Sharon Massey’s fifth- and sixth-grade Spring Street International School students have news: Oceans are not garbage dumps.
The students are collecting marine debris from all of the public beaches on the island about once a month.
Marine debris, said Massey, is trash from the ocean that washes up on beaches.
“Debris can be some pretty weird stuff,” she said. “We have found wrappers from Japan, [a] shoe…and toys.”
Massey said the students would love help in collecting the plastic buried in the driftwood at Jackson Beach.
“When they saw the state of Jackson Beach, they recognized it needed extra time and effort,” she said.
The location is also their tentative spot to collect litter during the annual Great Islands Clean-Up, which occurs around Earth Day in the San Juan Islands.
The top five items found at beaches, she said, are plastic gun shot wads, straws, plastic bottles, bottle caps, and styrofoam.
Since Spring Street International School students first started collecting marine debris in 2015 at Cattle Point, Massey reports that the amount of plastic and debris has gone down significantly. She said they notify San Juan Island National Monument staff of the results of their cleanups so staff can better strategize their own efforts to keep coastlines pristine.
The national monument is overseen by the federal Bureau of Land Management.
“This is just one of many ways she serves the community,” said Marcia deChadenedes, San Juan Islands National Monument manager, about Massey. “She’s an amazing person, doing great work.”
Visit www.springstreet.org for more information on the school.