Saturday, March 29, 2014

Our Daily Ocean: Day 240

For 2 months, I had planned to do a beach cleanup on March 25 while my kids had their science class at Airlie Gardens.  So when I woke up that Tuesday morning, you can imagine my disappointment when it was overcast and raining.  Thankfully, by the time my kids had their class, the rain let up and I was able to do my planned 20 minute beach cleanup! (AND no time more because as my timer went off... the rain began to fall again!)
As usual when it's an overcast rainy day, the lone people are just me on the sand and a few surfers in the water.  It makes cleaning the beach SO much easier not having to weave through people and their possessions.  That being said, I still pause at things like water bottles.  With surfers in the ocean, it's possible that a seemingly left-behind bottle of water could still have an owner.  But, I always err on the side of "reality"and pick it up.
20 minutes on March 25, 2014 at Access 19
Litter by weight: 15.2 oz
Cigarette butts: 42

Total cigarette butts removed: 57,837

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Our Daily Ocean: Day 239

This afternoon, as my kids and I were talking, I mentioned that it was World Water Day.  My kids looked at me like they were waiting for me to say something more.... so, I finished with: "All life is dependent upon water.  Water IS life.  If there's anything worth celebrating, it is definitely Water."
Normally on World Water Day, I'd wax poetic about how awesome water is... no doubt it IS magic.  And the magic of water extends beyond its sustaining all life.  In some cases, water makes life more livable.  does that even make sense?  I guess, to me, it does because I'm thinking about my friends who run the non-profit Ocean Cure.  Ocean Cure utilizes the ocean by doing charity surf camps for medically fragile youth and adults because they believe in the powerful emotional and healing properties of the ocean.  It's true.

Water sustains us, but it also helps heal us.

Ocean Cure is currently in need of funding to purchase four WAVEJET battery powered surfboard systems to broaden the work they do with Life Rolls On/They Will Surf Again, Wounded Warriors, Little Pink Houses of Hope and many other medically fragile adults and children.

Learn more here:  Go Fund Ocean Cure

20 minutes on March 22, 2014 at Access 36
Litter by weight: 1 lb 1.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 40

Total cigarette butts removed: 57,795

Oh, and if you're curious about what Access 36 looked like back on March 22, 2011: Our Daily Ocean: Day 52

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Our Daily Ocean: Day 238

On Tuesday, I went to Wrightsville Beach in the middle of the day and was shocked to find it completely packed (for a winter weekday).  Of course, my first thought was "doesn't anyone work in this town?"  And then it hit me... spring break for ECU, UNC and App State (and who knows what other NC universities!?).

 So, I learned a valuable lesson.  When living in a beach town, it is important to know when universities are on spring break... or just be shocked when there's no parking and the beach is packed in the middle of the week in winter!
Now, even though the beach was packed, I didn't see (or smell) anyone smoking! YAY! ... and there wasn't much litter to pick up!  In fact, even though we did our best to weave through the people sprawled out on the sand, we only picked up 5 cigarette butts!!

Clean Beach and Clear Waters: Wrightsville Beach from Wilmington and Beaches CVB on Vimeo.

... yup, first smoke-free beach in North Carolina.  And, we're STILL excited about it!
20 minutes on March 11, 2014 at Access 28
Litter by weight: 2 lbs 9.1 oz
Cigarette butts: 5

Total cigarette butts removed: 57,760

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our Daily Ocean: Day 237

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. 
If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. 
But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save)  the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. 
This makes it hard to plan the day." 
~ E.B. White

... and so adding to E.B. White's quote, as I always do...

"...but then I realize my desire to improve the world, is what allows me to savor it." ~me

20 minutes on March 2, 2014 at Access 25
Litter by weight: .2 oz
Cigarette butts: 18

Total cigarette butts removed: 55,755

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our Daily Ocean: Day 236

It's pretty amazing that our society has reached a point where the effort necessary to extract oil from the ground, 
ship it to a refinery, 
turn it into plastic, 
shape it appropriately, 
truck it to a store, 
buy it, 
and bring it home 
is considered to be less effort than what it takes to just wash the spoon when you're done with it.
Don't get stuck using disposable plasticware, always be prepared.  I carry a To-Go Ware bamboo set and a Life Without Plastic spork with me.  If for some reason I don't have my reusable utensils on hand, I make sure to grab foods that can be eaten without utensils or choose foods that can be used as utensils (chips, crackers, carrots, cucumbers, etc.).

