If you’ve been living under a rock or perhaps down in Magnolia where they pretty much only have dialup internet or WebTV, you may not know that awhile ago I started working as the Social Media Manager over at Ocean Alliance. It’s been a really, really meaningful and fun experience (with a bonus trip to LA for myself and Jim on a Flying Car/Clam/Ocean Alliance SUPER DRONE PROJECT OF AWESOME), and I get to work in one of the most beautifully historic spots in Gloucester – the Tarr and Wonson Paint Factory out on the edge of Rocky Neck.
If you don’t know what’s up at the Paint Factory – listen up. Gather your children and elders, and listen to this tale, my friends. You know how everyone in this town likes to save old buildings? Like a terribly built piece of crap school we have little use for? Ocean Alliance is working to save the old, ramshackle, polluted-as-f*ck Paint Factory (oh so polluted). One of the smaller buildings is fully restored as our company’s headquarters, and others have begun the transformation into an oceanographic research institute that will be open to the public, with an educational component – and (our favorite because nerds) a STEM-heavy robotics lab. A lot of the project is finding funding to complete parts of the building, but there’s always work and plans going on, even if you can’t see them. If you like to fund cool things, donate a little bit – it goes a long dang way and most of it stays here in town.
And it’s not like that’s the only goal of Ocean Alliance, to save the Paint Factory from eventually crumbling into the sea. It’s way, way deeper than that. These folks have sailed around the world in the name of Ocean Conservation and toxicology testing, and are heavily invested in the science behind advocating for our oceans and marine mammals. They’ve spent five years in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, documenting and testing. They provided the toxicology testing and data for the movie The Cove. Stuff that matters. I started off not knowing much about either whales or ocean conservation when I got here, but now I’m becoming one of those Really Big Environmental Dicks. It happened really quickly and I don’t know who I am anymore.
What this all leads me to is that tomorrow is World Oceans Day, and I want to share with you all the insane stuff I’ve learned in just a few short months, and also things we can do to make sure the ocean keeps doing its thing. This is Gloucester – we are tied to the ocean, it is our reason for being. Every one of us is linked to it. We need it, it needs us – to protect it from a hell of a lot of crap.
1. For the love of god and all that is holy, stop releasing balloons into the freakin’ air. I remember this being a bad idea when I was a kid, and it’s still a terrible idea now. They come back down into the ocean and are mistaken for food and kill wildlife. The ribbons bind up birds and ocean life alike. The worst part is that some companies tout a “biodegradable” balloon, but it’s false advertising so people feel good and buy the stupid balloon, but it takes far too long to “biodegrade”, and animals still eat them or get caught in them. Marketing fail, jerks.
2. Stop using those damn face scrubs with microbeads. I am guilty of having done this Before I Knew. I still have a travel-sized one on my dresser, mocking me. The truth is, those microbeads are awful. Ocean plastic pollution is terrifying and not only is it going to be impossible and mind-bogglingly expensive to try to clean up, but it’s going to decimate marine species in ways we can’t take back.
3. God damnit, ride a bike or walk somewhere. Again, guilty – I drive an old-ass SUV as an on-island car these days so I’m trying to do better, as well. But our drilling practices really do a number on animals with acoustical sensitivities. We’re really messing up the ocean with this. A deaf whale is a dead whale, and so many species are still endangered. Cool, we can drive places for cheap. We’re just, you know, giant jerks to the rest of the planet. Ugh. And you know, oil spills.
4. Spend a little time cleaning up. Clean Gloucester and the One Hour at a Time Gang are two local groups that meet pretty much weekly to clean shorelines, marshes, parking lots, and pretty much all the trash people in this city dump in stupid places. Think about that – on Saturday mornings while most of us laze around in our underwear, these folks (including the dedicated staffers at Ocean Alliance) are cleaning up the gatorade bottles and empty nips other people toss into the gutter like the garbage humans they are. You spend an hour cleaning up, and you’re going to feel amazing about having done something instead of internet slacktivism.
Thanks for listening to my sanctimonious diatribe, Clammers. Basically, don’t be a jerk to the ocean, or an angry kraken will come to shore and eat your family and all the steak in your fridge. Let’s avoid that.
Because of my reading about microbeads, I now use bar soap and Colgate toothpaste, having web searched for the microbead-less paste. I’ve never released a balloon on my life and I pick up rubbish in my local area – however, it feels like a losing battle, my neighbors don’t care and, I suspect, snicker behind my back to see an 83 years old with a cane and a grabber ( for the trash) – but I sleep well.
It would be helpful to see a list of products containing microbeads. I have no idea whether the Arm and Hammer toothpastes use them, for example. Been using them for years. Bad me? (Bad us?)
Another great post, KT. Thank you.
This just reminded me I have yellow bags in my car for a Lanesville neighborhood cleanup! Aw,snap to it!
We do a street/beach/parking lot clean up in East Gloucester a couple times a year, just the two of us, but we feel it makes a difference. Our problem is where to put the stuff that we can’t put in the recycle bins (we use fish totes we find on the beach for those). Anyone know where we can dump the other trash? No garbage dump/transfer station in Gloucester.