Rochester woman reducing plastic waste one beach at a time

Jul 11, 2018

Tammy Bleier and her clean-up crew of volunteers pose with over a hundred pounds of trash.
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Tammy Bleier, a Greece native, says she has a special relationship to the water.

"I grew up going to Lake Ontario, especially Ontario Beach Park, and people use it for a myriad of ways. We use it for recreation, for boating. I love kayaking, people use it for fishing, we use it as a source of drinking water.”

As a research student, Bleier noticed a lot of attention being paid to plastic pollution in oceans, but not necessarily the Great Lake to the north.

“It seems that for some reason Lake Ontario gets left out of the equation a lot. Which is sad because it’s actually the most polluted of the five Great Lakes, we’re finding.”

In response, Bleier decided to found a group called the Plastic Lake Project, a spinoff of the Plastic Ocean Project of which she was a member.

This past week, Bleier organized a cleanup at Ontario Beach Park through the Plastic Lake Project. It was a grassroots effort, reaching out to folks on social media, and she says it was really successful.

"We collected 109 pounds. We got 18 bags full of trash, and when I did a final tally we, had collected 5,219 total items."

Bleier says she’s not just removing the garbage, she’s also collecting the data so she can further research the extent of plastic pollution in the area, and offer some solutions, like putting lids on beach trash cans.

“Right now, they’re all open so even if people are disposing of things properly, if a good wind comes, and by the lakeshore as you know it's usually pretty windy, it gets blown out and it's back on the beach again."

Bleier says she has more beach cleanups scheduled: Durand Eastman Park on Aug. 4, and Turning Point Park on Sept. 8.