20 minutes on February 27, 2014 at Access 29
Litter by weight: 2.4 oz
Cigarette butts: 25

Total cigarette butts removed: 57,737
Got my finger in the shot!  Whoops!  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Our Daily Ocean: Day 235

On Sunday, as I drove to Wrightsville Beach to do a quick cleanup before taking my son to his hip hop class, I thought I knew what I was getting into.  Well,  I was wrong.  While getting onto the island was a breeze, there was loads of outbound traffic and the beach was still packed (ok, packed for February)!!  Apparently, I forgot that it was UNCW homecoming weekend.
I haven't seen major crowds at the beach in such a long time that the sight was a bit overwhelming at first.  Where to walk?  Which way to go?  Does that belong to someone or was it left behind?  There are so many more variables to contend with when people have their chairs, toys and blankets laid out.  Not to mention the larger groups playing various beach games (like volleyball and bocce ball).  It's a lot to weave through while searching the sand for what doesn't belong.
It's hard not to start thinking about summer and what the litter problem will be like with the increased number of visitors to our beach.  I wish there was a way to reach those people before they arrive.  A way to connect our love for the beach and ocean to an understanding and commitment to care for it... even in the midst of getting lost in what it means to be at the beach.
20 minutes on February 23, 2014 at Access 17
Litter by weight: 2 lbs 1.8 oz
Cigarette butts: 16

Total cigarette butts removed: 57,712

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Our Daily Ocean: Day 234

This afternoon, my youngest and I walked all around access 43 wrapping around to where Banks Channel and Shinn Creek meet.  There on the shore of Banks Channel, we stopped to watch a pod of dolphins until they disappeared from sight.  A beautiful reminder of one of the many reasons we do our best to help protect our oceans and beaches.

  My youngest was just 4 years old when I started this project and this July he'll turn 8.  He's grown up so much... and over these past years has been part of creating a major MAJOR change in our community.  And while he may not know how big of a role he played, he is seeing first hand the difference that has been made.
He remembers when picking up littered cigarette butts on the beach was never ending.... when we would just sit down and pick up hundreds.  I remember it all too well, but there is no better jog of the memory than looking back on beach cleanups from years past.  (Reference: February 2011 and February 2012).  With the passing of the Wrightsville Beach smoke-free beach ordinance... those days seem to be behind us.  Sure, there are still people who smoke on the beach, but it seems that they are few and far between.  Case in point, today we only picked up 12.
And while the dolphins serve as a beautiful reminder as to why we do our best to help protect and cleanup our world; the reduction in the amount of cigarette butts we're finding serves as a reminder as to what can happen when we take action because we believe we can make a difference. 

“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” 
- Mahatma Gandhi
20 minutes on February 22, 2014 at Access 43
Litter by weight: 2 lbs 2.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 12

Total cigarette butts removed: 57,696

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Our Daily Ocean: Day 233

We were supposed to go on a field trip today to Durham, but I couldn't force myself to leave the beach. Museums aren't going anywhere, but true beach days in February are limited... so I changed our plans and my kids and I spent the early afternoon at Wrightsville Beach.
As I was turning my daughter into a mermaid, I realized she was wearing her "Little Mermaid" t-shirt... which reminded me of this billboard I saw so many years ago.  Created to raise awareness among children-- and in turn all Americans-- about the health of the ocean.

Life in the ocean depends on us keeping it clean.  So what are some simple things we can all do?

  1. Don't litter and if you see a piece of litter pick it up.
  2. Refuse single-use products. (Bring your own bag/cup/mug/container/straw)
  3. Reduce the amount of trash you create. (Start by shopping bulk bins and avoiding over-packaged products.)
  4. Reuse what you can and buy secondhand.
  5. Learn more and share your knowledge with others.
20 minutes on February 20, 2014 at Access 15
Litter by weight: 1.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 27

Total cigarettes removed: 57,684

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our Daily Ocean: Day 232

Well, it happened again.  Our normally mild winter area received another bout of ice.  The trees bent and broke, leaving Wilmington looking like a hurricane had blown through.  But thankfully, all is well... and it's back to the beach!
While I haven't done as many beach cleanups as I had hoped to at this point, I have done what I could.  These winter beach cleanups have been so different than previous years.  More often than not, I think: "it's so clean".  And not the deceiving kind of clean... like I look and I look and I look... scanning the sand for litter... and there's just not much to find.

I wish for the same to happen this summer.

20 minutes on February 18, 2014 at Access 29
Litter by weight: 4.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 9

Total cigarette butts removed: 57,657

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Our Daily Ocean: Day 231

So often, these beach cleanups hinge on the weather.  Just days prior to this beach cleanup, my area was blanketed in snow and ice.  A rarity for sure, especially considering there was so much ice on the streets that my neighbor and I ice skated down the middle of our street.  I wanted to go to Wrightsville Beach and see it white with snow and ice, but I decided it was safer and held out for the weekend and warmth that came with it.
72 degrees meant that the beach was busy with activity.  Everyone of us grateful from the reprieve from cold weather.  Lured by the tide pools and exposed pylons, we ran, jumped and played on nature's playground.  And while we, of course, did a beach cleanup... there was little to pick up.  
A perfect way to start February. The kind of day that you don't want to end.

20 minutes on February 2, 2014 at Access 22
Litter by weight: .8 oz
Cigarette butts: 21

Total cigarettes removed: 57,648