Thursday, September 30, 2010

Plastic-Free Food: Day 5

For as long as I can remember "5" has been my number... I call it my favorite number, my lucky number... I often say I live by fives.  SO... of course, I had high expectations for day 5 of plastic-free food week.  

With the rain falling, I knew exactly what I wanted to eat for breakfast.  MUFFINS!!  I, seriously, have an addiction to muffins... they're so quick and easy to make AND the flavors are endless.  Today, I made Happy Herbivore's Apple Crisp Muffins.  I decided to make apple muffins because I have applesauce that I made last week and EVERY single ingredient on the list is plastic-free (thanks to the bulk bins)!!!  The muffins were absolutely amazing... I couldn't stop eating them!!  True, I do LOVE apple pie more than any other dessert... so these muffins are on my make... ummm... everyday list!! ;) Yep, the day started off AWESOME!!

At noon, the rain was pouring down... I didn't have a clue what I was going to make for lunch.  The kids shouted in unison that they wanted "PIZZA" (again), but I had to let them down because I was out of cheese.  I scoured through my pantry... trying to figure out what to make for lunch.  I grabbed a box of elbow noodles and thought that I would make Pasta E Fagioli... but looked at the little plastic window on the box and put it back.... I was starting to revert to Day 1 when I couldn't stop thinking about all the things that I wanted to make but couldn't.  Then I stopped..... stopped thinking about plastic and started thinking about food.  I made the decision that I would make soup... I had to have everything to make soup!!  I skimmed through a few cookbooks... and then looked at what I had and decided to make my own soup.... no recipes... no ingredient list to follow... Potato, Cannellini and Green Bean Soup.  It was perfect because I used what I already had and it was just what I needed (and wanted).

My afternoon was busy preparing for our camping trip... ever gone camping plastic-free??  Me neither.  Days 6 and 7 of our plastic-free food week will be spent camping... at first, I was super nervous... but after stocking up on bulk snacks, making bread, making graham crackers (YES! I made graham crackers... I'll share the how next post), making chili, shredding (paper wrapped) cheese, and filling glass (juice) bottles with water all today... I think we're about ready! (Note:  I always cook before we go camping... I find it more relaxing to reheat something than to slave over a camp stove while everyone else hangs out... extra work now means I get to chill later ;) )

Based on everything that I was doing to prepare for 2 days of camping, I wanted a simple dinner.  Once again, I had no idea what to make.  I stared at my CSA box hoping for inspiration:

Acorn squash, turnips, sweet potatoes, yellow squash, collards, eggplant, okra (in biobag) and arugula (in biobag- not pictured)

Day 5 Plastic-Free Dinner Menu
Potato and Onion Frittata
Sautéed Okra
Romaine Salad with Carrots and Red Onion

This dinner was the easiest (of all the meals I've made) to make plastic-free.  Everything naturally comes without plastic... no special requests... no plastic alternatives... they're all REAL whole foods... in their purest form... this is one the the best dinners that I never would have made if we hadn't decided to go plastic-free this week.  (Oh yeah, and I would've never bought okra had it not come in my CSA box... cooking okra tonight was a first!!!)

Before I started typing this post... I opened my email to read this:  (I think it's rather fitting... day 5 ;) )

"Starting something new allows us to choose to reset; knowing that with each choice we learn, grow, and move forward."

It's perfect... it says everything that I feel about what I've been accomplishing this week...
Moving forward, learning and growing... :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Plastic-Free Food: Day 4

The rain is still coming down outside... we're supposed to get somewhere around another 8 inches on top of the 10 inches that we got the other day... our rain barrels are officially overflowing.  Our plastic-free food week is going awesome... it's hard to believe we're over half way through the week.  I picked up our CSA (community supported agriculture) box today... often we get a few plastic bags... but I planned ahead and called Ryan with Progressive Gardens last week to make sure that I didn't get any plastic bags in our box.  Instead of plastic bags, they put our arugula and okra in biobags.  YAY!!!  (I'll get pics up tomorrow once I figure out what all I'm going to do with our bounty!)

