The sands in front of Haystack Rock are a little cleaner than they were a week ago.
About 80 pounds of microplastics were sifted and removed by 50 volunteers on Wednesday, Aug. 15. The event was sponsored by Sea Turtles Forever, which has been removing the tiny, colored plastics from the area since the beginning of summer.
Usually, the team consists of the nonprofit’s founder, Marc Ward, and his small team of about a dozen volunteers. But last week, employees from the Hillsboro-based medical supply company Acumed came to help out.
“I just love the beach,” Acumed employee Jesse Ramirez said while sifting sand through a specially designed microplastic screening device. “I grew up in Oregon, and we came down here every weekend. So I like to do what I can.”
Doing environmental volunteer projects is a part of Acumed’s mission, CEO Sharon Wolfington said. In the past, the company has participated in various cleanup projects with Hillsboro Parks and Recreation and other wetland mitigation projects.
“We believe social responsibility as a commercial entity is very important,” Wolfington said. “The other part of it is that our employees, they come here to Cannon Beach. They do a lot of day trips here … We’re not just helping Cannon Beach, but our employee family.”
Wolfington said the company met Sea Turtles Forever at their annual weeklong Earth Day fair, where they saw the buckets of plastics the team had already removed from previous cleanups. With 35 nieces and nephews herself, Wolfington couldn’t help but think about them and other children who play in that sand and how putting contaminated plastics in their mouth could affect them.
Professional Affairs Manager Sharon Sipprell also felt compelled to help after seeing the group’s demonstration.
“I’m a native Oregonian and I’ve watched the beach change over the years. There is more garbage and fewer birds, seals and even shells than I saw as a kid,” she said. “This event has gotten a huge response from our employees and I think it’s because we all want to do something that’s going to make a difference, even if it’s a small impact on a much larger problem.”
Although their day at the beach came to a close, the company volunteered to donate video services to help Sea Turtles Forever develop some content to promote on social media.
“We want to help them get the word out,” Wolfington said.