Surfing Montauk with Debra Rose

August 2020

Small Steps, Big Impact

Debra Rose

With so much emphasis on keeping ourselves safe, we have moved much of our lives outdoors. Eating, recreating, working and socializing have moved outside, and our streets, beaches and ocean have been busier than ever. While we are keeping ourselves healthy, we have to do the same for our environment, especially our beaches. This applies to everyone, not just surfers.

We cannot emphasize enough how a little effort will go a long way.

Drop by any of your favorite beaches and you may spot the following; beer cans, evidence of a bonfire, glass bottles, coffee cups, washed up plastic, wrappers, food containers, over flowing garbage bins and dog debris bags to name a few. A fellow surfer recently saw a beachgoer openly toss her doggie debris bag on the beach and keep walking. Bonfire seekers neglecting to clean up their trash make a dangerous mess for those visiting the beach in the morning. Most people may find a bonfire that is not yet extinguished and bury it, not realizing how dangerous it can be. Let it stay visible and burn out, otherwise it will severely burn someone that unknowingly walks over it with bare feet.

Inevitably we will have trash on our beach if we allow it, with the lack of trash receptacles at the beach, and those that are available fill up quickly. While we can do our part to throw out our own trash, we can take other small but impactful steps. Be sure to always have a plastic bag on you for when you do spot trash, and remove it safely from the beach. Chances are you have plastic gloves on you or in your car to facilitate safe garbage removal.

Whether you are on a morning walk, going to surf, spending the day at the beach, or walking your dog at sunset, taking the time to pick up even one piece of trash will have a mighty impact.

Yes, it is not your job. It is all of our jobs. And no one is above it.

Our beaches don’t wonder why we should pick up after others, and our environment does not worry if someone is learning a lesson if we pick up after them. But we all love the beach and we want to keep it pristine. While careless, people are not littering the beach just so others can clean up after them. Reframe the annoyance into motivation to set an example.

On a recent early morning surf check, a model-citizen-surfer known as Tony Beard was spotted at Ditch with a handful of random debris he collected while checking the waves. Quietly without fuss, and without stepping over ‘someone else’s garbage’ he took the inspiring step of removing trash from our beach. From his beach walk alone that morning our environment was a lot better for everyone else. Please do your part and keep our beaches healthy, safe and clean, just as we are all trying to do for ourselves. Our environment is an extension of our minds, so please keep both an oasis of beauty.