Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 6

Over the weekend, we were going to do a 20 minute clean-up, but after a 4 year old meltdown... we decided against it.  Luckily... on Monday... everyone was in good spirits... so we headed over to Wrightsville Beach.  Access 24 was looking great as we walked from our parking spot... not much litter on the street... but when we stepped onto the beach my kids were quick to notice that someone made it ALL the way to the trash can and didn't throw their trash away!  Seriously!?  How do people do that?!?

SO... I've got to thinking about the details of "why" I'm doing this whole thing-- going to the beach and counting cigarette butts for 20 minutes and keeping a tally of how many I collect.  Sure cigarette butts look trashy, but it's about more than just what it looks like... the trashy part is the obvious part... it's about the impacts that aren't visible to the naked eye...
My kids always head to the ocean to dip their feet in the water before we start our 20 minutes.
Did you know that there are over 165 chemicals found in cigarettes and that those toxins wash from the butts into our water??  And those toxins from cigarettes also collect on the filter and are then washed out into our waterways and the ocean... where birds and marine animals often ingest the butts, thinking that they're food.  In fact, plastic pieces have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales, and other marine-life that mistakes them as food... 
And... lets be real.. cigarette butt litter isn't just a major problem at our beaches and in the ocean.  Every time I leave the beach from doing a clean-up... I ALWAYS manage to get right behind someone that throws their cigarette butt out their car window.  Grrr.  On Monday, it was the driver and the passenger. :( 

SO... switching gears... and onto an AWESOME moment!!  I, personally, don't feel the most comfortable picking up litter right next to people.  WELL... not my daughter!!  While I was picking up some butts, I turned around to see my daughter in the middle of a couple's "area".  She was on her knees picking up butts at a smoking couples feet and in between their two chairs!  They thought she was collecting sea shells and were quick to say they had a trash bag for their butts.  Hmmm...  (Speaking of seashells... I have a vision of a PSA in my head... wanna hear it?!)  

Every 20 minute clean-up we do... I weigh the litter that we pick up and my friend Sara adds it to The Daily Ocean Community Collection count.  Wanna join the beach clean-up REVOLUTION!?  I'm with Sara and everyone involved in the Community Collection Count on The Daily Ocean blog!!! :D  Over the past 6 days, I've picked up a little over 9 pounds of litter off of WB.  And by all accounts the trash wasn't too bad at Access 24.  All in all we collected mostly lots of little bits...mostly plastics... still a little bit... is still too much...
I find these little Silica Gel packets... I have yet to figure out what they come in that would be brought to the beach.  Insight anyone?!
Alcohol is banned on Wrightsville Beach... but it obviously doesn't mean that people don't do it.
At the end of nearly all the clean-ups that we do, our kids are somehow rewarded for their efforts... and rightfully so....usually in the form of found toys, beach towels, or high fives amongst other things ;)  This time as we were finishing up our 20 minutes, my daughter came running and said, "Henri found money!"  He came to me and said, "What do I do with this??"  I told him that he could keep it... it was REAL.  Yes, he was confused and so proud all at the same time.  He ended up carrying his one dollar bill around with him for the rest of the day :D  

20 Minutes on August 30, 2010

Cigarette Butts:  342

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 6 days: