We came to live at the beach a few months ago, at the very start of summer. Our two small dogs love to run free on the sand: the beach is broad and long, with loads of driftwood, occasional fish or bird carcasses, even the odd dead cow. And, their favourite, rabbit poop. Oh how they love that rabbit poop!
But there is something they love even more: discarded fishing bait wrappers, sandwiches, chicken and barbecue.
Given that our dogs are garbage disposal experts, a walk on the beach can be more irritating than relaxing for me as I chivvy them along from one tasty spot to another.
As a caring owner, of course, I actually don’t want them eating random finds on the beach. Who knows what they might scoff and harm themselves! They’ve never been allowed to eat things they find, but that’s just my point of view. In their heads
Leave seems to mean
Eat as much as you can before I get there. It’s a lost cause…
But while the dogs are busy cleaning the beach of anything they consider edible, I find my eye falls on the other rubbish: plastic bags and containers, glass bottles, random and mysterious parts of unknown objects, made from metal or plastic.
For a while each item of rubbish would assault my eyes and my disrupt my sense of peace and tranquility. I’d tut to myself and walk on, trying to recover my calm after the annoyance.
Now, I know there are 3 sources of beach rubbish. Some drifts in on the tide, carried here from who knows where. Some has been whipped out of caring hands by the wind or perhaps just genuinely forgotten or lost.
But what’s really infuriating is the junk that has simply been discarded as though the beach is some giant rubbish tip. I know this is where most of the stuff in the lower dunes close to the high tide mark comes from. This is the source of all those sandwiches and drink bottles. This is what upsets me the most.
But I want my beach walks to be enjoyable, not infuriating, so eventually I realised what had to happen: the rubbish needed to be gone. If I was annoyed by a discarded drink bottle today, it would still be there, and equally annoying, tomorrow and the next day and the next. And since no-one was going to take it away I also realised it was up to me.
Now I carry a plastic supermarket bag with me, and sometimes a loose fitting disposable plastic glove. As I walk along I pick up anything that fits in the bag then take it home to the rubbish bin. I walk the dogs on the beach most days, and most days I pick up rubbish. They’re only little dogs who can’t handle too much exercise, so most walks are less than an hour long. Each day I fill a bag with rubbish.
Until the other day, that is. The other day the bag came home only half full.
What a triumph.
But then, it’s autumn now and our slightly remote beach has fewer visitors outside the summer months. The peak visitor and rubbish months have passed for the moment. I guess in winter the tide of rubbish will reach its lowest ebb. I’d better start stocking up on rubbish bags for next summer.