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:

11,744