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.
Here are some noteworthy items I've found since the beginning: (quantity is in parentheses)
A vial of blood--yep, you read that right (1), full bottle of bleach (1), bottle of canine COVID vaccine (1), toilet from boat or RV (1), medical boot (1), motorcycle seat (1), pregnancy test (1), IV bags (3), treasure chest...see pic above (1), bottles of pills (4), a pair of plastic breasts (1), fire hoses (2), a drone (1), bag of fish filets (1), rifle case (1), Rubik’s cube (1), storage bin full of tools (1), vacuum hose (1), golf cart roof (1), chaise lounge chair (full) (1), couch (full) (1), 8 track cassette (1)
Other Notable Finds
Aquarium rock (1), 5-gallon water cooler jugs (2), BBQ grill (2), bike helmets (4), birdhouse (1), BlueTooth speakers (2), boat fenders/bumpers (24), boogie board (2), full bottles of food (6+), buckets (74), car headlight (1), Christmas wreath (1), cat carrier (1), construction barrels (17), coolers (12), cowboy hat (1), dining room/office chairs (4), chunks of floating dock (5), door from chicken coop (1), exercise balls (2), fan blades (1), fire extinguishers (6), folding table-large (2), fridge door (1), garden hose (1), gas cans (8), GPS components (3), hard hats (7), kegs (2), life jackets (16), milk crates (15), mop buckets (2), oil drain pans (2), paddles (5+), plastic barrels (30), plastic tire swing (1), roll of plastic fencing (4), picnic table support leg (1), pop-up canopy frame/covers (2), plunger (1), propane tanks-large (4), rat poison traps (8), river inner tubes (2), skateboard (1), sailboat rudder (1), shopping carts (3), signal flare (1), SodaStream CO2 container (1), snow shovel (1), stop sign (1), street sign (1), stroller frame (1), stuffed animals (18), enormous styrofoam logs (4), suitcase (large roller) (1), tarps (2), tires (47), toboggan (2), toddler playground components (3), toilet parts (seat and 3 of the floating mechanisms from the tank), traffic cones (5), trash cans (large ones, full and partial) (24), undergarments (4+), washing machine agitator (1), wheelbarrow pieces and parts (5).
I've also found countless: Containers of used motor oil, small camping propane tanks, plastic lawn furniture, toys, sports balls (football, basketball, tennis balls, street hockey balls, kickballs, etc.), and plenty of packing material. This is all in addition to the "normal" trash and plastic bottles/bags.
It is baffling how some of these things end up in the river. Stay tuned on Instagram or Facebook to see what comes next...
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.