ing to be cold, with the wind off the wa­ter the way it of­ten is in spring.

Any beach in the At­lantic re­gion. You could go to the foot of New­found­land’s Avalon Penin­sula, to a great wind beach of windswept cob­ble: small round stones, the per­fect size and smooth­ness to be­come a worry-stone in a front pants pocket. The hump­backs come there once the caplin come in to spawn, and it’s open ocean, so the waves are al­most al­ways im­pres­sive.

Or the sand beach just past the turnoff to Jac­ques Cartier Provin­cial Park on the western side of Prince Ed­ward Is­land, headed for Tig­nish. It’s a small beach, and you pop out of the close-in trees on both sides of the road to find it: fine rusty sand, long mid­dens of empty mus­sel and other shells. But don’t cross Route 12 to poke around in the col­laps­ing barn. It’s pri­vate prop­erty, marked “No Tres­pass­ing.”

In Nova Sco­tia, how about the beach at Bayswa­ter, the long cres­cent of sand that’s planed flat by the waves – un­til sum­mer, and all the peo­ple, come to make sand cas­tles and wave-flooded moats and walk in the shal­low slap­ping waves. But back to the game.

Go to any of those places — go to any beach at all, large or small, sandy or stony — and look around. Count how many steps it takes to find your first piece of plas­tic trash. Maybe it’s a cof­fee cup lid. Maybe it’s the twist-off top to a bot­tle of wa­ter. Maybe it’s that wa­ter bot­tle it­self.

Then, how many steps is it to the next piece of dis­carded waste: the ragged edge of a half­buried plas­tic bag. The sole of a long-dis­card shoe. A shiny plas­tic chip bag.

And count.

Our oceans are over­run with plas­tic. Birds and marine life are eat­ing it and dy­ing as a re­sult, yet ev­ery pass­ing year, there’s more. Mil­lions upon mil­lions of pieces of it, be­ing bro­ken down by wave ac­tion and sun­light into smaller pieces that eas­ier for even-smaller marine life to eat, but just as dif­fi­cult for them to get rid of.

In the time it takes to read this editorial, at al­most any of those beaches, you’d be hard pressed not to find 20 or more pieces of plas­tic trash.

But the game isn’t about how many pieces you see.

For­get about how many pieces of plas­tic you saw: how many pieces of trash did you pick up for proper dis­posal? Or how have you re­duced the plas­tic trash you pro­duced?

Do you count your­self as just an­other in­dif­fer­ent part of the prob­lem, or will you at least try to be part of the so­lu­tion?

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