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Save 10 Movement PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shawn Tracht   
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 23:43

Save 10 Movement

Story and Photos by Shawn Tracht

Cool waves hitting the inside sandbar, friends on the beach walking to and fro after a good session, and a group of pretty girls sunbathing in teeny bikinis and surrounded by old wet trash. Smiling, waving, and calling the boys over, something is detracting from their beauty on this warm California day.

It’s the plastic water bottles, Styrofoam yogurt dishes, cheeseburger wrappers, baby wipes, cigarette butts, and the uber-inventive milk-shake spoon straws that are half-buried in the sand all around them and lining the beach as far as the eye can see.

Like what you see?

As the day goes on, surfer boys come and go, and though disgusted by this nuisance of trash, not one of them bends down to pick it up. “Yo, bro, that’s gross! I didn’t litter and put that trash there, and I shouldn’t have to pick it up,” many of them say. “Eeww!  Gross,” the girls shout in their best valley-girl vernacular tone, “I’m not touching that trash.”  Yet they continue to lie within it.  

The Problem
In the middle of the deep Pacific, islands of trash, in what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, float, sort of, in a vast collection of trash that’s said to be twice the size of Texas. Cleanwateraction.org, an organization that’s been fighting for clean water for 40 years, wrote an article titled “Want to Solve Marine Debris? Change the 3Rs to the 3Ps.” It stated that, “marine debris is primarily comprised of convenience food packaging and single use disposable products—products the plastics and packaging industry believe we can’t live without. Plastic makes up 60 to 80% of marine debris (in some places it is as high as 90 to 95%) and the ratio of plastic to plankton floating on the ocean surface in the Pacific Gyre is 64:1 (by weight).”

So what happens to all that trash that we decide not to pick up on a daily basis?

Author and biogeographer David M. Lawrence voyaged out to the North Pacific Gyre and found that most of the plastic that he picked up was tiny, widely dispersed and invisible to the naked eye. Lawrence wrote, “the truth might actually be worse and far more insidious. Compared to a big mound of trash, for one thing, it’s impossible to clean up tons of tiny and widespread specks of plastic. You can’t just scoop them up.”

Ultimately, the scariest threat of this plastic pollution is its health risk to the entire food chain, us humans being at the top. Fish and birds easily mistake these specks of plastic for plankton. Just type in “plastic pollution” or “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch” into Google, and you’ll find appalling pictures of birds and fish found dead and filled with plastic that they had mistaken for plankton and other food.

So what do we do? 

Bring Forward the Save 10 Movement
Now in the past, I, as much as anybody, have been guilty when it came to trash clean up on the beach and of not lending a hand when the beach and ocean needed me to do. Consequently, I want to speak honestly about the hurdles that I jumped in regards to picking up the trash on the beach on a daily basis, as well as how I’ve overcome the excuses. Until a couple years ago when I began a personal quest to “Save 10,” the three biggest setbacks for me were:
1. It’s gross. 
2. The trash isn’t mine.
3. I shouldn’t have to pick it up.

However, daily, that didn’t do any good.

I am also guilty of missing my fair share of beach cleanups during the year. I always had something else going on. Excuses: We were going out of town. I had to be somewhere else. I only had so much time to surf, so I couldn’t make it to the clean up that day.


After years of non-action in defense of the ocean that I love, I knew that I needed to grow up. I needed to challenge myself to something that was attainable. I also needed to make a difference to help the ocean myself before I had a right to expect others to do it.

Thus was born “Save 10.” With the idea that goals set at attainable levels are those we follow through with, I began a mission to just “Save 10” pieces of trash from going in the water each time I was at the beach. 
Now, if you pick up your 10 pieces of trash after the fourth of July or any holiday celebrated at the beach, your will may still be a bit weak, and your 10 item pickup may seem quasi-useless. But you know, if we all began to just “Save 10” each time we surfed, it would add up.

That may seem idealistic, but when movements are born and believed in, they become social very quickly—they go viral. An easy way to change the trash climate on the beach is to make it cool to clean up by saving 10 rather than doing nothing at all. We don’t have to yell at each other, fight, or get upset. Just leading by example could spawn a social movement. It could become the new cool for what’s expected of a surfer.
To learn more and share your stories, go to www.surfwanderer.com.