Sunday, January 30, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 40

Guess what?!?  Another milestone!!  Today I did my fortieth 20 minute clean up at Wrightsville Beach!!  With feverish kids, my husband stayed home and  I met up with my friend Bonnie (of The Plastic Ocean) and her friend Goffinet (from Pawley's Island, SC) at Access 16.

Goffinet and Bonnie in front of Johnnie Mercer's Pier
I was really excited about heading out to the beach today because the weather was GORGEOUS!!! (near 70's!!!)  And while I love the beach and have done clean ups in 30 degree weather... it sure is a lot more enjoyable when I can feel my fingers and my nose isn't cold and red ;)  I had such a great time talking to Bonnie and Goffinet about our common efforts and how together we can do SO much more... 

 I hadn't been out to do a clean up at Wrightsville Beach since before my husband and I went to the Sundance Film Festival....but that doesn't mean that Wrightsville Beach didn't receive the gift of a 20 minute clean up.  During the filming of my FilterForGood Film back in December... Holly, Jeremy and Courtney drove down from Holly Springs, NC to support my project.  (How cool is that?!)  Last weekend, they visited Wilmington to tour Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise... and they also made it to Wrightsville Beach to do a 20 minute clean up at Johnnie Mercer's Pier... while it was snowing!!!!!  They had to sort down through the snow... but they managed to get all this litter... which included 30 cigarette butts :)  YAY!!!!
Courtney at the pavilion at Access 16 on January 22, 2011:)
My friend Julie, along with her husband and two young children, have also been busy cleaning up Wrightsville Beach.  Yesterday, they went to Access 8 and removed litter including 11 straws and 64 cigarette butts.  They also made it out to Wrightsville Beach today!!  AND... guess where they went?!!!  The ever popular Johnnie Mercer's Pier where they picked up 201 cigarette butts!!!  What I find so interesting about that number is that I met Bonnie and Gaffinet at that same spot around 11am... and Julie and her family were there just a few hours after us!!  I would've thought that Bonnie, Gaffinet and I had cleared that area of it's butts... obviously not.

20 minutes on January 30, 2011
Litter by weight: 1 lb 6 oz
Cigarette butts: 264
Total amount of cigarette butts picked up on Wrightsville Beach, NC in 40 days:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Last Mountain

Back in May, I posted two times about mountain top coal removal-- Flip 'Em Off! and End Mountain Top Removal.

So you can imagine my excitement when we arrived in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival to find out that Brita had given us tickets to see the world premier of the documentary "The Last Mountain." (YAY!!  Thanks Brita!!)  Having read up on the topic, I wasn't shocked by what I saw... although it pained me to see the horrible truths of the coal industry on the big screen... I was completely devastated by what the coal industry is doing to the health of the people in Coal River Valley.  (...and really all across our nation.)

At the end of the film, there was a Q&A with the director... activist that was in the film said, "Now you know.  You have to do something."

Soooo... I thought to myself... what can *I* do???  What can WE do???

A good first step is to become aware that we are ALL connected to this problem.  Find your connection to mountain top coal removal at  Then take social action through conserving, helping and supporting the groups in Appalachia, and taking political action.

To learn more about the problems of mountain top coal removal and how you  WE can make a difference.... visit: The Last Mountain: Social Action

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It Starts With Me

Over the weekend, my husband and I went to the Sundance Film Festival courtesy of the Brita FilterForGood Film Project.  We had such a great time at the Festival... saw some really great films-- The Last Mountain, Win Win, Higher Ground, Being Elmo and The Lie... made new friends and of course, got to see the film that was inspired by my efforts at Wrightsville Beach, NC.  To say that I LOVE it... could be an understatement ;)  I am so grateful that Destin completely saw and understands who I am and was able to convey (better than I could have ever imagined) who I am and why I do what I do....

Destin, Brett and Ron are remarkably talented... and while I may be no critic... I can certainly critique myself... and I've watched the film so many times and haven't once went to critique anything.  I can only keep saying that they made everything "so beautiful." Also, the music-- which I've been referring to as beautiful, inspiring and hopeful-- in the film was composed by Joel P. West... like Destin, Brett and Ron... I'd invite him to our home anytime.  He's part of The Tree Ring who will be releasing their album in February.  Check them out :)

My friends Sara and Mark are in the film along with my family. Please take the time to learn about what they're doing :)  You can find Sara at The Daily Ocean and Mark at The Bait Tank.

