Marc Brophy is a part-time resident of Yarmouth County with a full-time love of Port Maitland Beach, which is why, last year, he launched an effort to clean the beach.
On Aug. 24, he posted on Facebook that he was done and he expressed thanks to the people who had helped him with the initiative. Six days later, during a visit to the beach – with his sizable yellow Lab, Duke, by his side – Brophy talked a bit about the project.
“I guess it started last fall,” he said. “I walked the beach a lot. This dog was a puppy. The plastic on the beach really bothered me. And bait straps. I started picking up a piece of plastic every day and then two pieces and the next thing I was bringing Sobeys bags and picking up more plastic.”
He wonders about the environmental impact – direct and indirect – of all that material.
“I’ve got to think sea life is eating it, ingesting it, and eventually it’s in our food stream,” he said. “It’s hurting them. It’s hurting us. Plastic is really bothersome to me.”
But it wasn’t just plastic he picked up. He would walk over rope, and so he started bagging the rope too.
Brophy is grateful to those who helped him by bringing the garbage bags back to the Port Maitland Beach park after he had filled them. One man, for instance, would use a wheelbarrow to transport the bags, Brophy said.
“I appealed to people to bring the bags back because I can’t walk back and forth five times,” he said, “and I know of at least four people that took the challenge with me ... so it wasn’t just me. It was a group effort.”
He filled at least 100 big bags.
He admits it was quite a job, but, on the other hand, he got to hang out at the beach with Duke and listen to the waves. In a way, he said, he found it relaxing, even though he could be out there for four hours or so at a time. It gave him plenty of exercise.
“It’s better than the gym,” he said, laughing.
A 56-year-old Newfoundland native who has lived in Dartmouth for 26 years, Brophy bought a place in Short Beach in 2015. He works as an engineer with the federal public works department in Halifax. From Easter through to Christmas, he spends weekends in Yarmouth County, although the plan is to move down here permanently.
Proud of what he was able to do with Port Maitland Beach – where he says he “absolutely” loves walking – Brophy wonders about other areas, about the volume of material that’s out there.
“How much coastline do we have?” he said. “It’s scary when you think about it. How much is underwater?”
Among other things, Brophy hopes his project will prompt more people to reconsider their use of plastics.
As for Port Maitland Beach, meanwhile – although he still will pick up a little something here and there when he goes – Brophy likes what he sees now.
“It’s a clean beach,” he said. “It’s like it was meant to be.”