Nova Scotia·Waves of Change

Family cleans up Brier Island, one plastic bottle at a time

Instead of playing video games or hanging out with friends, three children on Brier Island have spent their free time picking up hundreds of bottles that have washed up along the shoreline.

Rhynda, Ian and Brier Tudor collected more than 1,500 bottles washed up along the shoreline

Rhynda, Brier and Ian Tudor show off their 'pool of garbage' after collecting hundreds of bottles. Ian is holding some of the dozens of Mylar balloons they also found along the shore of Brier Island. (Amy Tudor)

Instead of playing video games or hanging out with friends, three children on Brier Island, N.S., have spent their free time picking up hundreds of bottles that have washed up along the shoreline.

Rhynda, Ian and Brier Tudor have spent hours picking up more than 1,500 bottles and dozens of Mylar balloons.

"It looked really sad with all the bottles on the beaches," said Rhynda, 12, of their motivation.

Rhynda, Ian and Brier Tudor have walked over the rocks and climbed through the bushes to collect more than 1,500 bottles. (Amy Tudor)

Their father, Jesse Tudor, decided the family should clean up a cove one day to teach them about garbage and earning money by returning the bottles.

"That started it off," said Tudor. "We couldn't believe you could get 200 bottles out of a very small cove."

The little project sparked the kids to keep going, starting their mission to scoop up every bottle along the coast. It's been hard work for the family.

"It hurted but it was very fun because there was little pathways in the bushes," said eight-year-old Ian. His father said he's been taking the project seriously, making sure even the hardest to reach bottles were scooped up.

Their efforts are paying off. They say they have just two coves left before they've covered the entire island, which is 6.5 kilometres long and 2.5 kilometres wide.

The kids have found bottles of all shapes and sizes while cleaning up the shoreline. (Amy Tudor)

Tudor, a lobster fisherman, said many of the containers still had some liquid in them, leading him to think they accidentally fell off boats.

"I know a lot of people will drop to stereotypes about fishermen and stuff, but every year I've ever fished I've never saw someone willfully throw something overboard," he said.

"You can also say New Brunswick had that big flood. That's going to push a lot of bottles down."

Tudor said he was surprised to see how many bottles there really were, but he said he was even more upset when they realized they found more than 60 balloons.

"Once you let go of that Mylar balloon … you know it's not going into a black hole and disappearing. It's purely going to go on land. It's going to affect something."

He said it's created a big conversation with his children about where the garbage comes from and what to do with it.

"[My wife] is a whale watcher … and I am a fisherman, so we both have lots at stake in a clean ocean," he said.

Brier Tudor, 5, is happy to put some bottles in his bag. (Amy Tudor)

When it became clear that they had too many bottles to store in bags, the family decided to use an old pool. Five-year-old Brier said it now looks like a big garbage pool, and the pile keeps growing.

Once they finish the project, they're heading to the bottle depot to see how much can be returned.

The kids want to use the bottle deposit money to buy a new pool.

Once they finish this project, their work isn't over. The kids plan to join the rest of the community for the annual shoreline cleanup to help pick up other types of garbage.

"I feel like there's still more to be done," said Rhynda.

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