Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wrapping Things Up

It was on New Year’s Eve back in 2007 that I created this blog and the name “Trashpaddler”.  My efforts at that time were primarily focused on the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord rivers.  Over the ensuing decade I ventured out further, trashpaddling many additional waterways and tending to my blog faithfully.  Now, I feel the time has come to wrap things up and accordingly this will be my last post (though I will leave the blog online for awhile).  Readers of a superstitious nature may appreciate my efforts to post exactly seven times for each month of 2017, thus finishing with "lucky sevens" all around!

Through my trashpaddling activities I’ve learned that waterways are anything but static places and the trash too often found within them demonstrates this quite clearly.  The trash I encounter in our waterways these days is a reflection of our on-the-go daily existence.  In my opinion, it shows we’re short-sighted creatures too often placing convenience and low-cost over all else.  Consequently, it seems we're best guided into doing what’s right for our environment through our wallets; to keep something detrimental from getting into the environment it helps to provide a monetary incentive.  Additionally, if we want to get something detrimental out of the environment the same monetary incentive helps to make that happen.  That was the genius behind the container deposit systems.  Deposit systems aren’t anything new…they go back to early milk, soda, and beer bottles, and I sure as heck don’t remember anyone thinking of deposits as a "tax" back then.  Deposit systems still apply today to beer kegs and five- gallon plastic water bottles.  The owners of those containers want them back to avoid the cost of having to replace them.  Of course for today’s single-use plastic containers it’s not so much the avoided replacement cost, but rather conserving the resources used in making them and, further down the line, helping to insure we don’t end up ingesting them… after they’ve disintegrated and entered the food chain.

Hopeful signs of a possible sea-change?  The Town of Concord, Massachusetts voted to prohibit the sale of single-use plastic water bottles (less than one-liter).  Then there's a recent report on the Container Recycling Institute site that one of the world’s largest beverage manufacturers, Coca-Cola, indicated it may be open to a deposit system for its plastic containers in the UK.  And, most recently, the announcement that the city of Boston has decided to join a growing list of cities in banning single-use plastic bags. 

Having this month shared my top five most memorable trash patrols (over the life of this blog), I'd like to share my favorite from 2017.  It took me out of New England (proper) and into the Empire State where the Hudson River Highlands were waiting to amaze me.  I’d read Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick and was compelled to paddle some of the escape-by-water route Benedict Arnold took when he realized the gig was up:  “Want To Get Away?”

With my blog (in its virtual form) winding down I decided to preserve it in a more tangible form by condensing it into a “blook”, and found the process of doing so quite interesting.  I chose one of those self-publishing sites and after much trial and error ended up with something resembling a book.  It started out black and white on basic paper and ended up in color on 200 pages of photo-quality paper.  Consequently the cost went from negligible to requiring a small fortune.  It now graces the shelves where the rest of my waterway relics reside…

Many thanks and good wishes to those folks who've “followed”, read, commented on, or taken inspiration from this blog. The same also to those whom I was privileged to meet in person and in many cases paddled with over the past ten years.  Many have their own blogs which I’ll look forward to following in the future.  Hope to see you out on the water as it's my intention to continue paddling and, of course, braking for trash encountered along the way.  Happy New Year and may the water always rise to meet your paddle!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Memorable Trash Patrol # 1

My most memorable trash patrol of the past 10 years happened on a spectacular Sunday in June 2014.  Paddling that day with friends visiting from out of town we were seeing an old seaport from perhaps its best possible vantage point...the water.  I believe we all came away from the experience believing the port could never have looked better than it did that day.  The post from that Sunday in June is here.

While I'm mentioning my all time favorite post I should also acknowledge the apparent favorite of those who've visited this blog according to Google's stats. Like my favorite, it was also a coastal paddle in the month of June.  The day was a scorcha'. A fitting post for a cold day in December is here.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Memorable Trash Patrol # 2

When paddling a river as it approaches the open ocean, one can see how fast the opportunity for recovering plastic flotsam may be lost.  In May of 2013 I paddled to an island in the Merrimack River situated about 3.5 miles from the river's mouth.  More than any other trash patrol, this one demonstrated to me the long, slow, and steady migration plastic trash undertakes on its way to the sea.

To visit the post click here.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Memorable Trash Patrol # 3

One thing I've learned over the past ten years is that each waterway has a story to tell about the role it played in human history.  Waterways were used in exploration, trade, and strategically in warfare...especially so in King Philip's War and the American Revolution.  Most of the stories from those conflicts are lacking in details.  However, the evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga by American forces on July 6, 1777 was an exception thanks to the notes kept by James Thacher, M.D.  Reading Thacher's notes compelled me in June 2016 to retrace their escape route.  Paddling in their wake I could imagine them taking a leisurely pace while believing the floating chain barrier behind them would delay their pursuers.  They were mistaken.
The post.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Memorable Trash Patrol # 4

Used beverage containers comprise the majority of the trash I encounter when paddling waterways.  For the most part they're unwanted by any and all.  After adopting them I do my best to see that they're recycled whenever possible.  Back in February of 2012 I encountered a rare beverage container that the manufacturer actually valued and wanted back.  It was a two post affair:
Part one.

Part two.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Memorable Trash Patrol # 5

Looking back over the past ten years and more than 1100 posts of this blog I've put together a compilation of my most memorable experiences and called it "My Trashpaddlin' Days".  Of the many encounters I've had with wildlife while trashpaddling, one in particular was my hands-down favorite.
It occurred on a quiet Sunday morning in October of 2009.  I was paddling upstream on the Assabet River in Concord, MA and had just passed beneath the Route 2 bridge near the Concord Reformatory.  Looking ahead I saw in the distance an animal so unlikely to be seen around these parts that I felt surprise and disbelief simultaneously.  As I slowly paddled closer those feelings were soon replaced with exhilaration as the encounter took on a mano a mano character.

Herewith the post:

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Festive Fairhaven

This December marks the tenth anniversary of this blog, and yesterday a small Xmas tree helped in creating a festive atmosphere, as I paddled the Sudbury River from Egg Rock up to Fairhaven Bay.

En route I paddled under a tranquil Nashawtuc Road bridge...

At Clamshell Bank some red berries seemed to be hiding amidst a sea of phragmites...

Approaching Fairhaven Bay I encountered 3 boats of fishermen...

Another 3 boats were in the bay proper along with a few a last fling before the bay starts icing over!

Went ashore on Brooks Island and enjoyed some hot cocoa while reflecting back on these past ten years.  I hope to share some of my favorite "trashpaddling" experiences in future December posts.

The trip's trash amounted to a small haul...
...but did include a Kmart plastic bag announcing "Life is ridiculously AWESOME".   Hmmm.