Alameda Beaches: No Plastic Wanted


Crown Memorial Beach is an Alameda treasure.

Sometimes, especially during the summer, there are a few too many non-gold “coins” floating around in the water and throughout the sand.

All the metal soda and juice containers, plastic bottles, cigarette butts and other items — trash — ends up in the beach and eventually out in the Pacific Ocean. And one Bay Area-based organization is working to understand and address this issue: Project Kaisei.

On Tuesday, August 10, the documentary film “Project Kaisei: Capturing the Plastic Vortex” was shown in San Francisco at George Lucas’ Letterman Digital Arts Center. One of the scenes, an interview with the Kaisei founder Mary Crowley, was even filmed along the estuary in Alameda near Grand Marina and across from Coast Guard Island.  

The project, which gets its name from the Japanese word for ocean planet, aims to study and hopefully remove plastic and marine debris now concentrated in the North Pacific Gyre (two times the size of Texas!).

The group also works to educate the public about the need to prevent plastics from entering our water system and the importance of cutting down on our use of plastics, especially non-biodegradable plastics.

“Every year over 260 million tons of plastic are produced, much of it for one-time use and less than 5% of the world’s plastics are recycled. National Geographic estimates that over 85 million plastic bottles are used every three minutes. In many cases, plastic waste that is not incinerated or land-filled makes its way to the oceans,” according to Project Kaisei.

“Currently there are no proposed solutions to resolve the issue of removal of marine debris floating in the oceans. Most believe it is not possible to clean such a vast region, and aim for more responsible handling of waste on shore,” says the group.

“Using advanced technology, however, Project Kaisei will test existing technologies to learn if debris collected in the Plastic Vortex can be detoxified and processed into fuel via a patented technology that is now just beginning operations in a number of countries,” it explains.

This afternoon on Crown Beach, this blogger collected about 10 cigarette butts, six pieces of styrofoam, five plastic bags, four paper McDonald’s cups, four straws, two plastic McDonald’s cups,  two cigar holders and one plastic bottle cap. 

Keeping in mind that the plastic out in the Pacific can originate in Alameda, we can begin to address this problem by putting trash in bins as much as possible and not letting plastics into the storm drains.

We also can get ready for the California Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 25 — or get down to the beach for a walk and a bit of tending before then, if possible.  And, as Project Kaisei stresses, we can use less plastic, a convenient but highly polluting material.

Janet Levaux

  • http://www.paragonfinancial.net/ EricaJ

    Any time I read anything about the Plastic Vortex in the Pacific, I feel personally helpless and depressed. Then I remember what I can do as one person in my own home and community, and I feel a bit better. Thanks for posting about this and about the Cleanup Day coming up.