I’m Delusional: I Think I Can Make a Difference

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D and I are staying at The Breakers Resort belatedly celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary. Thanks to a collaborative effort on the parts of my parents and D’s, we were able to leave the kids with them and escape alone. We desperately need this time.

Due to Tropical Storm Debby, we spent the first part of our vacation indoors and/or window shopping, watching True Blood, and enjoying the quiet.

Today was the first time the skies cleared enough to go to the pool and the beach.

I feel compelled to say the resort is breathtaking in every way. The staff is attentive, friendly, and everyone has gone out of his or her way to make sure we are enjoying our stay. Our suite is spacious, clean, and comfortable, and we even have two small balconies we can walk out onto with a gorgeous view of the Atlantic. The entire resort is impeccably clean, and clearly no detail has been left unattended to.

That being said, I was disappointed when we hit the beach today. D and I took a little walk after we tired of the pool.

There was litter. In the waves. Stuck in the piles of seaweed on the beach. Washing ashore. Bottle caps, chunks of plastic, even an empty tube of toothpaste, not to mention a granola bar wrapper, a plastic bag and various other pieces of trash.

In. Our. Ocean.

I started picking up trash. If I’d had a trash bag, I’d have filled it easily. But D stopped me.

“C’mon,” he said, “What’re you gonna do, pick it all up?”

“Don’t start. I’ll pick up what I want to,” I snapped. My husband and I are very different in the way we view things. I like to think one person can make a difference.

I picked up as much as I could carry and dropped it in the trash bins conveniently located at the edge of the beach right before reaching the pool area again. I felt people looking at me and I wanted to shout at all of them. Just imagine if everyone, everywhere cleaned up their messes AND taught their spoiled, bratty children to do the same?

Here we are, in the middle of paradise, and there’s trash everywhere on the beach.

Frankly? It sort of ruined my day and I’m not inclined to return to the beach area. It’s been awhile since I’ve written about green things or the largest¬†floating landfill, but that doesn’t change anything. We’re still slowly destroying our own planet. And no one seems to give a shit.

One person CAN make a difference. Today, I picked up trash off of the beach. If every other guest outside had joined me, we could’ve knocked it out pretty quickly, at least the stuff on the beach and things close to shore. When appropriate, my kids help me clean up litter. I’m teaching them (and yes, they are young, so reminders are necessary) to pick up after themselves. Just because we are staying at a really nice resort doesn’t mean we let everyone else clean up after us.

What do you think about this? Would you have stopped to pick up trash? Do you pick up litter? Why or why not? What do you teach your children about all of this?



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  • http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/ Lance

    yes, but my obsessive compulsiveness is tied to my social anxiety disorder not being green or earth conscious.

    I think anyone who thinks about something and someone other than themselves is helping the world be a better place.

    You aren’t delustional, you’re kind, interesting, unique, and worthy of praise. Attagurl, E

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you, Lance.


  • Deborah Goldstein

    Agreed! ¬†And when other people seeing you doing your part, they are more inclined to do the same. ¬†I wouldn’t have been able to pass right by litter…though I might have drawn the line at certain bits of used trash, I’ll admit. ¬†Some stuff is just plain yucky. ¬†

    Good for you for setting an example and proving that every individual doing their share is not just a drop in the ocean.  Hope the rest of your trip is relaxing and clean!

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      You’re right, some of it is just plain yucky, and I am careful. But it’s just so frustrating and sad to me. I can’t think about it too much or I get really upset…thank you so much for coming by to read, and for doing your part, too!

  • http://singedwingangelspad.com/ Angel Shrout

    OH that infuriates me. I would have been picking it up as well, and my husband would have been beside me helping. The difference is when I would have gotten back to where other guests were I would have been all loud and talking about how people need to clean up after themselves. mmhmm sure enough would have. 

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      I wish my husband would be more like yours about certain things. We just have different priorities. Granted, he didn’t make the mess, he put his trash in the proper receptacles, so that’s where he stands. Plus he’s a germaphobe!

  • http://www.theumbels.com Evonne

    You’re not delusional. ¬†One person can make a difference. ¬†And if others see that one person, they are more inclined to do the same to make a difference. ¬†I would have picked up some of the trash as well. ¬†We try to teach our kids not to litter and keep the world clean. ¬†For the most part they listen, but they do still need reminders.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      Yep, the kiddos are still learning and it’s hard b/c I don’t want them touching certain yucky stuff, especially if I don’t have hand sanitizer nearby. But they know littering is wrong, they point it out, and they pick up their own trash. So at this point I am pretty happy with that!

  • http://twitter.com/lauraBseymour Laura S.

