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Trash in Luxury Yacht Charter Marinas. It’s Simple to Make a Difference.

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sampling of debris picked up on dock in a marina - washer rope bolt fishing line plastic cloth

We took this photo during the Yachts Miami Beach Boat Show.  We were inspecting several private luxury yacht charter vessels docked at the Deep Harbour Island Gardens marina, near downtown Miami.  As we walked along the docks, I noticed our company President, Jana Sheeder, often pausing, bending down, picking up something, and putting it in her “Eco-Hero” tote bag.  I asked Jana what she was picking up, and she paused and poured a few of the contents of her bag onto a locker box on the dock.  “Take a look,” she sighed. “This debris can easily end up in the water where it becomes part of the ocean pollution problem, as well as a threat to birds and marine life.”

 So, I snapped the photo you see above…

THE IMAGE

When I look at this photo, I see beautiful superyachts that serve as a gateway to experience the wonders of our oceans.  I see a segment of the tourism industry – private luxury yacht charter – that generates millions of dollars of revenue annually.  I see a support network of thousands of crewmembers, dockhands, marina workers, and maintenance and repair staff – all supporting their families from a livelihood that is inextricably dependent upon healthy oceans.

For me, the trash in the foreground of the photo is a harsh reminder that the refuse we see floating in marinas and along the seawalls and walkways is a direct threat to the health of our waterways, and therefore, a threat to our own livelihood.

As you read this blog, I can guess what some of you are thinking – “I’m not part of the problem – I would never throw trash in the water.”  Good intention, ladies and gents, but you or someone you know might still be directly responsible for pollution in our waterways.

 

MYTH BUSTING —

It’s a common misconception that most trash comes from people throwing things directly into the water…  

“Believe it or not,  much to the trash in our waterways comes from litter thrown out of cars, litter that blows from surrounding areas into the waterways, illegal dumping, and this item really irks me – cigarettes left on the ground,” says Jana.  “During a big rainstorm, all that junk ends up in the watershed, and some of it eventually makes its way down to the bays, harbors, marinas, beaches, and worse – onto our fragile coral reefs and into the stomachs of marine life (like fish and turtles) and shorebirds.”

 

CLEANUP  EFFORTS

Efforts are underway to rid our waterways of trash.  In Baltimore, Maryland, two (rather cute) trash wheels are pulling debris from the harbor before it flows into Chesapeake Bay. Mr. Trash Wheel (male) and Professor Trash Wheel (female with eyelashes) are solar and hydro-powered trash interceptors in place in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Over a million pounds of trash has been pulled out of the water by Mr. Trash Wheel since it was installed in May 2014 (Professor Trash Wheel was installed in December 2016).

Mr. Trash Wheel in a marina

 

Professor Trash Wheel - with eyelashes

John Kellett (a true ECO-HERO!) invented the trash wheels and tracks the debris collected.  Since May 2014, when Mr Trash Wheel went operational, almost nine million cigarette butts and over 300,000 plastic bags have been collected.   Additionally, Mr. Trash Wheel picks up an average of 14,000 Styrofoam containers a month – second only to cigarettes.

Kellett echoes Jana’s thoughts that the problem starts on shore.  “I thought we were being ambitious with the harbor, but now people are talking about cleaning up the ocean,” Kellett said. “But I think the most effective solution is to get the trash before it gets there.” 


WHAT YOU CAN DO

No matter where you live, you CAN make a difference and help protect our natural resources.  Let’s review some simple steps we can all take:

  • No butts about it!  Are you a smoker, or know someone who is?  Don’t throw your cigarette butts out of your car window or onto the ground.  It takes just a second more to locate an ashtray or garbage receptacle.
  • Say “NO” to single use, disposable plastic products.  Reusable shopping bags are available everywhere!  They’re affordable and many places give them away as promotional items.  Please think twice when your grocer asks you, “paper or plastic?”  Say no thank you to either option, and hand your grocer a reusable bag.  Many stores give discounts (Target and Whole Foods, for example) when you use them, and you can turn your discount around and donate it to charity, through the store!
  • Pick up at least one piece of “someone else’s trash” and properly dispose of it today.  If everyone did this, it would make a HUGE impact and keep trash from finding its way into our waterways and environment.  It’s amazing how many people just don’t care…  (Many people refer to picking up refuse left by others as “karma trash,” or cleaning up poop at dog parks as “karma poops.”  It’s just good KARMA to help the earth and the environment!)
  • Be the change you want to see in the world.  If you have children, lead them by example when they are young and/or are especially eager to learn.  Show them that you refrain from disposable plastic bags… Get them to drink from reusable water bottles and not plastic water bottles.  Take them to the beach and show them the pollution that washes up on the shore and share with them how it harm the birds, creatures, and corals in the sea.   Track down a video of a sea turtle eating a plastic bag (thinking that it is a jellyfish)…or a seabird or sea lion with a plastic six-pack ring around its neck (which can easily eventually kill the animal).  They will follow your lead!

What do I hope will happen?  I look forward to the day that Mr. Trash Wheel and Professor Trash Wheel are forced to take days off because there is no debris for them to clean up!

Jana Sheeder sitting on the aft couch of a yacht in a marina

Jana Sheeder, President of 1-800 Yacht Charters and 1-800 BAREBOAT, with Eco-Hero Reusable Tote Bag

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If you are ready to make a difference, text HERO to 305-720-7245 and we’ll send you an “Eco-Hero” tote bag – just like the ones Jana carries with her and also uses at boat shows.  It’s Jana’s gift to you – from Jana and our team at 1-800 Yacht Charters!

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