Thursday, February 20, 2014

From Beachside Trash to Holiday Treasure

A vibrantly successful Long Island Sound shoreline cleanup takes an unconventional recycling twist through the efforts of eager Greenport School fourth graders and local artist Cindy Pease Roe 

On the morning of Tuesday, November 19th, forty fourth graders and a handful of brave chaperones leapt off of a Greenport School bus and onto a gusty seashore at Truman’s Beach in Orient, NY. Using Rozalia Project’s marine debris record sheets, the students happily battled the beachside winds as they removed over 600 pieces of unnatural materials from one of their favorite summer spots. A sopping wet pillow and three dead rats in a plastic gallon jug later, the job was far from done. 

This second annual Greenport School beach cleanup was developed by local artist Cindy Pease Roe who has made her mark on the north fork of Long Island through all mediums of her creative genius within her studio that is tucked inside historic Hanff’s Boatyard in Greenport. Most recently, though, Roe has expanded her talent by transforming her personal collection of shoreline plastics into unique art forms. That is where the kids come in. 

When the data-filled clipboards were collected, and the heaping bags of marine debris gathered, the rubbish party reconfigured at Floyd Memorial Library for color sorting. As tables erupted with blue bottle caps, a yellow yo-yo, tarnished green rope and the like, the room buzzed with imaginative angst for what was to come. The students’ field trip continued the next morning when they joined Roe once again to craft holiday wreaths with their discovered, sorted and recorded materials. Afterward, these animated decorations were on display throughout Greenport School, decking the halls but also bringing awareness to a deeper truth. 

Of the nearly 650 pieces of recorded marine debris found, the most frequently occurring material was caps, lids and bottle tops, with 119 pieces recovered. In second was rope, coming in at 77 pieces, and third was plastic bottles, totaling 45. As most of Rozalia Project’s collected data has shown, our shores and waters are battling preventable pollutants. 40 fourth graders on Long Island shared these facts with their schoolmates and community through marine trash art; how will you encourage preventative action? 

This blog post is from 2013 intern, Kaleigh Wilson, a graduate of Roger Williams University. We asked Kaleigh to join Cindy and the Greenport students last fall to represent Rozalia Project and add an element of science and data collection to the excellent pickup and artwork that was already being done. We are grateful to Kaleigh for stepping up to participate and write this great report. In addition, Newsday Magazine published some articles about this event:

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