The Plastic Challenge

P1010839 (1280x960) Many of my non-boating friends are outdoors enthusiasts of some sort and most outdoors enthusiasts (I hope) make it a practice to pack out all of their own trash and a piece or two of someone else's. When hiking I would always grab other trash and pack it out (within reason), in part because I wanted to keep the forest clean, but also in part because I realize that it is surprisingly easy to litter on accident – things fall out of your pocket, or blow away, etc.

Similarly I think there are two kinds of boaters: the kind that has littered on accident by losing a few things overboard…and those who lie ;)

On a boat, on an extended cruise, I’ve had more difficulty adopting my practice of packing out some communal trash. Reason #1: There is soooo much plastic trash lying around that I feel overwhelmed. Reason #2: Because we tend to stay remote as long as possible, we have to carry our trash around for a long period of time and stowing it becomes an issue.

I recently read in a BC magazine that they estimate that half of the plastic trash on BC’s beaches is industrial but half is from, yes, you guessed it, “recreational marine users”. Ahem. That’s *us* kids.

What I have decided to do is to commit to something simple, that we can manage aboard, but that hopefully covers at least our own accidental littering (if and when it happens despite our best efforts), if not covering some of the accumulation as well.

The Plastic Challenge: In every anchorage, if we go ashore, I pick up a single plastic item and carry it back to the boat to join our trash.

Simple, huh? Not that difficult to adopt, huh? So…I double dog dare you.

The picture above is my “Copeland Island Trash”.


  1. We are currently in Antigua and and been astounded by the amount of plastic trash we've seen from the Bahamas on south. Much, as you have said is from recreational boaters -- but on the Eastern beaches of the islands we have found huge amounts of industrial trash, such as hundreds of hard hats, washed ashore. I'll join you in your efforts -- but more needs to be done.

  2. This changes the way I think about trash. I've always assumed people littered on purpose, but now that I think about it, I'm sure you're right--a lot of it is unintentional. Either way, I think your plan is a great one--I will look for ways to do the same.

  3. Thanks for another excellent and thoughtful post. I also try to pack out some additional trash when hiking but the space issue on the boat is definitely an issue. I accept your dare: Henceforth every anchorage (or state park/island with a dock) I visit shall have (at least) one less piece of plastic rubbish on it when I leave.

  4. Great idea and we will start this practice ourselves! It is our responsibility to not only enjoy this beautiful world but do our best to maintain it!

  5. I really like this idea. It's not much, but it is not nothing, and at least it will help me make up for the "oh, shoot, there goes the X!" experience.

    So I'll be joining you in trash-picking the Strait this summer, and with any luck further afield in a few years!

  6. Delighted to have people join us. Dee-lighted.

    Reporting back: I have to say that Desolation Sound is delightfully clean. I've found plastic on every landfall but not the tons that we see in other places. Still at it...



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