A: A majority of the trash I find is years, if not decades, old. I have found the 2 liter soda bottles with metal caps to prove it! Based on my efforts, the amount of old stuff is slowly diminishing. However, I am finding more fresh trash each day. I can't say for certain, but I feel like it has something to do with the crowds of people currently flooding the shorelines on nice days.
A: Just a bunch of trash. (This either earns me a blank stare or appreciative gratitude)
(I stopped trying to guess… but there really is only one simple answer, people.)
A: I’ve only fallen in twice since starting SUP Garbage Man.
The first time, my fin hit something as I was paddling away from shore. It stopped the board and I kept going, right off the side. Thankfully it was summer and the water was only waist deep.
The second time was when I was attempting a #TrashYogaTuesday pose. Haha! I was in Warrior Three pose (standing on one foot and bent over at the waist. My arms out to the side like an airplane and my other leg straight back). As I was putting my lifted foot back down on the board it hit my crate and startled me. I ended up diving off of the side. I knew this was a risky pose and only did it in the summer time and where I knew the water was clean!
All in all, I usually reduce my chances of falling in by going where there is minimal boat traffic and the water is calm. It’s not that I don’t want to get wet, it’s more about not wanting to dump all of the trash back into the water.
A: A vial of blood. Yes, that's right. A vial used by a phlebotomist when drawing your blood. And yes, the vial DID have blood in it. There were no identifying markings. Before finding the vial of blood, which was...well, vile, I was most surprised by the amount (and quantities) of large items I find. For example, I was stunned to find an IV bag when I first began SUP Garbage Man...but I was more surprised by the second and third ones. Yep, I've found 3 IV bags in the river.
Here are some noteworthy items I've found since the beginning:
(quantity is in parentheses)
Treasure chest...yep, see above (1), vial of blood (1), medical boot (1), pregnancy test (1), IV bags (3), bottles of pills (3), a pair of plastic breasts (1), a fire hose (1), tires (32), boat fenders/bumpers (15), plastic barrels (20), trash cans (15), construction barrels (12), traffic cones (4), hard hats (5), 5-gallon water cooler jugs (2), fire extinguishers (4), life jackets (9), rat poison traps (6), wheelbarrows (3), river inner tubes (2), buckets (50), oil drain pans (2), plastic lawn furniture various states of broken (31), chunks of floating dock (5), toilet parts (seat and 3 of the floating mechanisms from the tank) roll of plastic fencing (3), gas cans (6), stuffed animals (11), milk crates (11), coolers (5), mop buckets (2), cat carrier (1), large roller suitcase (1), skateboard (1), drone (1), bag of fish fillets (1), picnic table support leg (1), stop sign (1), garden hose (1), toboggan (1), sailboat rudder (1), and a keg (1).
I've also found countless: containers of used motor oil, traffic cones, large chunks of styrofoam, small camping propane tanks, toys, sports balls (football, basketball, tennis balls, street hockey balls, kickballs, etc), and packing material.
Other “strange” items include: a skull from a Halloween skeleton (2), plastic and wooden adirondack chairs (countless), a fridge door, BBQ grill, a bra, aquarium rock, folding table, cowboy hat, snow shovel, countless large pieces of resin lawn chairs, a plunger, a seven-foot styrofoam log, a shopping cart, a small kids’ slide, stroller, and much more. It is baffling how some of these things end up in the river.
This is all in addition to the "normal" trash and plastic bottles/bags.
A: No, not exactly. I usually end up on the shore up or down river from my launch point. A typical paddling and picking session goes as follows: I start by paddling up to 2 miles and scan the shoreline for visible collection points. Depending on a host of factors (wind, weather, tides, the time I have available, etc.), I’ll make a real time decision on where to pull up on shore. I focus my efforts on pieces of shoreline that are not easily accessed via land. I’ll clean for about 30-40 minutes (maybe longer depending on what I’m finding and if I have time). Once my crates are full, I’ll begin paddling back to my launch point.
The way I look at it is that the water and tides brought the trash to the shore...and will take it away again. However, there are days where I have filled the board with only items I’ve pulled out of the water. On those days there is so much trash floating along with an incoming or outgoing tide that I never go to the shore.
I typically bring everything home and do a rudimentary sort as I unload the truck. I separate out clean items that can be recycled, items I can re-purpose, and chemicals like starter fluid, motor oil, spray paint, insect spray, etc. I’ll bring the recyclables to community drop off points and set aside the chemicals until I have enough to make a run to the appropriate facilities. Anything that can be re-purposed sits in our carport until needed. The rest ends up going in the trash. Since most of what I find can be considered residential waste, I just fill up our county trash can for weekly pick up. Some of my neighbors have even let me add to their county cans when I have too much for ours.
A: I first started SUP Garbage Man in May 2019 after I found a to-go container floating in the middle of the river. I picked it up and put it on my board like many items I’ve found before. And then, as I was paddling in, I came across a floating collection of trash...I grabbed what I knew would stay on my board, but knew something had to be done. The next day, determined to grab more than a couple items, I brought a milk crate and trash grabber stick. It wasn’t long before I filled the milk crate with trash. The next morning, I brought two milk crates...and filled them both up....and then something clicked. I knew I needed to document this somehow to raise awareness. And that is when SUP Garbage Man was born. I wanted to show the world what is in our waterways in hopes that maybe I might inspire one other person to pick up trash, or reconsider using a straw, or recycle more, etc.
A: Simple, if you are out on the water and you see a piece of trash, grab it, throw it on your board, and put it in the trash or recycling when you get back to shore. Maybe grab that water bottle or plastic bag rolling across the parking lot at the store and drop it in the can at the door. That’s it, it's that easy. Every piece counts and could save an animal’s life. If we all grab enough pieces wherever we are, then we can start to really make an impact.
Of course, donations are always appreciated. More info here.