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to vote for my project back in October and for all of the support (and friends that I've made) since... 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 39

Earlier today, I met Katie Harden of WWAY at Wrightsville Beach to talk about my Brita FilterForGood short film and how I'm feeling about going to the Sundance Film Festival this weekend.  While I talked to Katie, my Mom-- who, along with my sister, is visiting from St. Louis-- picked up litter at Access 36... AND...nearly all of today's litter was picked up by my Mom!!!  YAY!!!

Thanks to everyone that took the time to vote for my project back in October, my project is now a short film... and we're leaving tomorrow morning for the Sundance Film Festival where my short film will be screened at the Brita FilterForGood event on Saturday... hmmm... I have a feeling there's going to be lots of happy dances this weekend ;)
One thing that Katie asked me is what my hopes are for the film.  Of course, I want the film to help raise awareness of the cigarette butt litter issue... but after much rambling... my response led me back to the reason that I started this blog:  To inspire people to want to make a difference in our world.  Even if it's something as simple as saying, "No straws, please." ;)
Last week, I saw the poster that they'll be using to promote the short film inspired by my project "me"... it's absolutely stunning and I wish I could share it with everyone. (but I can't just yet)  One thing that I can share is the title of the film... something Destin had asked if I would be ok with back in December while we were filming.... of course, I was over-the-top ecstatic to see that Destin decided to title the film: "It Starts With Me" (...I can't stop smiling)

20 minutes on January 20, 2011

Litter by weight: 13.1 oz
101 cigarette butts

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 39 days:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 38

On our way home from Tidal Creek and Flaming Amy's... I took a detour.  My kids asked, "Where are we going??"  My reply:  To the beach, of course. ;)
Although the weather was really nice today... there surprisingly weren't many people at Wrightsville Beach.  BUT there were signs that people were there.... we picked up nearly 20 cigarette butts just by the "Greensboro" bench at Access 17.
And while cigarette butts are the #1 littered item that we find... it's never just cigarette butts.  There's always other various plastics to be found... styrofoam, straws, bottle caps, wrappers, plastic bags, and other random "??" plastics like this piece that my son stuck on the end of a feather:

Last night, I watched a really great and inspiring video about a couple that has been collecting plastic off of their beach in Northern California for the past 10 years...

What they do with everything that they find is so impressive and gives me inspiration for all of the plastic bottle caps I've been collecting....

20 minutes on January 19, 2011
Litter by weight: 7.6 oz
Cigarette butts: 200  

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 38 days:

Monday, January 17, 2011

90 Days to Earth Day

Want to get your kids involved in helping clean up their world??  Join the 90 Days to Earth Day Challenge!!  It doesn't matter where you live... this is a COAST to COAST challenge and all K-12 students are invited to participate!!  Of course, I've registered my 3rd and 1st grade children for the challenge.  They're both super excited and we've decided to expand our clean up efforts beyond the beach because.... all drains to the ocean.

90 Days to Earth Day   

Attention Grades K-12

3rd Annual 90 Days to Earth Day challenge begins January 22

The challenge? To pick up as much litter as possible between January 22 and Earth Day, April 22, focusing on trash that is closest to making its way into our life support system – the ocean.

Streams, creeks, rivers, the Intracoastal Waterway and beaches are the targets of Ocean Cure’s annual 90 Days to Earth Day challenge. A local non-profit best known for providing surf camps to medically fragile and at-risk youth, Ocean Cure removed two-and-a-half tons of trash during its annual clean-up challenge in 2009 and 2010, recycling 80 percent of it. Now in its third year, 90 Days to Earth Day hopes to attract an unprecedented number of participants from North Carolina’s coastal region, making the first two years look more like a “warm-up” session. Participating grade K-12 students will have the opportunity to win prizes donated by local area businesses, with those completing a photo or video essay of their trash collection efforts eligible to win the grand prize, a week-long surf camp and Engrain surfboard from Indo Jax Surf and Kiteboard School.

here for rules and registration forms. Please fill out the registration form and mail it to Kevin Murphy at 607 N. Lake Park blvd. Carolina Beach, NC 28428. Any questions please contact him at 910-431-0594 or  **The challenge starts this Saturday, Jan. 22... send your registration form in ASAP!! :)

The ocean provides much of the food, water and oxygen we need to survive. It absorbs half of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that we pump into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels and most of the extra heat produced by the greenhouse effect.

