Tired of trash at Mansfield Cut? Pitch in at Saturday’s cleanup

A cleanup of Port Mansfield Cut is set for Saturday. Photo courtesy Kathie and Miller Bassler

A few months ago, I spent a long weekend camping at Mansfield Cut along the Texas Coast.

We pitched tents in the sand, fished and surfed along the channel between North and South Padre Islands. I loved the place, but couldn’t believe the quantity of trash that littered the dunes and filled every crevice of the jetty.

So I’m happy to make note of an upcoming beach cleanup organized by Miller and Kathie Bassler of Rockdale.

Volunteers have hauled off as much as 25 tons of trash during the annual cleanup. Photo courtesy Kathie and Miller Bassler

The 10th annual Port Mansfield Beach & Cut Clean UP, rescheduled from March due to weather, is set for Aug. 11. In past years, volunteers have collected as much as 25 tons of trash at the event.

To participate, report to the Port Mansfield Chamber of Commerce pavilion for signup at 6:30 a.m. After a safety briefing and breakfast, you’ll get your assignment for which area to clean. Volunteers get a free T-shirt, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Boats, captains and workers are needed, and out-of-town participants can get free lodging if they notify Kathie at kathieb@basslerenergyservices.com by Aug. 6.

Boats and volunteers are needed for the cleanup. Photo courtesy Miller and Kathie Bassler

The Basslers started the cleanup in 2009 after arriving at the usually pristine Padre Island National Seashore and finding it trashed in the aftermath of Hurricanes Ike and Dolly. Their efforts have earned recognition from Field & Stream Magazine, the Coastal Conservation Association and others.

“We have gathered as much as 25 tons, cleaned up to 5 miles of Padre Island National Shoreline and relieved the jetty trap of thousands of plastic bottles, while also picking up the banks of the Mansfield Channel on the 15-mile journey from port to the island,” Miller Bassler says.

Tons of trash collects on the beach and between the boulders at the jetty each year. Photo courtesy Miller and Kathie Bassler

For more information email miller@basslerenergyservices.com or kathieb@basslerenergyservices.com.

A litter-covered beach in Costa Rica is making me break up with single-use plastic

Most days, the beaches looked pristine. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

I’m trying to break up with single-use plastic. You should too.

Last month, on the first day of a surf camp I attended in southern Costa Rica, I woke up early and walked across the street, only to discover a sort of confetti stretching for miles down the beach. Pulverized bits of plastic – red, blue, yellow and white chips the size of your smallest fingernail – covered the the sand in swirls. Waves had washed the chips up with the surf, leaving behind a kind of litter mosaic.

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I love the “Take 3 for the Sea” movement that encourages surfers – and anyone, really – to pick up three pieces of trash every time they go to the ocean. But the fragments on the Costa Rican beach that day were far too numerous and far too tiny to easily cart away.

One day, pulverized bits of plastic washed up all over the beach where I stayed in Costa Rica. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

The next day, the plastic had washed back out to sea (where fish and dolphins and rays and lobsters wallowed in it, no doubt), but the image stuck in my mind. It made me feel hopeless about the massive quantities of plastic funneling into the world’s oceans.

Our plastic use seems to be increasing. Have you seen all the new products at the grocery store? Pre-packaged servings of crackers, cheese and sausage. Plastic tubs of hummus. Plastic bottles of water. Single-serving containers of olives, applesauce, yogurt and cookies, plastic utensils, baggies, straws, disposable plates and more.

All those products eventually wind up in the landfill, or blowing down a highway someplace, where they ultimately break into smaller and smaller pieces and slowly  make their way to our oceans.

We’re beholden to convenience. But I’m tired of it. We don’t have to be this way.

I’m drawing a line in the sand – that Costa Rican sand – so to speak. I’m determined to reduce my consumption of single-use plastics.

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I know sometimes it’s unavoidable to use these products. But usually it’s just as easy to fill your own glass with water, dole out your own serving from the applesauce jar, or tuck a snack into a reusable plastic tub to transport to the office.

I’m doubling down on my efforts. Please join me. And share your tips here.