Michigan girl makes ‘sad’ discovery while at Tiscornia Beach

ST. JOSEPH, Mich.—A quick stop at the beach for a photo of the sunset before getting for ice cream resulted in one young Michigan girl making a “sad” discovery.

Vivienne Kittleson, a third grader from Berrien Springs, Michigan, decided to join her father’s girlfriend, Cari Adams, on the beach as the professional photographer grabbed a quick snapshot of a Lake Michigan sunset. But when she hopped down onto the sand from the pier, she was horrified with what she found.

“I saw plastic, cups, other plastic stuff, napkins, and a lot of straws and I was sad,” Vivienne said.

Plastic straws, bottle caps, drink bottles, wrappers, and more littered the damp sand on the shore of Tiscornia Beach near the St. Joseph Lighthouse.

Vivienne took matters into her own hands, quite literally, and rejoined her family minutes later, armed with two handfuls of plastic she wanted to clear from the beach.

“Vivienne jumped down and she caught the straws and she’s walking with them, she’s like ‘what do I do with these,’” Cari said.

Cari decided to snap a picture of the sad young girl. She posted it to her small photography business, Lovely Little Things’ Facebook page.

“I posted one with my kind of personal rant about plastic, about being better and about it being April and beach season not even starting. That concerns me,” Cari said.

Vivienne says the plastic, and other trash, disappointed her and she worries for animals that might end up eating it. 

“It’s not just plastic that are killing animals, I don’t want animals to die,” Vivienne said.

Cari says that she often asks her children not to order plastic straws in restaurants, so the discovery was all the more frustrating for her.

“This is kind of a pet peeve of mine, we have nine people in our family, so whenever we go out to the restaurants I’m like no straws, no straws, we have one or two renegades with the straws,” Cari said.

Both Cari and Vivienne plan to use the experience to drive action.

“We talked about signing up for like cleaning up a beach day to take the awareness the photo has brought on Facebook to action which would be a cleanup so I’ve reached out to a couple of organizations,” Cari said.

Crews facing challenges during park cleanup

The St. Joseph Parks Department’s Assistant Director of Public Works, Greg Grothous, says the city beaches are seeing an increase in small plastic debris as opposed to large peices of trash.

“There’s a lot of what we call small plastics that we find on the beach that need to be picked up, need to be cleaned up that wash ashore through all of the winter storms,” Grothous said.

Grothous also says that the shrinking of the beachfront is making it harder to clean up the beaches.

“Part of that is there’s not a lot of beach out here at Tiscornia, at Lyons, so running our beach rake is going to be a struggle because we don’t have a lot of beach to work with,” Grothous said. “Lake Michigan is at all-time highs, we have high water levels, we’ve come off a pretty wet year, a fairly wet spring and the water levels have certainly not gone down.”

One plea Grothous has for the public is to treat the public beaches and parks as if they were state and national parks.

“It’s something simple but one of the things we tell people and say ‘hey bring a little garbage bag or grocery bag with you and take with you what you bring’ that would help tremendously,”Grothous said.

Watch the video below for a peak at the plastic sitting on Tiscornia Beach.

Share this article: