Last year 250 volunteers picked up 650 pounds of trash on Purdy Spit on World Ocean Day.
This year, on June 8, 164 volunteers did the same task, and within three hours accumulated 730 pounds of trash, an 80-pound increase with 86 fewer volunteers.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Gig Harbor resident Mandi Thorne said. “It shows the enthusiasm of the volunteers to go out and grab as much trash as possible, but it also supports my main concern that we need to start some sort of waste management system for this county park.”
The beach cleanup was a collaborative effort between Thorne, Ocean5, Harbor WildWatch, South Sound Surf Rider and Campaign Backbone to celebrate World Ocean Day and rid the Purdy Spit of waste accumulated over the year.
“We need care for ocean advocacy on these shores, and right now it’s myself and these volunteers coming out, which I think is fabulous, but I hope this inspires us to take action in our own hand,” Thorne said. “We don’t need to wait for an authority to give us the okay to take action — we are the action.”
From 1-3 p.m., people of all ages came to the beach and were given directions on where to pick up the trash.
After the cleanup, Campaign Backbone arrived to build a human-orca figure out of the volunteers.
“Once Campaign Backbone got there, they put bungee cords on the ground and put them in different shapes and then directed us to go in different areas inside the bungeed-off areas,” Thorne said. “Then there were white-and black-umbrellas to make the figure of the orca itself. It was really cool seeing every laughing and having a good time doing this together.”
She said it was low tide during the cleanup with seaweed all over, coloring the ground green.
“It was sort of a metaphor for the green-cause movement we were doing and was pretty neat,” Thorne said.
The momentum of the beach cleanup carried over to June 9 when Thorne and her company Rainier Apparel, an eco-friendly clothing line that creates clothes out of recycled material, along with South Sound Surf Rider and Wildwatch, went to Tacoma’s Ocean Fest to bring awareness to World Ocean Day and promote their ocean-conscious organizations.
The next beach cleanup will be July 5 to rid the mess historically left over from Fourth of July celebrations.
“It will be incredible to come out and witness the sort of destruction that happens within 24 hours. It’s startling, it really is,” Thorne said. “Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. I love it. But at the same time, if we are going to be a part of shooting fireworks off, then the aftermath needs to be coming out and cleaning up what happens.”
Thorne said the aftermath includes smoke still in the air and the shoreline littered with fireworks pieces, some still smoldering from the night before.
“It’s eerie,” She said.