The Launch of BeachLabs.org

Monday morning around 7:45 am, as always, I dropped my daughter off at Palm Beach Public. I had already started on the BeachLabs.org website so on my way home I stopped at the Municipal Beach to get some ideas for our launch and this blog post.

For anyone not familiar there are two public beaches in Palm Beach. There is Phipps Ocean Park, just south of Sloans Curve, and the Municipal Beach, in the center of the island; which runs approximately seven blocks from just north of Royal Palm Way to just south of Gulfstream Road right in front of the site of the old Charley’s Crab.

Every time I am at the beach I always pick up garbage. In the last week or so, after making the decision to launch Beach Labs, my sensitivity to the amount of garbage seems enhanced like Peter Parker.

Unfortunately, while walking along Ocean Blvd and then onto the beach this is what I saw:

While exiting the beach, at the south end, there was a man and a woman who had just finished their morning workout. I assumed they were a couple. They had observed me taking photos on the beach. Then while taking the photo of the broken wall at the bottom of the stairs the women said to me, “I hope you send these pictures to the town because our beaches are totally disgusting.” I had told her that I had a not-for-profit called BeachLabs.org and that was exactly what I was doing. I was delighted as she went into a rant about the taxes we pay and how this is unacceptable. The gentlemen was nodding his head in agreement. They definitely shared my feelings.

After seeing plastic bottles and other garbage being left on the beach the thing that stood out most to me was the overflowing trash cans and the lack of effectively using recycle bins. Below is a map outlining the beach and highlighting the placement of trash cans and recycle bins. As you’ll notice in the guide, in the bottom left of the image, the black dots are trash cans and the blue dots are recycle bins, the green vertical line indicates a beach entrance.

I commend the city on placing 16 trash cans along the beach. But still there are no trash cans on the beach and only 4 recycle bins. Furthermore the use of the recycle bins seems totally confusing. Notice in the image below the instructions on the recycle bin say, “NO GARBAGE / NO PLASTIC BAGS.” Obviously people are not paying any attention to what it says on the bin.

What does that wording even mean? Does that mean that this recycle bin is for glass only? If so, why doesn’t it just say “GLASS BOTTLES ONLY.” Am I the only one totally confused by this? Take a hint from Publix who does a very effective job at recycling. When entering every Publix you will see the following clearly marked bins alongside regular trash cans:

In a perfect world I would assume there should also be separate bins for cans and glass bottles. One of the first things I am going to do is speak with the people that do the recycling for the town and get a full understanding of where the garbage goes and how it is split up. Clearly from my photos 4 poorly marked recycle bins is not enough.

I purposefully did not mention the mats of sargassum seaweed that have been covering our beaches because at some level the seaweed is beneficial to the environment and is part of a natural cycle.  Certainly the plastic mixed into the seaweed needs to be cleaned up.

My takeaway from this post is that the need for the community to come together and clean up our beaches is not an option but rather a drop dead necessity. This is a pursuit we are committed to taking on at Beach Labs.

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