Get involved. Your efforts will make a difference. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 37

It's crazy to think that just a few short months ago, my FilterForGood Film Project was being voted on... and my project being made into a short film was just a possibility.  But now, the possibility has become a reality and next weekend we will be at the Sundance Film Festival to see my project as a short film directed by Destin Cretton.  (squeeee!!)

We haven't been to Wrightsville Beach in over a week because--on Monday-- our area got hit with a winter storm.  We were originally supposed to get an accumulation of less than an inch of snow... but somehow we ended up getting 6 inches!!!  With the snow and cold temperatures, we stayed clear of the beach and found other things to do like go sledding in our backyard.   BUT... today the weather was actually kind of nice... so we made a visit to Access 29!!  As we were walking around the shoreline, my kids came across this little party on the.... errr... buried in the sand.   Hmmm... I don't think that I should have to say this... but... even if someone takes the time to bury their litter... it's STILL litter!!! 
(sorry about the grainy photos... I completely spaced and forgot my camera!!)
For the entire 52 weeks of 2011, I am collecting my plastic waste to share on "My Plastic Free Life" Show Your Plastic Challenge.   Every time I go to the beach, I always am reminded why I am making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of plastics that we use...  
When we stop accepting the products that litter our streets, our beaches, our parks.... our world... then we effectively start changing a system that isn't working.  Plastic pollution is a global problem... but in order to fix a global problem...we have to start local... and it doesn't get more local than your own home.  I encourage everyone to take the Show Your Plastic Challenge... no guilt... no judging... just an opportunity to become conscious of the things we can change... one step at a time.  My thought process: 

If we don't like something...we need to stop talking about how much we don't like it... and actively work to change it.  
(Example: Think plastic in our oceans sucks?... think littered roadways look trashy?... stop supporting those products... it's as simple as saying "No Thank You".)

On another note, it's dog days of winter at Wrightsville Beach.  We didn't take our dogs to the beach today, but they were certainly happy that some forgetful dog owners left this frisbee and 3 tennis balls.
I'm naturally an animal lover... we have 3 dogs.  BUT.... I'm not a lover of dog poo on the beach.    There was so much today... in the grasses, the tideline, randomly on the sand... shoot my kids almost stepped in some a few times... Besides the obvious reason for disliking dog poo on the beach (or other places!!), the bacteria in the feces contaminates our waters.... yuck!!  

20 minutes on January 15, 2011

Cigarette butts: 66
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 37 days:


Monday, January 10, 2011

Plastic-Free Tomato Soup

Something about cold winter days that makes me long for a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup.  Growing up making tomato soup used to consist of opening a can of condensed tomato soup and then slicing velveeta (??!!) for our grilled cheese sandwiches.  Yeah, no... we don't do that anymore!!

When I was at Tidal Creek, I noticed strained tomatoes in glass jars.... with paper wrapped local hoop cheese in my cart... I couldn't resist the thought of hot tomato soup with oooey gooey cheese.... a perfect comfort food.... and completely plastic-free!!!! :D

Creamy Tomato Soup

2 TBSP butter (or oil)                                                   2  24-oz jars of strained tomatoes
1 small onion, diced                                                      Pinch of baking soda
1 rib of celery, diced                                                     2 cups homemade vegetable stock or water
Pinch of ground cloves                                                 1 1/2 cups milk (to desired creaminess)
1 1/2 tsp dried herbs, basil or tarragon are nice             Salt and Pepper
2 TBSP flour                                                                Tomato paste, if needed 

Melt butter in medium size pot over medium heat.  Add onion, celery and spices; stirring occasionally until onions are translucent and soft-- 5 minutes.  Stir in the flour, then add tomatoes, baking soda and stock.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes.  Let the soup cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth.  (When puréeing hot foods be sure to hold down the lid with a towel.)  Return the soup to the pot and add desired amount of milk (up to 1 1/2 cups).  Season with salt and pepper.  NOTE:  If the soup is too thick... just thin it with additional stock, milk or water.  If you like a stronger tomato flavor, add a bit of tomato paste.  

Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich... or if you're feeling lazy like I was when we had leftovers... just grate some cheese on top of the soup ;)

Mmmm.... with the snow coming down outside (yes!! it's snowing!!!)... I think it's going to be a soup kind of day ;)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 36

You ever go to a place over and over again... only to find that as many times as you've been there you've been missing something?  I've lived in Wilmington since 1999... and I'm thankful to say that I've been to Wrightsville Beach more times than I can count....
I realized, today, though.... that just one access over from one of our most visited accesses (43)...  we have been walking past one of the most beautiful spots on Wrightsville Beach.  Rolling dunes, grasses, shrubbery... for a moment I imagined that it was nature made it... just the way it was supposed to be.
As we walked down the pathway, I thought about that sign (above)... and wished that there had been another. One about littering especially with facts about plastics and how they negatively impact our oceans and wildlife.
We're redoing our bathroom and today one of the painters said, "That's a nice cigarette butt collection you have in your garage."  Of course, I told him "Thanks." :)  Then I said, "They're from Wrightsville Beach.  That's 35 days worth... 20 minutes at a time.  There are 13,279..."  (Yes, his jaw slightly dropped and his eyes widened... and a conversation began.)  
Want to help bring consciousness to others???  Whatever it is you do... share it.... and take part in conversation....
20 minutes on January 6, 2010
Litter by weight: 12 oz
Cigarette butts: 125

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 36 days:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

More Than Resolutions.

Last January, I made my first real New Year's Resolution.... however, I didn't call it a New Year's Resolution... I called it a Life Resolution.

This year... I'm going to keep on keeping on with that Life Resolution, my cigarette butt litter project (including getting The Bait Tank's installed on Wrightsville Beach) and plastic-free food.  But it's not going to end there.  Nope.  I'm also going to make some commitments right here right now:

1. Join of Surfrider.  (Done!  My husband just joined!)

2. Collect our plastic waste EVERY week for 2011 and share it on "My Plastic Free Life" (the blog formerly known as Fake Plastic Fish) for the Show Your Plastic Challenge.  I'm hoping that by showing off our plastic waste for 52 weeks, that we'll have lots of epiphanies on how to reduce our plastic usage!!!  (This will start on Sunday January 2.)
This is our plastic waste from December 19-25, 2010
3. Continue to support the efforts of Bonnie Monteleone with The Plastic Ocean.

4. Become one of Wallace J. Nichols 100 Blue Angels to allow him to have one true employer-- the ocean.

5. Plastic bag ban in Wilmington.  I can't stop thinking about it.  So...Yeah, we're going to do it... and Bonnie's on board... who else wants to help???

Oh yeah... and I'm totally going to learn how to surf. ;)  

Our Daily Ocean: Day 35

The first day of the new year.... our 1st clean-up of 2011 and it couldn't have been a more perfect day.... 64˚ meant flip flops... the New Year is looking good!!!
Looking up and down the beach strand... there were so many people that it looked like it was September at the beach (except the water is a frigid 47˚!!).  We were joined by my friend Bonnie Monteleone of The Plastic Ocean.  Bonnie is finally back from sailing across the South Atlantic Ocean with 5 Gyres... so we spent a good portion of our time talking about plastics in our oceans, beach clean ups and people coming together for this common cause-- our tiny blue marble... our planet... our home.
In 2010, I had a moment where I was thinking about how there are so many people doing things to make a positive impact on this world... then I said to myself (and a few people).... "What if we all came together??  Just imagine what that would be like..."**    Because when we come together... we can accomplish so much more.  As one, we are just a voice in a crowd... going about our lives doing what we do.  BUT... when we come together... together we have the ability to rise above being a crowd of individuals... and our voices become one and we rise above that crowd.  **(So you know... moments after saying that, I contacted my (now) friend Sara Bayles who writes The Daily Ocean blog... and you know where that led ;) )
I call them "friends."  Bonnie said that they're "butting up to each other." ;)
As we were picking up cigarette butts in the wrack line and then this straw... Bonnie said, "Like things travel together."  They sure do... that's why we're friends ;)
In 2010, I also changed my way of thinking.  I went from saying, "I want to help" to "I can help" to "I am helping."  I stopped wishing that I could make a difference.  And realized that I am the difference.  That's something that we all need to realize.  If no one has told you this year... let me be the first: 
You are the difference.  

"We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential."  ~Ellen Goodman

20 minutes on January 1, 2011

Cigarette butts: 431

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 35 days: