Clean sweep at Eastville
"Look, it's a pair of pants," said Carol Carroll as she pulled a pair of trousers out of the rock jetty at Eastville Beach last Saturday. Her 7-year-old daughter Molly was helping with the yearly beach cleanup, although she was also keeping an eye out for beach glass.
This was the 17th year of the All-Island Earth Day Beach Clean-up, sponsored by the Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS). At each of the 20 supervised beaches, VCS members handed out recycled trash bags and gloves to volunteers, who then spread out across the beaches to collect debris.
"This is one of the most painful beaches to clean," said Glenn Alberich, referring to the tangle of Rosa rugosa that spreads along the dunes and collects an array of wind-blown or hand-tossed trash.
Jeffrey Brodeur, a scientist working with the Sea Grant Program at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), was not only collecting trash, but also peering into other people's trash bags and recording his findings in a logbook. He said the most common trash is cigarette butts, followed closely by plastic drinking straws. "And there's just lots of plastic," he added.
The rock jetty was a veritable treasure trove of trash. Packaging from fishing gear, discarded or lost lures, and an abundance of tangled fishing line. "There are so many good fishermen. It only takes a few," said Mr. Brodeur.
Marie Barton was happy her young son, Matthew, came to help this year because his smaller hands reached many places among the rocks she couldn't get to. They also scoured the dunes and found lots of plastic bottles.
"The strangest thing I picked up was an electric automatic car window switch," said Paul Waldman, another volunteer. "I wonder what happened to the car," he added.
After the bags were full, the volunteers returned to the parking lot and left the bags to be picked up later in the day by the town. Tomar Waldman, who handled the sign-up at Eastville Beach, said that returning volunteers are always asked about any unusual items they found. Her list included a piece of drainpipe, a boat seat, razors, lots of balloons with attached ribbons, and lounge chairs.
The two-hour beach cleanup was followed by a free community lunch at SBS in Vineyard Haven where caterer Tom Engley spread an abundance of food including hotdogs, chowder, platters of skewered shrimp and cherry tomatoes, and cookies. New this year was a raffle component for children aged 15 and younger, the winner receiving a Riley's $50 gift certificate to Riley Reads Bookstore in Vineyard Haven.