    Ok, I don’t pick up trash. HOWEVER, I DO NOT litter, and neither does anyone in my family. My thing about picking up trash is that it is usually dirty and gross, and I don’t carry hand sanitizer. It’s no excuse. I should, and should teach my kids to do the same. And we could all just go wash our hands.
    My kids know that what’s on the ground is litter and that the people that left it shouldn’t have, but maybe this will inspire us to start picking up trash. I’m sick of seeing it too. It’s freaking terrible that we expect someone else to pick up after us. Thanks for the reminder, Erin.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      I carry hand sanitizer everywhere. It’s a habit. I’m glad you don’t litter. And don’t get me wrong–I don’t pick up litter everywhere all the time..but this was my vacation and what’s supposed to be a beautiful beach & resort. It was upsetting to me, to say the least.

  • http://twitter.com/citherrien Cheryl Therrien

    I feel the same way you do. I do pick up litter. I do pick up after myself. I do wish others would do the same. I also believe one person CAN make difference. 

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thanks, Cheryl. I’m glad you believe one person can make a difference. Because if some of us didn’t feel that way? Where would we be?

  • Mandy Dawson

    In my opinion, we keep our homes clean. We teach our children to clean their rooms. Why the hell can’t we do the same with our Earth?

    The kids and I always bring a bag when we go to the beach to pick up any trash we see. Sometimes we fill it, sometimes there are only a few soda bottles or a glass jar, but you’re right. Every little bit helps.

    Also, guess what? Your blog is no longer blocked as “adult” at work! Shhhhh….

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      Hooray for my blog no longer being blocked! WOOHOO!!!  And love your analogy about teaching kids to clean their rooms, so why not the planet as well?


  • http://www.fromtracie.com From Tracie

    I participated in several community beach cleaning days when we lived in Pensacola when I was a kid. I think it was a really good learning experience, and definitely helped to teach me not to litter or tolerate littering in those around me. 

    I (and Thomas) would have been right there with you picking up trash. One person can make a difference, and you aren’t delusional at all.¬†

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      I’m so glad to hear that I’m not delusional!
      Funny thing is (although I haven’t been to Pensacola in about 6 years), I don’t remember it being dirty like this beach was. My dad has a condo there and we used to go there frequently back when we lived in New Orleans. I went to the beach there often and I seriously don’t remember it being filthy like this one—and Pensacola is not a pricey resort beach area. So sad. Maybe the snobs are the ones making the messes!

  • Renladyofthearts

    I’m a total trash picker upper and so is my eleven year old-¬†

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      YAY! I’m so happy to hear that!

  • http://mamawantsthis.com/ Alison@Mama Wants This

    If only everyone was like you, Erin, the world would be a much better (and cleaner and greener) place to be. You can certainly make a difference. At least in your children’s lives by teaching them what’s right.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      Thanks, mama. I hope you’re right. I do what I can when I can. I should do more….

  • http://twitter.com/mommyhoodnxtrt Jessica F. Hinton

    Yes, you can make a difference. I think so often people get disillusioned with thinking that their efforts are not enough, that they can’t make a difference. And that’s where we all suffer.¬† I would have done the same as you just because it (or cleaning) would have felt like the right thing to do.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      I’m glad you’d have done the same. It is hard and sometimes I do wonder why I bother because so many people DON’T. But if I don’t, who will? Or at least that’s what the little angel on my shoulder says to me…..

  • http://fourplusanangel.com/ jessica

    So disappointing when beautiful places and beautiful days are wrecked by the carelessness of others. Glad you were there to make a difference.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thanks, Jessica. I just wish people could be more respectful. Because if everyone cleaned up after themselves? This whole world would be a better place. Yes, we’d still have landfills, but at least there wouldn’t be trash in places where it doesn’t belong.

  • Ally

    Not only can one person make a difference in the trash, the bigger difference is that if just one person who saw you do it stops and think about doing it next time they are out, then you’ve succeeded in a much bigger way.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      I sure hope someone saw me and thought about doing the same thing. Even if that doesn’t happen, it makes ME feel better to have done it, you know?

  • Ashley A

    Oh, that is so terrible to see! I hate when people ruin such an idyllic setting. I think it’s amazing, and like some of your commenters mention, hopefully it inspires someone else to do the same. We had this at our pool (not the same, but still) and my son asked why I picked up a few pieces of trash. I told him because other people were too lazy to do it themselves, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t help make it nice.

    UGH. I can’t stand lazy littering people.¬† Sorry to take over your rant!

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      You didn’t take over my rant! Besides, I’m excited to hear you take up the cause locally yourself and teach your kids about it—that is awesome! If everyone would do things like we do, the whole world would be a cleaner, better place.

  • http://www.lateenough.com/ Alex@LateEnough

    I always struggle with the idea that one person can make a difference because some of our society’s problems seems so big. What I do know is that I can be a part of the problem or the solution. There isn’t a middle ground. I pick up trash and recycle and don’t litter and started composting. I do as much as I can, which often feels like not enough. I just can’t let that keep me from trying. I believe everywhere I go should be better when I leave than when I arrive and not just because of my sparkling personality. You did that for the resort. You are awesome.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you, Alex. I know what you mean. I get easily overwhelmed by everything wrong with our country, our planet, and the people living in/on it. I just wish more people were INTERESTED in being part of the solution…instead of being content with letting everyone else do the hard work. PS you are pretty awesome yourself!

  • http://twitter.com/juliecgardner Julie Gardner

    Having taught at a high school for more than 16 years, I can tell you your instincts about some kids being “bratty and spoiled” are spot on.

    Not all of them, certainly. I am sure there are other parents out there like you, like me, trying to teach our kids to be responsible for our things.

    I remember being in Girl Scouts and being told over and over again “A Brownie always leaves a place cleaner than she finds it.”

    So yeah. I pick up trash whenever I can. Even if it won’t make a difference to the overall problem.
    And I don’t give a crap about germs.

    Keep up the fight, Erin.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Thank you, sweet Julie. I was never a Girl Scout/Brownie, but always wanted to be. And I love that mantra–how awesome is that?!

  • http://twitter.com/BocaFrau Susi K

    Hey. You are in our neck of the woods. I know it can get bad sometimes at the beach, especially close to resorts and public areas… I’m like you and pick up stuff and I always have a plastic bag on hand for our own trash. I know, in different areas along the coast they do clean-up the beach days and people come to help pick up garbage. It also usually is worth on days like these past few when the wind is strong and the waves big… makes you kinda sad to imagine how much more lurks in the water!!!¬†

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      I’m so glad you clean up too and I’m glad to hear of the clean-up days! I’m also relieved that maybe it was worse b/c of the storm. And no, I definitely don’t like to think of what’s lurking in the water…like when I can’t see…or like the floating landfills…sad.

  • http://terrisonoda.net/ Terri Sonoda

    Oh gosh, Erin, you did exactly what I would have done!¬† In fact, I have done this before…picked up trash on the beach.¬† I’m not kidding.¬† It drives me absolutely nuts.¬† We have this beautiful natural resource in which to play and we abuse it and the privilege by being too lazy to find a trash receptacle. Blows my mind.¬† Good post!¬† And good for you, my friend.
    OH, sorry about the sunburn.  I saw the pic on FB.  OUCH.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      I’m so glad you’re on my side. Wish everyone was. And I should’ve picked up more than I did. And I’m sad my vlog got cut off before it was done because it felt unfinished. Oh well. Next time must bring Flip cam and/or learn to use my Mac to make videos! LOL

  • talktherapybiz

    Picking up trash at the beach is a great way to role-model responsibility and ‘green’ living for our kids. One person can make a difference. We usually pick up more than our share. Trash cans are usually plentiful at beaches.

    I recently followed a campaign called “Balloons Blow” (or something like that). They’re on Facebook, and they regularly post pics of balloons and debris that have washed ashore. I will NEVER let go of a balloon again.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      That’s the sad part. There were trash cans there. But apparently that’s just still too much for some people.

      As for the balloons, I’ve heard about this and it makes me sad. My kids love balloons. (although we usually play with them inside after we get them and then I make them laugh by inhaling the helium before tossing them out)

  • http://www.misselaineouslife.com Elaine A.

    Oh this just happened to Ben and I at the park the other day. ¬†There were a couple of water bottles and some sort of wrapper on the ground and he said, “Mom! Someone littered here! Why do people do that?” ¬†He was¬†flabbergasted, as was I. ¬†There was a trash can less than 10 feet away. ¬†Anyway, we picked it up together and threw it all away. ¬†I teach my children the same. ¬†I’m sorry it ruined your day though. ¬†Thanks for taking your time and blog space to get the word out, girl!!¬†

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      What a great role model you are for your kiddos! LOVE what you did and the conversation you guys had.

  • http://anymommyoutthere.com/ Anymommy

    I think we can always make a difference, even if it’s a tiny one.¬† I always pick up trash in our neighborhood (provided it’s not too disgusting ;-).

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      I’m with you there. If it’s too gross, I stay away, too. But I carry around my hand sanitizer. I just can’t stand the idea that people think it’s okay to just toss stuff out the window. ARGH!

  • http://www.facebook.com/smartinez03 Stephanie Marie Martinez

    I do stop and pick up trash, and I don’t care who stares. ¬†I’ve watched people walk past a piece of trash time and time again and they see it but don’t do anything about it!

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      Hooray for you and I’m jumping up and down that you pick up littler, too. I hate it when people pass by and pretend they don’t see it. Makes me so mad!

  • Sandra

    I definitely would have stopped to pick up the trash. I wish I would have been there to join you. I understand your husband’s point of view. My husband is similar in that when he knows something is upsetting me, he wants to take me away from it, instead of deal with it. It’s a man thing, I think. Men want to be logical, and logic tells them that one person cannot do the task of many. Logic tells them that many do not care. Logic is probably correct. I hate logic.¬†

    I hope this doesn’t sound condescending, but I am proud of you. I’m proud of anyone who believes that one person can make a difference; therefore, I am proud of me, too.¬†

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin


      Not condescending at all! I am proud of BOTH of us! And I think you’re right about men & the logic thing. They only see black and white. Too bad for them! Thanks for stopping by!