Thursday, December 30, 2010

Plastic-Free Recipe: Burger Buns

Since the end of September, I've been striving (that means making a conscious effort) to purchase no foods in plastic.  By the way, if you haven't seen my guest post on Fake Plastic Fish My Plastic Free Life ... please check it out and share :) Collect Your Plastic. Change Your Life.   Over the past few months, one thing that I've struggled with is bread making... and I had even succumbed to purchasing some in plastic during the past few months... but I'm over it... I'm no longer purchasing bread in plastic...and tonight I wanted burgers... so I had to make buns!!!!  

For real... I made homemade burger buns with my two hands!!  
(Is my excitement shining through??)  
I have to say that when I found the recipe... I was cautiously optimistic as I've looked up so many bread recipes these past few months... only to learn that I can cook and I can bake... but I fail in my bread making skills.  BUT... after the dough rose, and I formed buns... and the smell filled the house... I learned tonight that I CAN make bread!!!  Happy Dance!!!!! :D 

Recipe from: Ultimate Veggie Burgers
Makes 8 buns


1 cup warm water

2 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP honey

130 g whole wheat flour (I used Whole Wheat Pastry Flour)

260 g bread flour

1 tsp salt

1 TBSP yeast


  1. Mix together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle.
  2. To dissolve the honey, mix it into the warm water.  Add the honey water into the well, then add the olive oil.
  3. Mix everything together by hand to form a dough ball.
  4. Knead the dough by hand for about ten minutes. 
  5. Let the dough rise in a bowl until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  6. Divide dough into 8 pieces (do this by cutting the dough in half, then quarter each half). Roll out to flatten each piece. To form a ball, bring 2 opposite ends together and then bring the other 2 ends together.
  7. Place the dough balls seam side down on a baking sheet.  Cover with a towel and let buns rest until they rise. (about 1 hour) 
  8. Bake in pre-heated 375F/190C oven for 15 minutes.
By this point this should come as no shock... dinner tonight ROCKED!!  

I was dancing in my kitchen because I was so over-the-top excited about my victory! ;)  Check out my 100% Plastic-Free and oh so YUMMY dinner!!!!  
Homemade Black Bean Burgers on my homemade buns, with roasted potatoes and green beans!!! YAY!!  

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 34

My kids are all going through different phases with this whole 20 minute clean up project.  My oldest son (who's 8) is over it.  My 6 year old daughter is in the supervisor stage... meaning she points stuff out and draws in the sand a lot.  And... the once most difficult to get to youngest son (4 years old) has become the biggest help.  Out of everything we're doing... he seems to be connecting the most with the project.  From his photos on Day 33 to him saying, "Aww man, it's wrapped in plastic" about a game he received for Christmas.

But even though they're at different stages in how they help or how they feel about the project... they always manage to have a fun time at the beach.... and everything is always more fun with friends!! Yesterday, my friend Tracy and her daughter, Emma (aka Claire's best friend) met us at Wrightsville Beach Access 36.

Since we started doing our 20 minute clean-ups at the beginning of August, we've removed 40 pounds 13.4 ounces of litter from Wrightsville Beach, NC.

Every weight has been added to The Daily Ocean Community Count.  I just checked and the Community Collection on The Daily Ocean was up to 769.8 lbs in 101 days!!!  

My friend Sara who writes The Daily Ocean blog has collected 706.6 lbs in 181 days.  That's 20 minutes at a time... and with her two hands alone!!!  
Did you know that Sara and her amazing husband, Garen, are going to be sailing across the South Pacific Gyre to study plastics with 5 Gyres this spring??  With 80 days to go they still need to raise $19,980. 

20 minutes on December 28, 2010

315 cigarette butts

For more details about the photos, check out the "It Starts With Me" Facebook page.

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 34 days:


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Repurpose That Ribbon!!!

Last week, I collected all of our plastic waste for the week.... including plastics that came from Christmas gifts.  Our total for the week added up to 37 pieces of plastic.  (If you recall, back in September I collected ONLY our kitchen plastic waste for the week and we had 40 pieces of plastic.)

Most plastic that we accumulated during last week-- for the most part-- aren't things that we can reuse.  BUT.... there are a few things that we can repurpose... like a ribbon that was on a gift.  Sure we could save it and reuse it for when we gift something... but I'm not all into that whole wrapping gifts thing and I know that most likely the ribbon would find its way to the landfill (or worse... littered!!).

