Home > 2011 Posts, About Dave > Flotsam and Jetsam

Flotsam and Jetsam

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

To most non-seafaring folks, flotsam and jetsam sound like a pair of lame cartoon characters. But they are really nautical jargon for different flavors of human stuff that ends up in the oceans.

Lots of things sink, like the Titanic or a fisherman’s lead weight. But, a bunch of stuff doesn’t sink right away or at all. Wood, rope, hollow things and most plastic come to mind—lots of plastic.

My bride and I were reminded of this a little while ago when we found a very unusual art enterprise out on the Oregon Coast. It’s called Washed Ashore. They and their volunteers collect tons (literally) of man-made things that wash ashore and then turn it into art—big art.

We saw a ten foot tall seagull and a jellyfish almost as tall. Many of their pieces tour around. On the day we visited, the touring pieces were on exhibit in San Diego at the America’s Cup sailing races shore site.

When I see something new and interesting, two of the things I think about are cause and effect. And, my time appreciating the folks and efforts at Washed Ashore was no different. Stuff from shipwrecks and tsunami’s I understand. But, why, I asked myself, are there so many plastic bottles and flip-flops in the art and the big materials bins?

As I walked out from behind the seagull made up in great part of these things, I had my answer. A woman was pointing at another piece with the hand not holding her throwaway plastic water bottle and bemoaning how ‘they’ were ruining our beaches.

Aha! thinks I. And my mind spun out the following explanation. The cause is the same one that leads five men to use a theater lavatory and leave while I am washing and drying my hands. It’s the same one that spews filth and debris at every OWS usurpation of other people’s property.

It’s the same one that keeps that woman buying tap water at twenty times the price gasoline and tossing away plastic crap for no useful purpose. For them:

Other. People. Don’t. Matter.

Regardless of how politically correct their words may be.

As my basketball coach used to say when I was always getting faked out by opposing players, “Look at their belly button. Don’t watch their heads, or their arms, and don’t listen to their trash talk. Just watch what they do.

Advice to live by.


Art is great, and Washed Ashore is a worthy organization, but we all also have lives to live. And many of us do paperwork. There’s a company I know whose products will never need to see a landfill or be incorporated into a piece of Washed Ashore art. It’s called Rebinder. They sell superb, re-usable, recyclable office supplies at competitive prices. Their stuff is decidedly not made out of pointless plastic. Check ‘em out.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of plastic products that make life better and are used responsibly. What I’m ‘agin’ is the oposite of that.

  1. November 30, 2011 at 7:50 am

    So awesome

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