Written by Ned Clarke
So I was sitting on a rocky cliff above the breaking waves near San Francisco’s Cliff House the other day, with nothing but a rich orange sunset, a 40 ounce and the overall splendor of the natural landscape to keep me company – definitely the recommended way to unwind after a long workday.
The foamy bottom of the 40 hit my lips, indicating I had taken my final swig. Consumption complete, I raised the depleted vessel upwards toward the dying sunlight, which glinted off the crystalline surface in short, bright bursts like mini super novas.
I held it like this, letting it repose elegantly for a brief second before propelling it forward and releasing it into the chasm. I watched with eager anticipation as my bottle-copter spiraled downwards before meeting with a spectacular fate.
As glittering crystals bounced and flew in all directions on the sharp rocks below, I thought of that blog “Stuff White People Like” in which there is an image of a happy albino chap gleefully depositing a bottle into a recycle bin. I thought of how disillusioned that poor whitey would have been had he witnessed my defiant act. I then thought of a skit by George Carlin, in which he theorized that God had placed humans on the earth for the sole purpose of creating giant ocean whirlpools full of plastic bags.
I hate plastics in the ocean BTW – true, they break down eventually due to sunlight and the elements, but not before they release toxins and also suffocate fish, birds and other sea life.
Glass on the other hand is a different story.
I remember doing little experiments when I was a kid – breaking beer bottles into a bucket of little rocks, then adding water and swilling it all around until the glass became smooth around the edges. It never took that long for the glass to round off – a couple hours at most. The longer I did it, the more the glass would break down into smaller pieces. Eventually it would return to its original state; sand (Not that I ever had the patience or lack of an overall life to sit around and turn glass into sand, I swear!).
I will also reference my favorite beach in the world, which is located in Fort Bragg, CA and aptly named “Glass Beach” due to it being composed almost entirely out of sea glass. The beach itself was used as a dumpsite for the first part of the 20th century and has now become a very popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. In fact, every time I go to this place of surreal, man-made beauty and run my hands through the chromatic arrays of smooth opaque baubles, I am thankful that recycling of used glass was not as trendy back in the olden days as it is now (Do I sound like an asshole for saying that?).
To further my case, there’s been a lot of publicity recently on the sand depletion that is taking place along the coast of Florida. Apparently, due to heavy storms, dredging and other environmental factors, Florida beaches are losing sand at an alarming rate and county officials are considering using crushed glass to replace the vanishing granules! In fact – crushed glass is already being used to replenish beaches in New Zealand and the Caribbean.
Seems to me like we should be breaking as many of our glass bottles into the ocean as we can – recycling only the exact amount we need to continue manufacturing glass largely from recycled material so we don’t have to go to beaches and get new sand! I’m not going to use the penny analogy, but I think that there is an abundance of glass already in circulation (I guess I just did use the penny analogy).
Eventually, my peaceful musings were shattered by the sound of a sarcastic-sounding salutation coming from behind me. I turned around to see a yuppie hiker standing on the hill above me, obviously having witnessed my random act of environmental kindness. “Excuse me?” I yelled back at him. His response was not as cordial; “You f-king litterbug – do that again and I’ll go get a ranger!!”
I wanted to spank this misinformed environmental crusader for ruining the serenity and profundity of my moment of oneness with nature, but then I realized that he and I shared the same interest. I just knew more.