Trash and Treasures

CBM intern Michaila Shahan.

By Kathy Knotts, editor

I’ve been thinking about trash. Specifically the Great Garbage Patch(es). At first I was going to just mention the Pacific Garbage Patch, but turns out there are at least five large floating islands of trash on our beautiful planet. These garbage patches are made up of all kinds of trash, but mostly plastic that gets smaller and smaller and mixes into the water column.

Our waste doesn’t disappear, it is transported by gyres (circulating ocean currents) out to sea where it accumulates and pollutes the water and sickens or kills marine life and birds. The images of these places are awful to see. 

Now imagine that was our beloved Bay.

As writer Chelsea Harrison says it, we have a complicated relationship with plastic. It’s a useful material, making life easier for a lot of people. But it is also making our planet and our wildlife suffer. It’s a balancing act that we humans have yet to figure out. 

Harrison writes about Plastic Free July, a time to take stock of our use of materials that persist long after we are done with them. Maybe longer than our lifespans. Creating less waste, recycling and reusing materials can help keep the plastic from ever reaching our waterways. 

The good news is that going plastic-free is possible, it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing commitment—even just a small change counts. 

I still struggle with my own use of plastic. I forget to bring my reusable bags to the store. I blank in that moment when I should refuse a plastic straw. It’s not that I don’t care; it’s just a habit I haven’t overcome. It takes intention to change these habits and I aim to improve. I challenge you to do the same.

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed some new names in the bylines here in the last couple of months. Two of those names belong to our Chesapeake Bay Media interns. We have been fortunate to host Noah Hale and Michaila Shahan this summer. Noah is a student at St. John’s College in Annapolis and Michaila is a junior at Regent University in Virginia Beach.

Not slighting Noah, I’m going to put the spotlight on Michaila today, as there’s something special happening in Calvert County right now that concerns her. From Aug. 3 until Aug. 11, Chesapeake Market Place and Auction House in St. Leonard is holding a special auction and donating a percentage of the proceeds to Michaila for her college fund. 

This young lady has been working hard—not only did she work as an intern for CBM this summer, but she’s also been working at TJ Maxx to help pay for school. Michaila comes from a large family, her mother Tamara told me. Tamara and Paul Shahan adopted four siblings from Baltimore in 1996 through the Department of Social Services foster/adoptive program. Just as Tamara was about to turn 39, Michaila was born. The family has been in Calvert County for 35 years, with Paul working in area churches and as a carpenter and cabinet-maker. Though all her siblings are now grown, Michaila’s family remains tight-knit.

Friends of the family, Larry and Kay Forman (and heirs to the H.B. Truman Lumber Company), own Chesapeake Market Place & Auction House. “We’ve been doing auctions for 30 years,” Forman said. “People from all over the U.S. can shop our website and we ship, too.”

So browse the auction online and place a bid—if you are local you can also visit the 9,000-square-foot warehouse and see items in person or shop the marketplace, which has 100 vendors. And you don’t have to buy anything, donations are also acceptable, just give Larry a call and he will set it up.

 “She has done so much for her community and she’s such a wonderful girl. The family is God-fearing Christian people who love Jesus,” said Forman. “I know that young lady will have a ministry of her own someday.”

Bidding begins Aug. 3 at 5pm and closes Aug. 11 7pm (shop Auction J, Reach Larry Forman at 410-610-8329.