For the past week, weather here has been bouncing back and forth between warm and cold. On November 13, a record was set for the first November snowfall in recorded history. Then just 5 days later on November 18, our area reached 84˚F breaking the previous record high. But like the weather lately, it was a short lived phenomenon and when I went to the beach on Tuesday morning... it was cold with a whipping wind.
Even though it was cold, I was immediately impressed by the sideways waves and loved watching them smash into the pier pylons. It's fun seeing the variances in the ocean... one day it can be completely calm and the next it can be rough and kind of violent. I would have loved to sit on the beach and watch the waves and wind interact. But there was something that I needed to do.... and it started with me walking the tideline...
The tideline was littered with cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, straws, and other various smaller plastics. No doubt things that were left behind from beachgoers of the previous warmer days.
I often wonder how we can reach those who haven't yet learned ... or those who just haven't (or can't) made the connection that their actions make a difference. How can we inspire and motivate others to do something beyond sharing a post or thought on social media? How do we really inspire real motivated and committed change? If you're up for it... I'd love to hear your thoughts.
20 minutes on November 19, 2013 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 8.9oz Cigarette butts: 98
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 218 days:
With every season, there is something special about the beach. Of course, summer (my favorite time) means swimming and soaking up the sun. But when the cool weather comes... I can't help but appreciate a less crowded beach which ultimately means a cleaner beach.
This is what the beach looked like on November 12, 2013... and yes, I had it all to myself.
Having the beach all to myself on such a beautiful day... was amazing. The feeling is so special that there's really nothing like it in the world. The sand stretching as far as I can see and the blue that never ends.... there's healing powers there.
Have you ever wondered why we're drawn to the ocean? Or why being near water sets our minds at ease? Dr. Wallace J. Nichols revolutionizes what we think about those questions and reveals the remarkable truth about the benefits of being, in, on, under, or simply near water in his upcoming book Blue Mind (June 2014). To learn more about Wallace "J" Nichols and Blue Mind, please visit:
A year ago, Tuesday, I did my 168th beach clean up picking up 225 cigarette butts in 20 minutes. At the time, I was putting all my efforts into bringing awareness to how beach smoking bans helped reduce cigarette litter and encouraging WB residents to get out and vote. And then on November 6, 2012 the residents of Wrightsville Beach voted to make WB the first smoke-free beach in North Carolina making my 168th beach clean up my last pre-smoking ban clean up!!
Yes, it's been a year already!
With the passing of the smoke-free beach ordinance, I found immense gratitude in being part of something so significant to my area. A year after the fact, I still feel the pride wash over me when I step onto the beach. And even more so when I calculate the difference pre and post smoke-free ordinance.
Comparing March 2012- March 2013 where I picked up an average of 222 cigarette butts per clean up to April 2013- present where I now pick up an average of 60 butts per cleanup....
there is a 73% decrease in cigarette litter at Wrightsville Beach!! YAY for a smoke-free beach!!!
Now as I work to complete 365 non-consecutive beach cleanups, without the push of fixing the cigarette litter problem.... I sometimes find myself looking for inspiration, motivation and purpose to get out to the beach. This past Tuesday, I received a simple reminder from my friend Rachel and her 3 amazing kids.
There's nothing... I tell you nothing... more inspiring than seeing young kids get excited about helping make a difference. I loved watching Rachel's kids enthusiasm, having conversations with them and hearing their observations about what they were picking up on the beach. Thank you Rachel, for suggesting that we do a beach cleanup together!! Let's do it again, soon!
20 minutes on November 5, 2013 at Access 25
Litter by weight: 1.4 oz Cigarette butts: 68
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 214 days:
When I came across this piece of plastic at Wrightsville Beach, I thought it was just a stray piece of plastic. Then I went to grab it and found that I couldn't pull it without it tearing.
So my kids and I started digging. As we dug, we learned that we were digging out a "Food Lion" plastic bag that someone filled with sand and buried. (Unfortunately, I don't have more photos because each time we thought we had removed enough sand to pull the bag the bag it would tear. The last thing I wanted was for shreds of a plastic bag to blow away.) Thankfully after digging around the bag enough we were able to get the whole thing!
Did you know that approximately 380 billion single-use plastic bags are used in the US every year? That's more than 1,200 bags per US resident, per year. Even if 99% were recycled, that'd still leave 3,800,000,000 plastic bags littered or in a landfill EVERY SINGLE YEAR. But we're not even close to a 99% recycling rate with plastic bags. The recycling rate for plastic bags is around 1 to 3%.
Not even close.
There are some things that are easy to live without and plastic bags are definitely one of them... do your part and refuse single-use plastic bags by bringing your own or going without.
Lately whenever I do beach cleanups near the one of the two piers at Wrightsville Beach, I can't help but imagine the "No Surfing Signs" with the words "No Smoking" instead. ;)
Since I did this beach clean up at our adopted beach access 36, I took the time to walk under Crystal/Oceanic Pier. I was happy to not find any littered straws... however, I was extremely disappointed to see that Oceanic has one of their pier dining chairs under the pier and around it were more cigarette butts than I cared to count (or pick up).
Since Wrightsville Beach has a smoke-free beach ordinance... I'm surprised and a bit irritated at what appeared to be an Oceanic restaurant employee smoke-break area on the beach. ... which means that two Wrightsville Beach ordinances are being ignored: no smoking and no littering on Wrightsville Beach.
A friend of mine once said, "So here's the deal... if you want good karma... learn to take care of yourself and your daily needs without making other people work harder than they have to. When you leave a place you have rested, clean up your space and leave no trace. And be sure to show gratitude by giving back what was never yours to begin with."
Love where you live. Love where you travel. Love wherever you are...
and take care of what you love.
20 minutes on October 22, 2013 at Access 36
Litter by weight: 2 lbs 6.2 oz Cigarette butts: 62
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 212 days:
On Monday morning, we accepted a break from our normal routine by going out for hot chocolate (in a reusable ceramic mug, of course!), checking some books out from the library and doing a beach clean up. It was a good morning...
Since this was a break from our norm, I took the suggestion of my friend Kim and did my beach cleanup between accesses 19 & 18 (Oxford and Henderson Streets). You see, Kim had text me a week before telling me how bad it always is at Henderson St.... and since my beach cleanups have been on the cleaner side lately... I wanted to see if it really was worse there.
We walked in at access 19 (Oxford St.) and to be honest... the beach wasn't that bad. BUT... as we walked north to Henderson St. (access 18), the amount of litter began to increase.
I found bottle caps posing as seashells.
Plastic fragments trying to pose as broken shells. Some are easier to spot.... blue is a dead giveaway for plastic.
We also found lots of plastic straws-- 10 to be exact-- which seems to be a high amount for this time of
AND... we picked up more cigarette butts than I wanted to find. 161
So... this clean up wasn't horrible. I didn't leave the beach wondering how people could be so disrespectful. But, nonetheless, I'm curious. There was definitely an increase in the amount of litter we found as we approached Henderson St. ... I'm feeling like I need to do more cleanups at these accesses and talk to the good people of the Henderson Street League for the Environment and Responsible Government and the team of Wrightsville Beach View. Have any insight? Feed my curiosity!
20 minutes on October 21, 2013 at Access 19
Litter by weight: 14.4 oz Cigarette butts: 161
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 211 days:
As the weather and the water temperatures are getting cooler, how we spend our time at Wrightsville Beach is starting to change. Normally my kids are in the water, but Thursday marked the shift when our time is spent primarily building sandcastles, exploring and walking the beach strand.
Our favorite place to explore is on the far southend of Wrightsville Beach from Access 44 to 43. We walk the paths winding through the dunes...grasses, bugs (lots of the kind that jump!), sand spurs, rabbits, flowers... it's a great place to see where life on the beach lives.
It's also where (because of water sometimes flowing through) the wrack no longer forms a line... instead it forms a carpet. As you walk through the dunes... some low lying areas will be completely blanketed. The organic wrack material is the foundation for new dunes to form. But the foundation is tainted with our trash. The top of the "organic carpet" is studded with various plastics-- cigarette butts, styrofoam, bottle caps, straws, etc. But the surface is usually only a fraction of what lies beneath. As many times as I've gone through the wrack... I'm always torn with the fact that nature put the wrack the way it is for a reason... I truly hate to disturb it. BUT... I can't stand the thought of trash being in the foundation of our beach.
Did you know that those plastic pieces I'm holding comes from a mesh bag filled with beach toys? Have no idea what I'm talking about? Check out an example here. To be honest, besides the plastic mesh bag and the plastic pieces holding it all together... the beach toys are cheap junk. The handles of the shovels break off, sand castle molds crack and the sifters break. Single-use beach toys. BUT... did you know there's another option?
In March, I met Valerie of zoë b organic and learned about her "fantastic anti-plastic beach toys". A few notable things that I love about the zoë b beach toys is that they're: Made in the USA, certified to biodegrade in ocean water, durable and have a smart design (everything fits in the bucket and a sifting lid keeps it all together!). Interested? Learn more here: Faq Zoë b biodegradable toys
20 minutes on October 17, 2013 at Access 44
Litter by weight: 11.5 oz
Cigarette butts: 35
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 209 days: