Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash.
When Kristin met Chase, they both shared the same vision. Although they may have been born decades apart, their mission is very much aligned – to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Both Kristin and Chase have become disruptors in their local community by leveraging technology and debuting a brand-new tool that intercepts marine debris. Here is their #CleanWake story…
Western Shore To Eastern Shore Gal
Nine years ago, Kristin Weed, founder of Kent Island Beach Cleanups (KIBCU), moved from the bustling Western Shore of Maryland to the state’s quieter Eastern Shore. Kristin grew up enjoying many of Maryland’s beaches and was excited to discover island life on Kent Island and beyond. Given the area’s low population, she expected the beaches to be clean.
Kristin’s rose-tinted glasses didn’t last long. After her first experience at Chesapeake Beach, she was shocked by the amount of pollution and spent the whole time cleaning up trash, rather than relaxing. Her frustration culminated, providing her with the momentum to take action and make a change.
When Kristin broke her ankle in 2013, it provided her with the down time needed to reflect and hatch a plan. After recognizing that helping to protect the environment was important to her, she set up the Kent Island Beach Cleanups organization with her husband, which supports the reduction of single-use plastics and other harmful debris in our environment. KIBCU leads clean-ups once or twice a month.
An Eco-Friendly Movement Gains Momentum
The group gained speed very quickly. Kristin was encouraged to meet up with like-minded people that shared the same passion and felt as strongly as Kristin about protecting Kent Island’s beaches. Groups of all ages got involved, from volunteer students at school to the older generations. On one occasion somebody turned up with a baby in tow. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Kristin is somewhat of a social butterfly and instills a sense of community among the group. While picking up trash is its primary focus, Kristin encourages locals to socialize and discuss environmental issues by hosting lunches and organizing drinks after a lengthy beach clean-up.
Kristin on a clean-up on Kent Island. Photo: Kristin Weed.
Illuminating Chesapeake Bay’s Pollution Levels
The Chesapeake Bay is a large estuary, punctuated by lighthouses, and its marshes, wetlands, sandy beaches, rivers and creeks are home to a rich diversity of plants and animals all – of which make it a great place for boating. The issue of pollution is sophisticated, and with more than one cause contributing to the decline in the water quality, it can be difficult to demystify and resolve.
We do know that debris and harmful materials entering the water from runoff pollution is one of the most significant causes of pollution. It is caused by runoff from urban and suburban residential areas. As rainwater runs, it collects pesticides, fertilizer, oil and contaminants. It is flushed into the water and causes harm to marine life and water quality. Some of the harmful products identified in runoff include trash, soil, nitrogen and phosphorus, oil, petroleum-based products, pesticides and herbicides toxic metals (copper, lead and zinc) and road salt.
Photo by Naja Bertolt Jensen on Unsplash.
Toxic chemicals enter the Chesapeake Bay through its rivers and streams via wastewater, stormwater, agriculture, and air. Furthermore, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, there are high levels of contamination from old industrial plants and unfortunately they have not been effectively cleaned up to mitigate the harmful effects.
SeaBins Fights Toxic Waste
SeaBin is a multifaceted tool, collecting and filtering pollution, and thanks to Chase O’Malley – a young member of KIBCU and an Eagle Scout – the innovative technology has recently made a debut in Kentmorr Marina on Kent Island. The trash skimming device is located in the marina surrounded by boats where it collects debris, organic material, chemical pollutants and oil all day, everyday. A grease pad helps to absorb the contaminants in the water.
Chase says, “The emerging technologies allowing for the SeaBin to be effective are revolutionizing the way average citizens such as myself can have a positive impact on our local and state communities. By collecting the pollution from the Chesapeake Bay, the SeaBin promotes a healthy ecosystem in Kentmorr Marina and the surrounding watershed.”
The removed pollution mainly consists of organic material, trash such as plastic, and oil from the many commercial ships’ bilges that transport products via the Bay. The SeaBin can even filter out microplastics. Chase spent almost a year organizing the launch of the project, managing to raise $12,000 in private donations, as he sent hundreds of emails and made over fifty calls to raise awareness about the need.
Chase reached out to Kristin in 2020, and the two joined forces on a mission to clean-up the Bay. Together, Kristin and Chase regularly collect data from the SeaBin to share information about the Bay’s pollution levels, which can fluctuate.
A Cleaner Future – Tackling Water Pollution One Marina At A Time
Kristin and Chase collect data from the SeaBin. Photo: Chase O’Malley.
Theirs being among the first of its kind to be installed in the U.S., Kristin and Chase would love to see more SeaBins all over the Chesapeake Bay and at marinas, harbors, bays and waterways all over the country. “This project just goes to show you that any individual can really make a difference,” says Chase.
SeaBins will significantly increase water quality, promote a healthy local ecosystem, and tackle the rapidly evolving pollution issue that the Chesapeake Watershed faces every day. To help Chase raise enough money for a second SeaBin you can sponsor his efforts on his gofundme page.
Get Involved with #CleanWake
Boat Trader has launched the #CleanWake Instagram challenge, a grassroots-style boaters awareness campaign that is designed to unite and challenge millions of water lovers. If you spend time on or near the water, we urge you to pick up trash left by waterways or on the beach. Follow @BoatTraderUSA to find out more about the great work happening all over the world.
All you need is a bag and some gloves and a bag- then fill up your bag with as much trash as you can find near a waterway or beach. If you can reach the trash on the water by boat – even better! Snap a shot of your trash and share it on your social feed with the hashtag #cleanwake and nominate five of your friends by tagging them in your post.
Jennifer Burkett, Boat Trader’s PR manager, comments on why Boat Trader initiated the Clean Wake campaign, “Boaters stand at the forefront of the fight against waterborne trash and marine debris, and right now we have the opportunity to leverage today’s rapidly expanding boating audience to do good for the environment. Our goal is to reach people new to the water and challenge our followers to share their trash trapping routines with others in fun, creative ways, making “talking trash” on social media a positive force.”
If you’re inspired by Kristin and Chase’s story, you can reach out to them on social media. Or to read more about other conservation advocates, from Meag Schwartz’s quest to protect The Great Lakes, to Michael Walker’s efforts on his Clackacraft boat to help clean up the Clackamas River Basin, just continue to stay tuned to our blog here!
Share Your Own Story
Do you have your own #CleanWake story that you’d like to share? Follow @BoatTraderUSA on Instagram and tag your photos and videos with the hashtag #CleanWake and we’ll re-share your efforts to clean up our waterways for generations to come. Tag your 5 friends to continue the dialogue about this important issue!