EASTHAM — The Eastham Conservation Foundation celebrated Earth Day a week early on April 16 with its fourth annual Earth Day Great Marsh Cleanup. And clean up they did, with a crew of 10 volunteers pulling over 440 pounds of trash and 1,300 pounds of wood, metal, and tires from the marsh.
Cleanups over the previous three years had already removed more than 1.8 tons of trash and about a dozen tires. Saturday’s efforts added another 28 tires to that total. The group left behind a couple more that are still buried in the marsh. “We’ll get them eventually,” said foundation president Henry Lind on Monday. “They’re not going anywhere.”
Lind explained that tires and other debris on the surface of the marsh cuts off light, preventing marsh plants from growing.
Volunteers also focused on collecting even the tiniest pieces of plastic. “Pieces of plastic break down into smaller and smaller pieces and eventually become microplastics,” said Lind. “An inch-square piece of plastic will be broken down in sunlight and seawater and the mashing of the wave action.
“Filter feeders such as shellfish and shrimp are actually eating these tiny pieces of plastic,” said Lind. “We’re eating the same stuff as well. When you eat an oyster, there’s a certain percentage of microplastic in it.” —Linda Culhane