a blue bottle cap

I walked along the beach in the trough where the waves had broken at high tide. A smooth flow of sand and debris betrayed the streams earlier bed. Trash was strewn along the packed powder, at times slightly covered over or just protruding. I had to pick it up. It seemed a feeble effort with the oil just offshore, death lurking so near. What was just a little more plastic, a little more petroleum spun to serve my convenience? But I couldn’t leave it. I started picking it up, bottles and wrappers and bags. Just a few feet filled my hands anew. When I was nearly to the end of our boundaries, I came across a blue bottle-cap, free of its bottle. It stared me down like a great eye. I thought of the kaleidoscope of color that floats upon our oceans, blown together in great drifts of debris. Tiny drops of blue and red and green and yellow… caps, crushed by wind and wave and the surf’s pounding. I thought of the fish that find them attractive to eat and fill their bellies with the killer candy.

Plastic is mildly toxic; what it absorbs in the ocean like a magnet – chemicals, pesticides and poisons is deadly to the fish that ingest the plastic and to us who eat the fish.

Some of the girls saw me bending to grab some trash and began to lift a little of the burden as well. We met above the blue eye. “Remember these?” I quizzed my student, holding the blue cap aloft. She thought a moment, and then she raised her eyes and voice, “In the fish, in the stomach of the little fish!” Then she told her companions about the plastic caps and their travels.

Every effort is not wasted.


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