We spent this week at a hot sunny beach. It was restful and fun.
We enjoyed sunrises over the water.
And lots of sensory play time
Since we flew to our destination, we didn’t bring any sand toys. We bought one shovel and bucket at the dollar store shortly after arriving.
I am an absolute lover of long morning walks on the beach.
I grew up living on a beach. We take day trips to beaches in New England all summer long…but this was the first time we’d gone to the beach as a vacation in a few years.
I don’t know if I never noticed before because I didn’t have kids, or if it’s just a thing at the beach we were visiting, but thanks to my morning walks, by the second to last day we had a whole plethora of beach toys.
Our daughter was especially excited about the pink kick board that has Disney Princess on the other side. She won’t stop calling it a “skate board” after watching some surfers this week.
Every single item in that assortment except the blue bucket and orange shovel were collected on my morning walks. They were washed up on the beach by the waves.
I figured “we’ve lost most of our sand toys and I don’t want to add all this plastic to our trash” so I’ll bring them home. We plan to spend a lot of time at the beach near our home this summer. As I thought about our lost selection of sand toys, I wondered where they had gone. Had they washed up on some other beach somewhere after we left them accidentally? Had they been re-homed and used by another kid like these ones? Had they been collected for trash? Where they still floating out there in the ocean somewhere?
I felt proud of my resourceful and environmentally friendly idea of collecting the pretty much new toys and reusing them.
Then the last night of our trip it was stormy, heavy winds and high seas.
In the morning we watched the sunrise from our balcony again.
I went for my walk. There was a plethora sea weed. Nestled in the sea weed I found quite a few washed up Portuguese man of war
And I collected a ridiculous amount of sand toys. I was disheartened to be honest. There had to be a limit on how many of these we could realistically fit into our suitcases and bring home. I moved them further up the beach, away from the waves, hoping some other mom out for a morning walk would rescue them for her kids to play with.
I didn’t find much “trash” like old water bottles or drinking straws. I honestly felt surprised given the pictures I’ve seen of beaches littered in straws and bottles and all sorts of other trash.
I feel like we are inundated with constant requests to reduce waste, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think I hear it so much it has kind of become filtered out background noise.
Don’t use straws. Don’t use plastic bags. Switch to reusable feminine hygiene products…
Those are all good things to do. And I truly want to leave for my daughter and generations to come, a clean and safe environment, but sometimes I get a bit lackadaisical about it. Let’s face it, individually portioned cheese sticks are so much less of a hassle. Yogurt pouches are way less messy.
We clothed diapered, and that was a huge wasted reduction. It wasn’t as much work or as bad as people tried to convince us it would be. But it was a big decision, made partly because it would save us thousands of dollars.
But here I am realizing that cleaning up this beautiful earth from human consumption isn’t only in the big decisions, like cloth diapering. It’s in the small daily choices, to choose to make the extra stop to drop off grocery bags at a store to recycle, to take one more minute at the beach to make sure we collected all our sand toys and carry them all out even though our hands are full.
So here I am making a renewed commitment to do my part this summer. We will put up the laundry line we’ve been meaning to put up and use it every day we can. And we will take less toys to the beach and make sure to bring them all home.
I want for my daughter and generations to come an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful world God gave us, to experience His creativity and power as can only be experienced in His Creation.