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!