Results of Our First Gunnison Beach Cleanup & Why Naturists Should Do Cleanups
This past Saturday, we had our very first beach cleanup at Gunnison nude beach!
Why organize a beach cleanup? First of all it is part of our YNA naturist philosophy to take care of the environment, especially the places we enjoy as naturists.
Second, it’s important for the preservation of nude / clothing-optional beaches and places on public land. As we know, nude beaches get closed down all the time even when there’s been a longstanding tradition of nude use. Organizing a beach cleanup doesn’t guarantee that this won’t happen, but it does help develop a positive relationship with the local parks department or authorities responsible for overseeing and policing the area.
It demonstrates that naturists are invested in their beach and willing to help maintain it. It also puts a face to the community and creates personal ties. We in essence stop being “those naked people” and start to be perceived as individuals with names and faces.
Working with local authorities also helps dissolve any preconceived notions they might have about nudists and the nude beach. Even the ranger we worked with at Sandy Hook said he better understood the nude beach after overseeing our event. A cleanup is so simple but it makes a difference!
We want to make it known that we (naturists) are good, responsible citizens that will do our part to make a place better for everyone. And that in turn will make rangers’ jobs easier and more pleasant instead of more difficult. If the only time the rangers are interacting with naturists is to make arrests or intervene when there’s inappropriate behavior, this is not going to leave a positive impression of naturists as a whole.
On Saturday around 10:00 am we gathered at the entrance to Gunnison Beach. Here we met with a ranger who gave us a quick safety talk and lent us a bunch of trash pickers, which we appreciated!
Then we took our bags and went out to the sand to start picking up any trash. Just in the first few hundred feet of sand you can already find litter – I saw little pieces of plastic and a beer can almost buried in the sand.
Further out, there was plenty more garbage to pick up. One of the recent hurricanes (Jose I think) had caused flooding near the entrance. This washed up all kinds of stuff in and around the dunes where the plants served as a catchall. Though there was also plenty to be found out in the sand as well.
What did we find? Plastic bags and food wrappers, balloon fragments, two golf balls, two syringes (the ranger said he thought these were from an insulin user), an intact glass pipe, plastic straws, many plastic tampon applicators, plastic cup lids, and all kinds of bottles, both glass and plastic. Also: tons of cigarette butts, plastic bottle caps, plastic cigar tips and lots and lots of unidentifiable little pieces of plastic.
Did you notice how much “plastic” came up in the above list? Plastic pollution has become a main focus of environmental organizations looking to protect oceans and waterways. With the rise of single-use plastics, it’s become a huge problem worldwide. One such organization, the Surfrider Foundation, says we have “up to 13 million tons of plastic entering marine waters each year.”
Plastic does not biodegrade. It only breaks down into smaller pieces, which not only pollute the ocean but harm the wildlife that mistake it for food and eat it. In reality, every single molecule of plastic ever created, still exists today.
Cigarette butts may seem like less of a pollution problem, but they are actually composed of a non-biodegradable plastic. Surfrider states that an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered in the environment worldwide every year, and they take 25 years to break down.
These are just a few reasons to clean up all the plastic garbage and cigarette butts that litter our beaches and oceans!
We were only about 11 people on Saturday, but we managed to fill 8 giant bags with trash. We left the beach cleaner than when we found it, but there is still more trash out there!
We may plan another cleanup in the spring. Til then, we encourage Gunnison beach visitors to bring an empty bag with them and pick up some extra trash on their way out!
Also, check out this article I wrote about how we can reduce plastic and create less waste in our everyday lives!