 Sooooo.... yesterday... I asked my daughter if she wanted to make her Christmas ornament for the year.  (of course, she said "Definitely!!")  She went outside to our side porch where we have flower pots filled with sea shells... yes, my kids pick up more than litter at the beach!!! ;)  She picked out seashells that had holes in them.... cut the ribbon.... and then she made this....

Better than any premade ornament that we could ever buy in a store :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 33

Merry Christmas!!  After the gifts were opened and our kids played for hours... we drove to Wrightsville Beach to do a 20 minute clean up with my brother and his girlfriend.  
Unlike us, where it takes us about 15-20 minutes to get to Wrightsville Beach... my brother LIVES at the beach.  Lucky boy.  So as we were driving to the beach... my brother (Ryan) and his girlfriend (Gabby) took a walk down the beach strand picking up litter as they walked.  During their walk they stayed at the top of the beach... close to the dunes... and by picking up litter as they walked they removed an overflowing paper grocery bag of litter including balloons, condoms, aluminum cans, plastic bags, degraded plastics, straws, bottle caps, rope, styrofoam... the list goes on.  All together the two of them collected 5 lbs 4.9 oz of litter including 86 cigarette butts.  Once we made it to the beach, they were at Stone Street (Access 29)... so we picked them up and we all drove to the far south end of the beach-- Access 43
Today was the first day that my brother did a clean up with us.  He's one that usually doesn't notice the litter... but between me and Gabby... he's getting trained. ;)  This was also the first time that my husband has been to Access 43 to do a clean up with us.  He, our three kids, my brother and Gabby all headed right to the sand dunes... I made a left and headed straight to the ocean.
The view above was to my right... the view below is what I saw when I turned back over my left shoulder...
Did you know that aluminum (and steel cans) are lined with BPA??  Seriously.  No joke.

The past couple of times we've been to the beach... we've seen the number of cigarette butts on the beach start to decline.  I expected the same to happen today... guess that would've taken a Christmas miracle... because as soon as I saw the wrack line and moved some of the organic debris... I knew that today's numbers weren't going to be low. :(

Under all that vegetative debris was over 50 cigarette butts along with Styrofoam, bottle caps, and straws.
The past week I've been collecting my plastic waste for the Fake Plastic Fish "Show Us Your Plastic Challenge"... I've really been striving to reduce the amount of plastics that our family of 5 uses and while I know where I want to be with our plastic consumption.... there is no better way to know where you're going then to see where you've been :)  Every time we do litter clean ups... I'm reminded of all of the plastic products that we no longer use...  from bottled waters to straws... and two of our other most common finds... zip lock bags (haven't used in nearly 6 years) and individually wrapped snacks...
Ziplock bag.
Larabar. (make them instead!!)

For Christmas, my four year old son got his first camera.  He wanted to take it to the beach today... little did I know he's been paying attention and learning from what we've been doing.... check out his view here.

20 minutes on December 25, 2010

Cigarette butts: 720

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 33 days:


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 32

In an effort to "spice up" our 20 minute clean ups, I'm really trying to go to accesses that we haven't been to before.  Of course, I still want to hit up the regulars like accesses 16 and 36... but I'm thinking it'll be interesting-- if not fun-- to visit every access.  Sooo.... after the dentist and lunch, my kids and I parked at access 16 and walked under Johnnie Mercer's Pier to....
It was one of those days that I always refer to as a "deceiving day"... beautiful blue skies... looks like a perfect summer day... then you go outside and are reminded that it's winter.  Based on how cold it was... I was really surprised by how many cars were in the parking lot and even more surprised to see many groups of people on the beach. (some looked like they were going to have a picnic!! and yes, they had loads of plastic grocery bags :( )  I suppose people are in town visiting for the holidays... and you can't visit our area without going to the beach.  ;)
Unlike people from out of town... we can go to the beach anytime we choose. :)  Today, wasn't a day that I would normally choose to go to the beach...besides being cold... there was a northerly wind that just cut right through us.  Because of the wind, my kids were done after about 10 minutes.  They found a plastic sand shovel and began to play....eventually making their way back under the pier...they got sidetracked... forgot about the cold and came running to me with straws and 2 beer bottles.
I also found a plastic fork under the pier and it got me thinking.  There are all of these products made to make our lives more "convenient," but I wonder... how convenient do they really make our lives??  Is it really that big of a deal to wash a fork??  I don't get it. 
We're using all these disposable products... because we've been convinced that we need them... that somehow our lives will be easier.  But the truth is... we're filling up our land with trash... littering our beaches, waterways, roadways, streets, sidewalks, parks.... oceans.... polluting our air and water... poisoning ourselves (and the animals we share this Earth with)...    All for convenience of making our already busy lives easier or being able to "not have to deal" with cleaning something.  But it seems to me-- and this is my opinion-- that this mess created for convenience doesn't really make our lives easier because in the end we're just putting off what we should have done today... and this mess of "convenience" is a lot harder to clean up.... 