Our meals were pretty simple today.  Our breakfast was fairly similar to day three.  My husband had an omelet, my daughter and I both had banana peach smoothies (they were rather large), my oldest son had a cinnamon roll and I found a leftover pancake in the freezer for my youngest... the pancakes are officially gone!  For lunch, my kids BEGGED me to make pizzas again like we did on day 2.  While my daughter was spreading the tomato sauce on the whole wheat tortillas she asked me if we could make these pizzas whenever we're not doing the no plastic thing.  OF COURSE!!!  It's a super easy lunch... it's plastic-free... and my kids LOVE it!!

For the past week or so, my kids have been begging me to make chocolate chip cookies and today seemed like the perfect day.  So after lunch, we made chocolate chip cookies!!  When making cookies there are a few things that come in plastic.

#1:  Brown Sugar comes in a plastic bag (or a box with a plastic bag inside)-- a couple of months ago, I didn't have any brown sugar... so I decided to try to make my own.  Making brown sugar is crazy easy... it's one of those things that I'd never buy again plastic or no plastic.  Here's how to make it: measure out the amount of sugar you need (for example: for 1 cup brown sugar just measure 1 cup granulated sugar... I use organic raw sugar bought in bulk).  Put the measured amount of sugar into a food processor and add a bit of molasses-- a little goes a long way (I use blackstrap... it's in a glass jar).

Process the sugar and molasses in the food processor until it resembles brown sugar... of course, add molasses until the desired "brown sugar" (light or dark) is reached.  (The food processor is the easiest method, but I've also made brown sugar using just a bowl and fork.)

Check out the brown sugar that I made with the raw granulated sugar!

#2 Chocolate Chips come in plastic bags-- I took my own container (a yogurt container that I saved to reuse) to Lovey's Market and purchased bulk semi-sweet chocolate chips.

#3 Nuts:  I LOVE nuts in my cookies.  However, I didn't put any in these cookies because my husband prefers them without (BOO!)... but I just wanted to mention nuts because they too can be bought in bulk instead of purchasing them in plastic bags (like the ones sold right next to the chocolate chips ;) )

Did I miss any plastic ingredients??  Hmmm... I've seen vanilla in plastic containers, but the brand I use comes in glass with a metal lid.... 

I'd like to say that we ate our cookies as dessert... but I'll be honest... we ate them straight out of the oven as an afternoon snack.  I ate mine with the almond milk that I made the other day!!!  YUM!!

For dinner, we decided to go out to eat... ok... who am I kidding... we planned on going out to eat after dance (my daughter does a few classes and I do hip hop).  We hit up my favorite place in town:  Flaming Amy's Burrito Barn.  Flaming Amy's is fast, cheap and easy... and oh so yummy!!  Usually when we go to Amy's we end up with about 4 little plastic cups for salsa... tonight I asked them if I could have some small reusable bowls for salsa and asked that they put my daughters dip on her plate instead of in a plastic cup.  No straws, no salsa cups, and no take out containers... we were 100% plastic-free at Flaming Amy's!!!  WOOHOO!!!

Ginger Peach Salsa... mmmm... I'm ready to go back already!!

Plastic-Free Food: Day 3

For the past couple of days, the rain has been coming down here in Wilmington.  We got over 10 inches of rain on Monday and are expected to get another 4-8 inches by Thursday... and as I type the rain is coming down in buckets.  SO... we've been stuck inside... which leaves kids wanting more snacks than usual.  I don't usually have too many plastic wrapped snacks in the house... but we usually have pretzels, string cheese, and some other easy to grab kid snacks.  I normally make granola bars, but the recipe that I use calls for crisp rice cereal... AND... cereal comes in a plastic bag.  SO... for the past couple of days my kids have been snacking mostly on fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts and granola (all bought in bulk... using my own containers).

As the week progresses, I feel like living without foods in plastic is completely attainable for longer than just one week.  Food without plastic really takes some thought... but it's only because new habits are in the process of forming.

For breakfast, I made my husband an omelet... my daughter had an egg  (if you recall, we have our own egg laying hens... but if I do buy eggs I choose paper cartons).  My youngest had a leftover pancake (when I make pancakes... I always make too many and freeze the leftovers).  AND, I made biscuit cinnamon rolls.  I wasn't too crazy about them, but my bread loving 8 year old devoured them...

For lunch, I made more whole-wheat tortillas and the kids and I had PB&J roll ups (peanut butter ground fresh... put in my own glass jar) with fresh fruit-- apples and bananas.  My husband ate the leftover Vegetable Barley Soup and french bread (from day 2).

AND... for dinner?!?!!!...I don't know why I get most excited about dinner.  Maybe it's because it's the end of the day and it is in some sense a culmination of the day's work... my "chef d'oeuvre" to a plastic-free food day.... it's my reminder of what I am accomplishing...

Day 3 Plastic-free Dinner Menu

Romaine Salad with carrots and red onion

Here's how I made it all plastic-free:

I bought the portobello mushrooms, carrots and onions in bulk (using my own bag).  I didn't have any "mock beef broth" so I just used water.  I also didn't use the basil because I don't buy dried basil and I didn't have any fresh.  For the shells and cheese-- which I have to say that I was the most excited about!!-- I bought the pasta bulk (using my own container), I used local milk in reusable glass containers (the cap is plastic), and the gouda was wrapped in paper (per my request).  As far as the salad goes, I chopped up a head of romaine with loose carrots and red onion.

AND... besides being plastic-free... it was on the table in UNDER 20 minutes AND it was all SO YUMMY!!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Plastic-Free Food: Day 2

After my near meltdown on day one and feeling like there was no way that I could go 100% plastic-free with our food... I was nervous about day two... BUT... day two was AWESOME!!  Really all it took was me focusing on what we could eat instead of thinking about all the things that we couldn't eat.  I quickly reminded myself that I did the same thing when I stopped eating meat... focused on all the things I was going to "miss out" on instead of thinking about all of the possibilities.  From experience... I know that the possibilities are endless :)  SO....  Once I stopped thinking about all of the foods that come in plastic... all of these ideas as far as "what" to eat came to me.

So hear is a run down of our plastic-free meals:

One of the easiest and plastic-free breakfasts is a smoothie.  I usually make smoothies with Almond Milk, but almond milk comes in a plastic lined paper container... so there's no buying it.  Sure I could've used local milk... but I'm not a big milk drinker... and prefer almond milk in smoothies.  SO.... I bought raw almonds in bulk and MADE almond milk!!!!!! ;)  To make the smoothie, I just threw in fruit that I had in my freezer...bananas, local blueberries, and local peaches!!  YUM!

Along with our smoothies, my kids also finished up the rest of the pancakes from the previous day.

For lunch, my husband and I had taco salads using romaine that I cut up, black beans, and the leftovers from taco night.  (The taco night leftovers are finally gone... I'm a little bummed... as I don't know what I'll be eating tomorrow)  I made my kids cheese pizzas with the whole wheat tortillas that I made on day one along with applesauce and peaches.  

For the pizzas: My kids spread out some tomato sauce on each tortilla and we topped each tortilla with (paper wrapped) cheddar cheese that I shredded (in my food processor).  I popped the "pizzas" in the oven at 400º until the cheese melted.  My kids LOVED it so much they asked if I would make pizzas EVERYDAY!! 

Ok... now dinner is where I get super excited to share!!  On day one, I was panicking all day about what I was going to make.  BUT... thanks to the rain that was pouring down outside... I knew that I only wanted to make one thing... and that one thing was SOUP!!  So I grabbed a cookbook that I picked up from the library last week, and made vegetable stock.  As I was cutting up the vegetables, I kept thinking how strange it is that I've never made vegetable stock.  I used to make chicken stock all the time and keep it in my freezer... but hadn't made stock since I stopped eating chicken last fall.  Instead, I started BUYING vegetable stock... and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why I've been buying vegetable broth in aseptic containers!!  Besides the house smelling AMAZING... it's so easy to make vegetable stock-- cut up vegetables... throw them in a pot with some water and simmer.  

So here's our Day 2 plastic-free dinner menu:

Vegetable Barley Soup-- I used Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook for the stock and changed up their Vegetable Barley Soup for what I had on hand.  All vegetables and barley used to make the stock and soup were bought unpackaged and never put in a plastic produce bag.

French Bread-- yup!  I busted out my bread machine and threw in the ingredients and let the machine do the work while I made the soup.  The smell of bread baking was.... mmmmm :)

Before I made our soup, I read this quote... and it just made me feel happy about making my soup from start to finish....

"Everybody LOVES soup.  It fortifies the body and soothes the soul.  It's one of those comforting first loves that quietly sustain us from infancy into venerable old age."

Seriously, that soup renewed me :D

If you're interested in our plastic waste from last week... you can check that out here:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Plastic-Free Food: Day 1

Knowing that I was planning on doing a plastic-free food week... last week, I kept all of the plastic that I used throughout the week.  This is what my plastic waste in my kitchen looked like:
I submitted my plastic waste to Fake Plastic Fish:  Show Us Your Plastic Challenge.  I'll post that link whenever it's up.

Sure there are some things there that I normally don't buy.  For example, the Clif Bars, M&M's, and individually wrapped tea were from a road trip to Greenville, SC to see Jason Mraz in concert.  I usually plan our road trips really well... but not taking our 3 children... I really didn't think to bring snacks and this girl was hungry and not stopping at McDonald's for lunch.  Good news.. I never leave home without  my reusable water bottle!!   I'll be prepared with an arsenal of snacks next time!  AND I have to bring up the cookies... when I purchased them, I thought... "Well, I'm going to go plastic free next week... what if it's forever?!  I need to say good-bye to Liz Lovely's Chocolate Moose Dragons."  I LOVE Chocolate Moose Dragons... but I don't love the packaging.

SO... today was day one of buying or using no foods in plastic.  Breakfast and lunch were easy peasy.

  • Lunch:  Quesadillas made with homemade whole-wheat tortillas with maple smoked cheddar wrapped in paper**, sweet corn tomalito and mexican rice (left over from tacos last night... recipes coming soon!) and canned peaches that I made last week!  Note:  The whole wheat tortillas were made without wrapping the dough in plastic wrap-- I used a dishtowel.  I used bulk canola oil in the pan instead of using a spray can.
Now on to dinner.  All day I was stressing about what to make.  My husband is out of town and usually when he's out of town I pick up something easy to make like frozen organic raviolis or Gardein.  BUT... that wasn't an option.  I didn't want to go to the store and I had two butternut squashes sitting on my counter that I got from the Farmers' Market almost 2 weeks ago!!  So I decided to make "Butternut Squash Ravioli."  And by make... I mean make everything... the pasta and the filling.  I made the pasta in my food processor and thought, "hmmm... that's the easiest thing I've ever done."  I let the dough rest and then started the process of rolling it out using my pasta maker (that I got as a gift 8 years ago!!  Thanks MOM!!).  AND... the dough kept tearing and after so many tries... I nearly had a meltdown....and I almost gave up. But, I got my kids to help knead the dough some more and kept running it through the pasta maker and then... MAGIC... beautiful pasta!!!!

Dinner:  Butternut Squash Ravioli served with sautéed zucchini.  I made the ravioli using this recipe with these plastic-free adjustments:

  • Instead of wrapping the dough in plastic wrap, I wrapped it in a dishtowel.
  • I left out the butter. (only because I forgot... oops!)
  • I used local buttermilk (in glass) in place of the marscarpone or cream cheese (both come in plastic)
  • I used Chapel Hill Asiago (wrapped in paper**) in place of the Parm.
  • My thoughts are that none of the dairy ingredients were really needed.  Next time, I'll make it with almond milk and a bit of nutritional yeast.
Day 1 is down... only 6 more to go....tomorrow I'm making Almond Milk!!!

**Last week, I asked the "cheese girl" at my cooperative food market to wrap cheese for me in paper in lieu of plastic... she wrote down my request and Friday after yoga I picked up my plastic-free cheese!! YAY!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 12

Friday evening, as we were heading to the beach we decided to go to Sweet and Savory for dinner.  

Before we started doing beach clean-ups on a regular basis, we were hit or miss with requesting no straws when we ordered our drinks... but seeing how many straws are littered... it just makes sense to start refusing them 100%

 If I take one they make one.  

Now when we order our drinks we say this: "No disposable cups for the kids and no straws."  Suddenly, we've decreased the demand for straws by 5 in just one minute... that's pretty cool.

SO... after our yummy and plastic-free dinner... we went here:

It's 2,619 miles from Wrightsville Beach, NC to Santa Monica Beach, CA where my friend Sara who writes The Daily Ocean is picking up litter on her local beach for 365 non-consectutive days.  A few weeks ago, a reporter from the LA Times called me to talk about Sara and how I came to be inspired by her to start my own Daily Ocean on the opposite side of the country.  Read the AWESOME article that Tony Barboza wrote about Sara and her crusade here.

While picking up cigarette butts my husband and I always talk about our observations.  I think that I should share a few.

* Cigarette butts are well camouflaged.  They're so well camouflaged because their colors-- browns, tans, and whites--match the sand and shells.
The above picture was taken on my knees and zoomed in.  Here's what it looks like just walking by:

 * Cigarette butts have a fear of being alone.  It's true.  It's rare to find a butt all by itself... we find them in groups, pairs, trios and even trails...

* Back to the whole camouflaged thing... so many people don't see the butts on the beach because they blend so well with their surroundings.  We're thinking, "What would the beach look like if cigarette butts were hot pink??"  I'll tell you this much... no one would ever question the fact that there IS a cigarette butt litter problem... on our beaches, in our parks, on our streets, in parking lots, in front of businesses...
Over 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide EVERY YEAR... that's a HUGE problem... not just on Wrightsville Beach.  In a couple of weeks, I'm going to visit Sara and her friend Mark.  Mark is doing something that I'm a huge fan of... creating a solution to the cigarette butt litter problem-- The Bait Tank

20 minutes on September 24, 2010
Cigarette Butts: 951

In this pile are 13 straws.... start refusing straws.  Supply works on demand. ;)

 Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 12 days: 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fueling Abundance

A few years ago, my husband was involved with (our local) Cape Fear Biofuels and used to fill his diesel truck with biodiesel... but for whatever reason (I can't fully remember) he stopped.  Then whenever we started looking at new car for me he decided to call up our local biofuel group because  I really wanted to get a diesel so that I would be able to skip gas stations and fill up with biodiesel.  How cool would that be?  Never having to make a choice about which gas station was "better" (because really they all suck).  But when he called around he found out that members had moved (figuratively and literally).  So... we decided that a Prius was the best fit for me.  And I was am happy with that decision.

THEN... we watched the movie Fuel.  (If you haven't watched it yet... seriously... take the time to watch it!)  My husband got back on the phone...trying to figure out how to get biofuels back in our area and when we went to see Jack Johnson in Raleigh a month ago we made plans to visit Piedmont Biofuels.  We were happy to see and talk with them at the Village Green before the Jack Johnson concert.  So on Sunday morning, we (after being misguided by navigation) made it to Piedmont Biofuels located on Lorax Lane.  YES!  Streets are named after one of my favorite books!!

My husband went on the tour... and I watched our kids play on the playground and walked around...

 and what I saw was more than just about biofuels... back in an industrial park... life was IS thriving.

Life is thriving where fuel is being made!  Just think about it... think about all of the oil in the gulf... think about all of the oil refineries... they look nothing like this....

And the wildlife that is thriving in this eco industrial park as they call it... is just the tip.... we saw bananas, pears and figs growing... worm bins...not to mention the CSA (community supported agriculture) they have going and things such as a chess game made from reused auto (?) parts.   After the tour was over, Lyle showed us some of the different businesses on Lorax Lane.  Thing is... they're all like-minded... this community of businesses work together and support each other... fueling abundance... fueling a local economy.  And I absolutely LOVE it!!  If only they were located by a beach... I'd totally think about moving ;) 

 So what's going to happen now??  What does the future hold for biofuels in my area??  Well, I hate to lead you on... but unfortunately... you'll have to wait and see (or in this case read ;) )

Check out The Abundance Foundation and make plans to stop by (or go on a road trip) to Piedmont Biofuels.  (But don't get confused!  They're one in the same ;) )

Also, a couple of good reads are:

Small is Possible:  Life in a Local Economy

Biodiesel Power

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our Daily Ocean Community: Ginger and Sarah

Not long after I started doing the 20-minute beach clean-ups at Wrightsville Beach that were inspired by my friend Sara who writes The Daily Ocean, I realized the impact of what 20 minutes could do... not just for our beaches, but for our community.  The power to create change in just 20 minutes... is something that I never would have thought of had I not met Sara.  After posting our 7th day picking up litter, Ginger of The Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project posted this: 

"It starts with me!
I have highlighted Danielle's blog several times in this newsletter and yet I feel compelled to do so again. I am so impressed and inspired by her dedication to clean litter from Wrightsville Beach that I am thinking about joining her. Why not pick up cigarette butts for 20 minutes a day, two days a week?"

Why not!?  I loved it... and I got excited about the idea!!!  Over the weekend, Ginger and her husband went to Access 32 at Wrightsville Beach and collected 1 lb 7.3 oz of various litter* including 142 cigarette butts, 20 bottle caps 2 balloons and many other pieces of trash.  (*The litter weight is being added to The Daily Ocean Community Collection).  

Then at the other end of the beach, my friend Sarah visited Accesses 16 and 17.  Sarah didn't go to the beach to pick up trash... she went there with her family and decided to take 20 minutes and pick up litter at the beach.  Unlike Ginger, Sara is new to picking up litter on the beach.  Her first impression of picking up litter at the beach?  "I was shocked at how much there was and how much I got in such a short time."  

Sarah sent me her thoughts and observations about picking up litter and counting butts.  Here's what she has to say:

"I was surprised at how nice people were and several beachgoers actually thanked me and wanted to know why I was doing it.  My kids also got into the spirit and once I told them that plastic harmed sea turtles, they were off.  AND I think they are forever cured of smoking-- they think cig butts are the nastiest thing on the planet. 

Here are a couple of other observations I had.  The recycle bins by access 16 at the pier were pretty well used.  The trash bins really only had nonrecyclable stuff in them like broken chairs and umbrellas.  The cans by accesses 17 and 18 were FULL of plastic and cans.  Could WB put recycle bins at all the accesses?  I know the initial cost to put them up would be something, but they are well used at the entrance by the pier and this should show it is worth it.  Also, why do people think burying plastic straws and straw wrappers is disposal?  I think they thought if it did not blow away that it wasn't littering. (It IS!!)  We found lots of straws stuck down into the sand too.  i just am not sure where people's heads are.  
Are they just unaware or do they really not care?

The cigarette butt total from Access 16 was 211 and from Access 17 was 218.  

I think it would have been higher if I had been able to get between all the people.  Next time I want to go later in the evening after more people have left.... 
I am totally inspired to go again soon."

That totally made me smile :D  Inspired by Ginger and Sarah... I've added "The Community Butt Count" to the sidebar.  Check it out... ;)

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 25, 2010

The first beach clean-up that I ever participated in was Big Sweep.... Big Sweep is statewide in North Carolina and part of the International Coastal Clean-up that involves approximately 90 countries and 55 states and territories.  The great thing about participating in an organized clean-up is being part of a large community of people who come together for a common purpose:

To clean our beaches and waterways.  

If you live locally in Wilmington check out the flyer and join us!!  If you don't live in my community... you can still participate in the International Coastal Clean-up... you can find an organized clean-up here!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 11

On Saturday, my husband, three children and I headed out to Wrightsville Beach for yet another 20 minute beach clean-up... after not being able to find a parking spot at the access I really wanted to go to... we settled on Access 20:

Let me just say... I thoroughly believe that everything happens for a reason... we were supposed to go to Access 20.  I, obviously, had no idea how popular of an access it really is... but just looking at the trashcan there (overflowing) and looking at the other trashcans just a couple of accesses down (near empty)... it was obvious that Access 20 is a pretty popular hang out spot.  One trashcan doesn't seem to be enough for Access 20.

Look at all of those recyclables AND Lid? Lid??  Where's the lid??  Sara asks that same question often on The Daily Ocean.
It didn't take long for us to start finding cigarette butts... I think that our eyes are becoming trained to see the butts camouflaged in the sand.  While picking up some butts, some men told me thank you and then looked around and picked up the butts that they saw around them and added them to my bucket :D

The tide was going out and my husband and daughter found a patch of cigarette butts just like the 10x10 area that I came across on Day 10... a whole section of hundreds of butts.  But there wasn't just one section... there were patches all along the beach where we just sat down and scooped up butts by the handfuls.  Move all the sticks and grasses we found more butts underneath... running my fingers through the sand... even more.
There were so many patches of these cigarette butt "gold mines" that we split up to take them on.  As my husband was walking he passed by a bunch of "college"(??) guys.  My husband noticed one smoking and at his feet were a bunch of butts stuck into the sand.  My husband says to him:  "Hey man, you're not going to leave those there are you?"  And the guy replies, "Oh, no man, I'll take them with me... I was going to get them."  With that, my husband puts the butts in the guy's hand and says thanks.  (Yes, my husband ROCKS!!)

When I first started this whole collecting cigarette butt thing... I really just wanted to help bring more awareness to the problem of cigarette butt litter/pollution on my local beach with the hopes of helping to get a smoking ban passed. What I didn't expect was how bad the problem really is.  When I say that "we were supposed to go to Access 20"... I say that because for the first time since we started this, my kids were running to the buckets with handfuls of butts instead of just a few.  We sent our kids off with their own bucket and all 3 of our buckets were overflowing.  There were SO many butts that had we not had a time limit... there would have been no end in sight... it makes me sad.

BUT... even though I'm sad... I'm happy because I'm doing something about it.... I don't feel helpless about this issue.  AND... I want to do MORE... the other night, with inspiration given to me back at the beginning of this project from my good friend (Tracy you're my personal psychic ;) !!)....I entered the Brita FilterforGood Film Project.  Check out my entry here and voting begins on October 11!!

20*minutes on September 19, 2010

Litter picked up by weight:  3 lbs 7 oz

Cigarette butts: 1,833  (I didn't have time to be shocked by this number...I saw the buckets... I knew it was going to be a big number.  I keep saying to myself that I need a day where we just find 200... and I think that's a pretty sad thought... because 200 still sucks.)

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 11 days:

*My kids were sitting in a huge pile of cigarette butts when I said, "Time's up."  They looked up at me and said, "But MOM... we can't leave these here.  There's hundreds"  They were right.  I let them finish the section they were at... which took a little over 5 minutes longer.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 10

It's been almost a week since we've been to Wrightsville Beach.  Last Friday when we went for a 20 minute clean-up and interview with Lumina News (check out the article here)... we discovered that 2 of our kids were quite sick.  BOO! Now that everyone is back to their healthy selves, it was time to get back to the beach!!  YAY!!

While on the beach... I said to myself, "How many more pictures of cigarette butts can I take??"  

I LOVE Wrightsville Beach... it's absolutely beautiful.  I don't think that I say that enough here.  I LOVE it so much that I just don't understand how people can trash it.

After walking a bit and following a trail of cigarette butts (if I haven't mentioned it yet... there is always a trail of butts), I came upon this:

So I started picking up butts... then I looked in front of me... then to my left... and all I could see was butts.

So I sat... and I sat... and I scooted... as I picked up over 200 cigarette butts in a 10'x10' area.  There's something so wrong with that....

My daughter in the background... and butts in the foreground.

After every 20 minute clean-up, I've calculated our averages.  On average we're picking up 356 butts per day... OR... almost 18 butts per minute.  18 butts PER MINUTE!!  And we're not even "all business"... I take play... our kids never forget to have fun.  It's the beach... that's what it's for ;)

My son saw a tent stake bag in the grasses... and a game ensued.

20 minutes on September 16, 2010

Cigarette Butts: 625  (I don't know what is going on :(... )

This is a close up of the "group" picture... check out the entire "group" photo on Facebook.
Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 10 days: