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Bag Ladies On The Beach November 4, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Humor, Sustainable Living.

IMGP2348bArmed with a few plastic bags, and green surgical gloves, my nieces and I set out to stroll along the coast one weekend.

We intended to get some exercise from walking while picking up small bits of trash as we strode along the sand.

With our matching gloves and bags, we looked a bit like the Blue Man Group ~ or, maybe, the Green Glove Group.

Our thought, naïve as it turns out, was to pick up wind-whipped wrappers from straws on juice boxes, blown away from harried mothers with toddlers.

We planned to scan the horizon and pick up the extraneous can or bottle inadvertently dropped by families packing up to leave the beach.

Instead, we found whole piles of garbage people had left behind on purpose!

We didn’t find the occasional can or bottle sitting in the sand ~ we found carefully stacked cases of empty beverage containers that people were too lazy, indolent, or ignorant to take with them when they left.

We didn’t find isolated cigarette butts here and there, we found mounds of butts that people were too self-important to pick up and dispose of properly ~ despite the fact that Manatee County installed ashtrays up and down its beaches to help stem the tide of butts left behind by butt heads.

We didn’t find “a” Subway napkin blowing in the wind.

We found a Subway bag, the size of a beach ball, stuffed with napkins,  sub wrappers, and chip bags, lying on the sand, ready to float out with the next tide and clog the stomach of unsuspecting sea turtles looking to fill up on jelly fish.

Next to the beach ball of garbage, sat a  ponderous pile of empty Subway cups.  What is wrong with people?  What ever happened to leave only footprints and take only pictures?

As we gathered trash, an enormous group gathered on the beach offered to assist our efforts by giving us their cans and bottles.  Perhaps they thought we were treasure hunting . . . “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

“Hey, are you collecting cans for recycling?”

“Not really.  No.  We’re picking up garbage to keep the beach clean and to prevent refuse from washing out to sea.”

“Well, we have a bunch of cans here,” waving arm at a two-foot-tall pile of empty Buds and Bud Lights, “you can have them if you want them.”

“No, we’re good.  We’re finding plenty of trash left by other beachgoers.”

“OK, that’s cool.  But they’re yours if you want them.”

“Great.  We’ll catch you on the rebound if we have room left in our bags.”

We didn’t.

In no time, the bags we brought overflowed with plastic bottles, dirty napkins, aluminum cans, Dr. Scholl’s foot insoles, and sticky styrofoam soda cups full of ants.  We also found plastic bags dancing on the breeze like wind-blown jellyfish and captured them to stash trash.

Within half an hour, the three of us had 6-7 bulging bags of garbage to carry off the beach.

On the one hand, we felt good that we had done some small thing to make our corner of the world a better place.  On the other green-gloved hand, we were steamed.  Literally.  Our hands under our matching green plastic surgical gloves were hot and sweaty and gross ~ but we were glad to have those gloves on as protection against the germs left by beach goers who have a strong aversion to carrying trash off the beach.

Mark Twain once wrote:  “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

As someone of Scottish descent, that type of commentary on the greatest sport ever invented seems somewhat cavalier.

But I can say:  “A good walk on the Gulf is spoiled by garbage left behind by butt heads.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

On a related note:  Jan Philpot (Think Pink) wrote a fun story about a librarian who runs away from home and responsibilities to live at the beach.  If you’re interested:  Millie Gail Grundy, BLOB (Bag Lady on the Beach)


1. shreejacob - November 4, 2013

Hmmm…and then we realise that it doesn’t matter how “developed” or “progressive” people are…these things happens every where!
I can’t believe that those people didn’t get the hint! Or feel ashamed! O.O

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? And it makes me NOT want to visit their homes ~ I expect their abodes not to be as clean and tidy as one might desire.

Oh, wait, maybe they live in a barn? :mrgreen:

shreejacob - November 4, 2013

Ahahaha…you know Nancy, it may surprise you to learn that sometimes these sorts of people would probably be pretty anal about their own house….they just bother about the rest…strange huh?

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

You’ve got a point . . . they could just have an over-rated sense of their own importance.

tlryder - November 4, 2013

Yeah, my neighbors throw tons of trash onto the street, but they keep their own yard very tidy. 0_x

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

That’s so funny and so sad at the same time. 😕

2. Don - November 4, 2013

Salute you all.

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

Is that a 21 glove salute? 😉

Don - November 4, 2013


3. Booksphotographsandartwork - November 4, 2013

What on earth is wrong with people? I just can not imagine people being so stupid as to leave trash anywhere let alone the beach. Good for you guys for cleaning it up but it sure was wrong that you had to do that.

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

Maybe they never learned to tidy up after their self-important selves . . . and it was the maid’s day off. That could be it. 😕

4. Pix Under the Oaks - November 4, 2013

Nancy that was a great thing you and your nieces did. What IS the matter with people. It takes nothing to gather your trash and drop it in the many trashcans along the beaches. They ARE butt heads!!!

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

Thanks, Pix. It’s astounding how easily some people abrogate their responsibility vis a vis the environment.

Maybe we’ll go on the road and call ourselves The Clean Green Litter-Busting Machine! :mrgreen:

5. Rainee - November 4, 2013

Sounds like a great effort on your part! Shame about other peoples’ attitudes 😦

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

Whether they’re ignorant or indolent, I’m glad I’m ME and not THEM. That’s not the footprint I want to leave behind me. 😕

6. Grannymar - November 4, 2013

I hate the way people leave their trash behind on the beach. It makes you wonder what their homes are like?

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

It makes me wonder about the state of their homes, their cars, and their values. Something is amiss and off-kilter when people treat public places like dumps. 😕

7. katecrimmins - November 4, 2013

I wonder if the folks who so wanted you to take their trash, left it behind.

joannevalentinesimson - November 4, 2013

If I had to bet, I’d bet they did. Hope you asked them to please haul out their own trash!!

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

I expect I said something like, “if our bags are full, you’re on your own.” 😉

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

I wondered the same thing . . .

Then decided that, if they didn’t realize that it needed to be hauled away, they wouldn’t have asked us to haul it for them.

8. Eric Tonningsen - November 4, 2013

Thank you for your contribution!

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

I laugh at our naïvity ~ we really thought we’d be picking up a few straw wrappers, bottle caps, and other “overlooked” items, not piles of trash. Quite an eye opener. 😯

9. colonialist - November 4, 2013

How kind of them to point out more to you!
People …

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

People have a sprinkling of vices still to overcome, eh? :mrgreen:

10. barb19 - November 4, 2013

You and your nieces did a good thing Nancy – but you shouldn’t have had to in the first place. With all the advertising going on about disposing of trash, there is no excuse – some people just don’t listen, or they don’t care. Perhaps if they saw a turtle choking on a plastic bag, or a bird struggling to get rid of rubbish looped round it’s body and slowly killing it, the message might get home . . . I would hope so.

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

Yup. It’s rather hard for litterbugs to claim “lack of education” as an excuse . . . because how smart do you have to be to know that LITTER is a no-no? Not very.

I expect that most people who leave trash behind them just don’t care about anything but their own convenience.

11. Tom Merriman - November 4, 2013

Good on you for doing what those other people didn’t do.

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

There are several special “Clean Up Days” for the beaches around here too. It’s amazing the mass of garbage, trash, and litter the volunteers round up.

12. Andra Watkins - November 4, 2013

If I can keep my little corner of the world clean, it’s the best I can do. I’d go off my rocker if I got upset every time I saw another piece of trash.

nrhatch - November 4, 2013

I try to keep ALL THINGS in perspective ~ doing what I can with what I have where I am . . . while maintaining my sense of humor at all costs! :mrgreen:

13. suzicate - November 5, 2013

The most disheartening thing about hiking into nature is seeing what human’s leave behind!

nrhatch - November 5, 2013

It’s hard to enjoy nature with mankind’s left behinds in full view.

14. jannatwrites - November 5, 2013

Ugh! Littering is a pet peeve of mine. We often end up with bags of trash when we go hiking/camping. It’s disgusting. When my older son went on a Boy Scout hike, they carried out bags of trash, as well as a discarded tent and a styrofoam cooler. (This is in addition to their own 25-30 pound packs.)

Even from a young age, I taught my boys to throw trash in designated bins because the world is not their garbage can. Even at a young age, they could ponder the question, “if everyone dropped their candy wrappers on the ground, what do you think it would look like?”

I’ve even been known to do do the subtle, “excuse me, you dropped something” when I see someone drop their trash on the ground. My younger son isn’t so subtle…he shouts, “hey, that guy just threw his trash on the ground! 🙂

nrhatch - November 5, 2013

I want to hire your son . . . do you rent him out??? He would be a great asset to have next time we see someone leaving their leavings on the beach. 😆

15. Three Well Beings - November 5, 2013

Good for you for taking the time to do litter patrol! I just don’t know how anyone can litter our beaches! It’s not okay anywhere, really, but somehow at the ocean I’m even more offended. My granddaughters want to pick up litter when we’re out and it’s so funny trying to explain to them that we just can’t be handling other people’s garbage. They haven’t hit the “I’m not going to touch that” phase yet. 🙂

nrhatch - November 6, 2013

Shall I send you some green surgical gloves for your next walk with them? I keep a box in my trunk so I can avoid touchy stuff that makes me go “EWWWW!!!” 😕

16. Perfecting Motherhood - November 7, 2013

Wow, I’m surprised to hear this. The beaches I visit in San Diego are never that dirty, but I’m probably not going to the busiest ones, the ones used by the “dirty” people. I do see trash everywhere else though, including the street, sidewalks, parks, shopping plazas, etc. Most of the time, there’s a trash can in sight. And don’t get me started on dog poop, that’s everywhere and that’s gross! What is wrong with people???

nrhatch - November 7, 2013

Our beaches are kept clean and tidy ~ patrolled daily. That’s why we were so surprised by what we found that weekend. And maybe that’s it ~> we don’t usually go to the busiest beaches at the busiest times. Maybe they always get a bit trashed on the weekends.

People are an amazing breed. 😕

Perfecting Motherhood - November 7, 2013

That’s probably why. Maybe there needs to be more trash cans placed strategically at the beach. You know people don’t want to walk a few more steps to get rid of their trash!

nrhatch - November 7, 2013

Yup. Most of the piles left behind were not near the main beach which has lots of trash cans. But I figure if you can cart it TO the beach, you should be able to cart the remnants OFF the beach. 😐

Perfecting Motherhood - November 7, 2013

I agree, but that seems too logical for some people…

nrhatch - November 7, 2013

It does seem beyond their ken! 😛

17. Where’s the common in common decency gone? | The Heartsongs Blog - November 7, 2013

[…] these people in Nancy’s post even aware of what they were […]

nrhatch - November 8, 2013

We are trained to compete to get a bigger piece of pie . . . not to cooperate to make sure everyone gets a slice.

As a result, some people go through life with an It’s-All-About-Me mindset which causes them to claim entitlements to which they aren’t really entitled ~ they cut in line, take more than they need, and don’t look out for anyone else.

For Greedy Gus, Harriet the Hog, and Piggy Pete common decency got lost in the shuffle. 😐

18. bluebee - November 9, 2013

Mind-boggling, really – like people who can’t walk a few steps to put their shopping trolley in the trolley storage bay. But garbage is worse because, as you point out, it can be lethal to wildlife. Well done, Nancy – there’s an idea – a garbage-collecting walking club!

nrhatch - November 9, 2013

It’s no wonder we have an obesity epidemic when people can’t even walk a few extra steps to return shopping carts. The only time I’m tempted to skip that step is when it’s POURING RAIN.

19. The Balsamean - December 9, 2013

Thank you for your work on that beach.

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