Disposable products don't fit in an indisposable world.
20 minutes on December 23, 2010

Cigarette butts: 69 (and the numbers keep dropping!!!)

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 32 days:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 31

Over a year ago--long before I started doing 20 minute beach clean ups at Wrightsville Beach-- I started this blog as a way to share with my family and friends the little things that I do and the changes that I make in order to make a positive impact on the world we live in.  The idea is simple... 

"What we do (or don't do) has an impact on the world we live in."  

The 20 minute clean ups have essentially become a MAJOR reflection of the power of what one person can do.... we can choose to be a solution... or we can take an alternate path...

Last week, Shannan Bowen wrote a really nice article-- Filmmaker targets cigarette litter, smoking at the beach-- about me and my project for The Star News (that's our local newspaper).  What I love about the article is that Shannan was able to-- from a brief phone interview/conversation-- really tell the whole story of this project.... and when I read it... I can honestly say that it made me feel like I'm doing part of something important.  :)

After running some errands-- we're beginning a bathroom remodel!!-- we headed to Wrightsville Beach Access 28 for our 31st clean up!  I wanted to do a clean up at 28 because I'm really wanting to try to start going to the accesses that we haven't done clean ups at yet.... 

AND.... I thought we hadn't been to 28... ooopss... I was wrong.  But... I'm glad I was wrong because I learned something today.... 

hint: the lesson is in the numbers.
The last time we went to Access 28 was on September 24, 2010... our 12th day.  On that day, we collected 14.8 oz of litter and 951 cigarette butts.  Twas the season. 
 Today, December 19, is a different season.  The amount of fresh cigarette butts have started to disappear.... finding instead... old withered filters.... slowly breaking down over time...
Not to keep repeating myself... but for anyone who doesn't know.... cigarette filters are made from a material called "Cellulose Acetate."  Thousands of (plastic) fibers that will never biodegrade.  Nope.  NEVER.  So what happens when the cigarette filters get smaller and smaller??  It's called photodegradation.  (That's what's happening with the plastics in the oceans.)  The filters photodegrade into smaller pieces... BUT... the source material-- cellulose acetate-- never disappears.  Instead, it becomes diluted in our environment... becoming part of our environment.
That's OUR environment.  That's the environment we put our feet to every day...

Just because we can't "see" a problem... doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.  And just because we can't "see" a solution doesn't mean that one doesn't exist.

Want to make a difference in (Y)OUR world... it's easy... and you don't even need a special degree to do it... 

20 minutes on December 19, 2010
Cigarette butts: 77 (do you see what I learned today??)
Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 31 days:


Monday, December 13, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 30

From Wednesday to Friday, we spent our time filming for the short film that has been inspired by my project... which I realized has turned out to be about "me."  Hmmm...  I'm always talking about what the power of one person can do... but even for me it's hard to wrap my head around all of this... I just do what I do... I don't think that I've done anything special... or amazing. I've only chosen to share my voice (thank you to everyone who chooses to listen)...and that's something that we can ALL do... no matter who we are, who we know, or where we're from....
On Friday, we went to Wrightsville Beach access 4 for a Paddle of Support... it was a nice way to end the week... at the beach with some old friends and new friends.  The Paddle of Support was organized by Kevin of Ocean Cure.  (Ocean Cure is up for a Pepsi Refresh Grant... please take the time to vote for them and share what they're doing). 

Now that the film crew Destin, Brett and Ron are gone... so are the cameras... so is the media... and life is back to "normal".....
On Sunday, my husband decided that he wanted to go to Wrightsville Beach to go surfing.  So while he was in the water our kids played in the sand and I did a 20 minute clean up at Access 36-- just me and my two hands.

I've seen my fair share of disposable coffee cups lately... it's cold... people want something hot to drink... I get it.  What I don't get is how people just throw their trash on the ground.
 But here's an idea... what if we didn't have to create trash?? (we don't)  It's so simple to take a reusable coffee mug/cup/thermos to your favorite coffee shop.  I've been telling everyone I know about our favorite insulated water bottle by Kleen Kanteen that can double as a coffee/tea/hot chocolate mug by adding the cafĂ© cap. Seriously, it's AWESOME because it keeps things super hot... or super cold... and best of all it's not going to be littered ;)

It had been raining since Saturday morning... the skies were dark and dreary... but as usual at Wrightsville Beach... they were.... hmmm.... yeah... more than amazing....
Check out this balloon that I found on Wrightsville Beach.  Balloons may be fun, but (unfortunately) balloons are meant to fly.  But just because they are meant to fly doesn't mean that they'll fly forever.  Nope.  They eventually fall to land... or sea... and are serious threat to wildlife-- through ingestion and entanglement. :(  Whether released accidentally or purposefully... a released balloon is a littered balloon. (Here's a video about a pygmy sperm whale that was rescued 17 years ago... her cause of illness is one that we can all control.)

Everything we do (or don't do) impacts the world we live in... 
it's that simple.

20 minutes on December 12, 2010
Cigarette butts: 103

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 30 days: 


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 29

Hmmmm... where to start???  The past two days have been unlike any other days that I have ever had... or will ever have.  Who would've ever guessed that picking up after other people would make all of this happen... but here I am... here we are...
Ron, Destin, (me), and Brett with my 3 kids... can you tell we're all freezing?!?!
(Thanks to my amazingly supportive husband for taking the photo!!)
I spent my morning doing interviews and showing off my over 11,000 cigarette butts for the short film that is being made because my project was voted as a winner in the Brita FilterForGood Film Project.  I'm extremely grateful for this opportunity... and can't even begin to put into words what the experience really means to me... hmmmm.... something like this:

"As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over. So in a series of kindness there is, at last, one which makes the heart run over." ~ James Boswell 

My heart is running over :)

As usual, Wrightsville Beach was absolutely beautiful... the sky was so stunning.  I wish I had more pictures... BUT...with everything going on... picture reality TV crew or paparazzi...  I forgot my camera in my car. :(  Oh well... the whole thing was filmed...YAY!!.... and that's even better than me taking photos of countless bits of litter and cigarette butts.
Brett took this photo of a littered balloon for me... Thanks Brett!! :)

Oh... and completely have to say how cold it was at Wrightsville Beach.  Could it have been worse??  Definitely, but still 39˚ is too cold for this girl!!  (My feet are missing my Rainbows!!)  So.... when we walked onto the beach, I made the joke that we should just pick up for about 10 minutes and leave.  But, of course, we didn't.  There was surprisingly too much to pick up (and my kids were having so much fun being filmed).  With it being so cold... even at Access 16...I had this thought that it wasn't going to be that bad...that we weren't going to find much to pick up...

I guess I was wrong.

20 minutes on December 8, 2010
Litter by weight: 12.8oz
Cigarette Butts: 262

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 29 days: 


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Our Daily Ocean: Day 28

On Thursday, I went to the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting to listen to and support the recommendations of WB Cleaner Greener Committee.  I didn't get to stay for the whole meeting, but was really happy to hear that they showed my "Litter Awareness"  video during their presentation.... AND....  I am absolutely thrilled that the committee has recommended a "Smoke-free" beach to the BOA!!!
I'm super excited (and hopeful) about the possibility of a "smoke-free" beach... BUT... it's not a reality.  So, after seeing the article about the meeting in the Star News... I along with my husband both decided to write letters to the editor in support of Cleaner Greener WB's recommendations of a "Smoke-Free" beach!!  It was my very first letter to the editor!!  Check it out here!!!!

On Friday, I also talked to WendĂ© who's the City Manager of Solana Beach, California.  Did you know that Solana Beaches were the first beaches in California to ban smoking on the beach??  And they did that back in 2003!!  Talk about being a leader in California!!  If Wrightsville Beach were to adopt a "Smoke-Free" beach... it would be the first in North Carolina!!  That's a pretty big title to have.... "FIRST" :)  I can see the headlines now....
An old weathered butt... the paper is still attached, but the cellulose acetate fibers are starting to fray.

Today, my family and I went to Access 37...we picked up litter just up to the Oceanic Pier.  Since we always clean up under the pier when we visit Access 36, we made the decision that under the pier is part of Access 36 (as far as 20 minute clean-ups go anyway ;)).  Should I mention that it was 43˚ and windy at the beach today??  The only people that were on the beach were us, a couple with a photographer, and 2 people walking....
20 minutes on December 5, 2010
Cigarette butts: 231
Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 28 days: