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Keeping It Clean

Notes from Land's End: Apr. 24


April 24th, 2012

I like to think of myself as a green, earthy, recycling, going local type. So, when Barbara Edwards, owner of the Three Peaks Bed and Breakfast, asked me to walk a few miles to collect garbage on Herring Cove, I said yes, thinking that we live in one of the most pristine ports in America. How much junk could there be?

It’s safe to say [that] we collected about 1000 pounds of garbage, mostly from two miles along Long Point.

A ton, that’s how much.

This past weekend’s Trash-a thon was a suggestion from Milo Cress, the only child born here in Provincetown during 2001. His extraordinary initiative, Be Straw Free, was one fourth-grader’s response to the 500,000,000 plastic straws thrown out daily in the United States.

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Milo contacted The Center for Coastal Studies and suggested that we collect one ton of refuse off the beaches as a part of the national Earth Day weekend. Other groups, including the Swim for Life and the Provincetown Conservation Trust all agreed to support the effort.

Jesse Mechling, Director of Marine Education at Provincetown’s Center for Coastal Studies, diligently coordinated two days of trash pick up along Herring Cove, Long Point and from the Breakwater in the West End to MacMillan Pier. The collected garbage would then go to a drop off point and become re-used in a sculpture by artists Jay Hall, Carla Paynter and Tom Valentine.

I joined Milo, his mom O’dale and a dozen others in the parking lot of Herring Cove at a time that I consider early to be seen (9 a.m.). Jesse’s passion for the environment was clear in his orientation to the Trash-a thon. We each got a re-usable bag and walked (and walked) almost to Wood End. It looked pretty clean to me.

On the way back, it was time to get picking. Patricia Hughes, staff-member at the Coastal Studies, kept a record of what we found - shocking – really. Styrofoam, net, balloons, ribbon, plastic toy parts, lobster trap parts, and sadly, syringes. Lydia Hamquist, owner of Global Gifts at 212 Commercial, found stuff high up on the dunes, including totes from boats and a toy horse.

Jesse commented, "[I want to give a] huge thanks to the 30 or so people who helped out in our two day beach Trash-a Thon, some on both days. It’s safe to say [that] we collected about 1,000 pounds of garbage, mostly from two miles along Long Point.” He said, quipping, “If you weren't able to make this clean-up, don't worry, there is still at least another 1,000 pounds out [there] for the next time."

At the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, sculptor Mike Wright, with Richard Lacasse and others, created a window installation of plastic bottles, garbage turned into translucent shapes within that structural restraint. PAAM is a silver LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) award winner with the U.S. Green Buildings council, the first museum in America to garner this achievement.

Appearances, Provincetown’s spring green arts festival, included outdoor/indoor installations, art exhibits in over a dozen participating galleries and events with artists from fifteen states and five continents.

It was an honor to do my part to keep our beloved Outer Cape a beautiful place during Earth Day weekend.

“Notes from Lands End”, by artistic bon vivant Laura Shabott, is a weekly account of the people, places and events that make our town so special.

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