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Rozalia Project's founder seeks help for waters

Greenport artist Cindy Pease Roe and Rozalia Project

Greenport artist Cindy Pease Roe and Rozalia Project intern Kaleigh Wilson sort through the collected debris. (Nov. 19, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

For Rachael Z. Miller it was literally the last straw.

Miller, a former swimmer, had continued to compete in the water through sailing competitions with her husband, James Lyne. She had seen her share of beautiful waters, and ones getting spoiled by litter.

"We were on an island off the coast of Maine," Miller recalls. "There had just been a nor'easter, and this beautiful little beach was covered in trash. We decided we had to do something about the problem."

That was the motivation for the Rozalia Project for the Ocean, Miller's 4-year-old Vermont-based nonprofit that logs the collection of items to more effectively execute cleanup projects.

Rozalia doesn't attack the issue by pushing for legislation, noted Miller, who is also the group's executive director. Instead, it focuses on "solution-oriented" approaches and education.

By logging what is picked up during collection efforts, Rozalia hopes to identify sources and deal with issues on a long-term basis. Gathering that information at different times of the year for different tides can help set the schedule more effectively for volunteer cleanups.

And knowing what shows up on a regular basis can lead to some simple solutions. For example, if shotgun shells are regularly found in an area, Miller says sending the hunting community a reminder to pick up shells can have the desired effect.

On the education front, Rozalia lets the public know about items like the tiny plastic beads companies use in exfoliants, which people use in some cases without knowing the effects on the water.

"A lot of companies use [these] in body washes and facial scrubs," Miller said of the plastic waste. "Our sewer systems and water treatment plants are not equipped to deal with something so tiny that doesn't dissolve."

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