Christmas Jingle Beach Cleanup Event
Surfrider Pacific Rim
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations Territory
Tofino, British Columbia, Canada
December 2, 2016
The Surfrider Pacific Rim Chapter led a fantastic beach clean-up in Tofino on December 1, 2016, from the 4th Street Dock down to Eik’s Landing. The area is heavily used as a docking station for many of the local commercial fishing fleets, and some personal moorage. Being at the South end of the main waterfront area, in downtown Tofino, this spot tends to trap a lot of debris and garbage that is carried by the swift currents. Last year, Surfrider focused on the North end of the waterfront area, removing loads of garbage from the 1st Street dock area. Together with the 900kg’s of garbage we cleaned up from the long beach area two weeks ago, it is clear that Surfrider Pacific Rim supports and values clean ecosystems and functional ecologies.
With about 15 volunteers, anything imaginable was collected, and we did not stop until everything, that we could remove with our hands, was cleaned up. We found former floats made of tires and styrofoam (styrofoam is one of the worst forms of pollution as it never decomposes), all sorts of plastics, cigarette butts, small and large metal objects, all sorts of food and beverage containers, old fencing, wood, old and rusty car and boat components, industrial refuse, and the list goes on.
Although Surfrider Pacific Rim is very concerned about the functional ecology and ecosystem services within this area, one of our main initiatives for doing these clean-ups is for building wider public awareness and education. Awareness of our relationship and interconnectedness with the natural world and how our actions directly impact ecologies, landscapes, and mindscapes. Education about the current state of ecology and pollution, how to make a positive difference as individuals, as citizens, and as communities.
Our efforts in relation to awareness and education can easily been understood through the theory of ‘shifting baseline syndrome.’ Essentially, shifting baseline syndrome is when the common method of measuring change within a system by comparing current states of the system to previous reference points (baselines), which themselves may represent significant changes from earlier states of the system, has an added layer of complexity via ‘shifting baselines’ or shifting reference points. In local ecosystems, this added layer is a result of a historical lack of data, as well as changing and different perceptions about nature, how we relate to nature, and how these ideas change over time. By taking part in these beach clean-up activities, and recording them, we are a part of pinning down the baseline for our own moments in history. Further, we create space within the community to literally get our hands dirty and share ideas and knowledge about how we relate to nature.
It is not our responsibility as individuals to change the way that industry operates, single-handedly. It is, however, our duty as individuals to explore our position on how we relate to nature, with curiosity, and begin to create our own baselines, becoming comfortable interacting with nature in all of its forms. If we can build a culture where people bring their own reusable bags with them on their beach walks to pick up garbage as they come across it, and spread their own words and art forms describing their experiences of relating to the natural world, we can say we have succeeded.
Today, we owe a huge Thank You to all of our volunteers, the District of Tofino, Tuff Beans, and the Surfrider Organization. Without all these actors, and many more unmentioned, simple, fun, and effective initiatives, like this, would not be possible.
On behalf of Surfrider, Pacific Rim Chapter