Tourist attraction or environmental disaster?

Where do we draw the line between historical preservation and present-day environmental degradation? Ever since last year when I came across the exposed landfill in Brooklyn, N.Y., often referred to as Glass Bottle Beach, I have been asking this question. The answer may seem obvious, especially if the degradation is, well, obvious. But in the case of Glass Bottle Beach, where the garbage from the early 1900’s bleeds into the ocean with every tide, the line is surprisingly very fuzzy. While the whole solution to removing the garbage is seemingly out of reach, I believe that you and I actually play a crucial role in getting closer to it. It’s actually pretty simple. 

As of late, the word is that Glass Bottle beach is a great place to spend your Sunday afternoon collecting vintage glass, or even just as a place for a casual stroll along the Brooklyn coastline. In the words of a headline from a popular online newsletter  “The New Yorker,” Glass Bottle Beach is a treasure trove. Yes, us humans are looking towards this pile of trash a place to find treasure. What does that say about the values of our society? 

The way we speak about certain things can often weigh heavy into how we perceive those particular things, and even further, may reflect how we treat them. In the case of Glass Bottle Beach, unfortunately I don’t see the garbage going anywhere any time soon. But I do see the conversation surrounding it, changing. 

Just as my friend suggested to me that one day— to check out Glass Bottle Beach because it’s “cool,” I do the same to you. I suggest that you go, but go with a critical eye. I suggest you go for a walk along the polluted coastline with a loved one, and wonder about where the trash will end up after the next few waves wash it away. Allow your visit to Glass Bottle Beach be a wake-up call to how much waste you produce, because we all have a part in this, you just have to play it.


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