January has arrived, and in the thick of winter, it’s easy to picture yourself out on a beach on a remote island somewhere soaking up the warm rays of sunshine. What isn’t easy to picture is a beach full of washed up trash, which is unfortunately all too common
these days along our beautiful coastlines, as well as our local lakes, rivers and streams. Two summers ago, Sugar Creek local, Leslie Mallinson, came back to visit her family and to teach a Marine Biology and Environmental Science summer school class after spending a few years in Australia, where she spends her free time volunteering for a not for profit group Tangaroa Blue Foundation.

“Map data: Google, DigitalGlobe”

Tangaroa Blue partners with locals, other organisations and all levels of government to clean up Australia’s coastline, and to record every single item that is found. By looking at what items are found, Tangaroa Blue can then start to identify the source of where the items could be coming from, and can create “Source Reduction Plans” to plan ways to prevent the trash from getting to the beach at the source. 775728_10202056716201640_3906404801521157258_o
On her visit back home to the states, Leslie had a very different bag checked as luggage
than she normally does. The large checked in bag contained a shocking lesson for her students – that trash travels. 1492533_10202056714561599_8857225450206556427_oIn the bag was a large plastic bread crate collected off of a
remote beach in far north Queensland, Australia, when she was on a beach clean-up
trip with Tangaroa Blue. It is likely that it was dumped off the side of a ship out at sea and washed in. The crate had the words “Kansas City, MO” written on it. 10265618_10202056714121588_8836608949857630832_oLeslie brought
the crate back as an important lesson that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world,
your actions make a difference. We are ALL capable, and also responsible, for looking after our beautiful mother earth. I hope you enjoy this issue of ways we can all make our lives a little less plastic.
~Leslie Mallinson