Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 47

On Sunday, the weather was... dare I say... near perfect.  We spent our day outside enjoying the 77˚ weather and getting a couple of our gardens-- herb and perennial flower gardens-- ready for Spring! (YAY!!)  In the afternoon, we decided that we couldn't miss out on going to the beach on this "perfect" day... BUT... as we were driving to Wrightsville Beach we watched the temperature drop from 75˚F to 59˚F!!!  As we walked up Access 38.... my husband was in shorts, my kids were in short sleeves... and only I and my 4 year old son had jackets.  Needless to say, our 47th clean-up was the longest 20 minutes EVER!!!
Not long after stepping onto the beach, we all noticed something "shining" in the sand.  My kids made a beeline and raced to get it... running back to us with a "kid-sized" Deerpark water bottle they unanimously said, "It's not even opened?!"  Of course, when I got home... I watered the grass with it.  Holding the bottle, I couldn't help but notice the text on the label...
Water from natural Florida springs in a plastic bottle found on a North Carolina Beach... but...(cue sarcasm) "We Can All Make a Difference. Please Recycle." Bullshit.  Recycling doesn't fix taking water from communities (see: Save Our Springs), recycling doesn't fix the people (and environment) who are being poisoned by the production of plastic bottles... recycling isn't fixing the plastic soup that's swirling in our oceans.... grrr...AND... not to mention that simple fact that plastic "recycling" isn't really recycling....  (deep breath)... 


I'd like to interrupt this rant and tell you to watch "Tapped" (free thanks to Hulu)

20 minutes on February 27, 2011
Cigarette butts: 84
Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 47 days:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 46

On our way home from playing miniature golf... I mentioned to my husband that I really wanted to head over to Wrightsville Beach.  My reasoning was simple:  Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and because it was such a warm day the beach was super busy.  In fact, it was so busy that when we went to Wrightsville Beach yesterday for our 45th clean up... I had originally wanted to go to Access 16... but it was so busy that we couldn't find a parking spot.  With the temps in the mid-50's, parking today was easy peasy.  Walking up to the beach, we found our first piece of litter.  The ubiquitous plastic bag.

Like cigarette butts... once I started taking notice of plastic bags... I started seeing them everywhere.  And quite frankly, it's ridiculous.  Plastic bags are a complete waste.  Carrying reusable bags is so simple.... or carrying out our purchases without a bag also works.  If there's one thing that all of us can do it is to ALWAYS say "No Thank You" to plastic bags.  I'm beyond serious.  Say "No Thank You"... say "I don't need a bag"... say "I have my own bags"... and if someone puts your purchases in a plastic bag... take out your purchase and say "No thank you... I don't use plastic bags." (...and may I suggest reading this and ditching produce bags too.)  .... ok... rant is now over ;)

There's something so interesting about finding cigarette butts stained with lipstick.  Interesting because I know something about the person who smoked the cigarette and tossed it on the beach.  The cigarette has a kind of personality... an identity of sorts.
 We found lots of litter on the beach today.  If you'd like to see photos, you can check them out here.  

As we were walking off the beach strand, my husband looked down at the curb and said, "You should take a picture of this."  I took the picture and said, "I'm going to clean it and count."  In (maybe) 2 minutes... I counted 64 cigarette butts, a plastic spoon, and a plastic lid.
After my friend Bonnie watched my Brita FilterForGood short film, she immediately wrote me (while I was still at the Sundance Film Festival) about The BaitTanks.  Once she saw The Bait Tank that we donated to Wrightsville Beach installed, she contacted Mark and is going to donate a Bait Tank to Wrightsville Beach and have it installed at Access 16!!  YAY!!!

To quote myself from the film, "...what would it be like if we could come together?... what kind of difference could we make together versus being one person..." (... love that Destin got me saying that.)  

We're coming together... and it's making all the difference. :D

20 minutes on February 20, 2011
Cigarette butts: 177

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 46 days: 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 45

Every time we do a beach clean up... I post all of the pictures that I take on my Facebook page.  On a photo from Day 42, Sarah N. told me about how Camel makes a cigarette that has a little plastic "flavor" pellet inside the filter. I was immediately intrigued... especially knowing that I had picked up some of the cigarettes that she told me about.  So today... when we got home from Wrightsville Beach and I was counting all of the cigarette butts that we found at Access 19... you can imagine my excitement when I saw this:
I immediately put it to the side and kept counting butts... then when I finished... I opened it up:
And found the little plastic "flavor" pellet that Sarah had told me about...
Insane... right?!?  ...I'm honestly at a loss for words.

20 minutes on February 19, 2011
Litter by weight: 1 lb 2.4 oz
Cigarette butts: 131

 Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 45 days:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 44

Back in September, our family made the decision to adopt Access 36 at Wrightsville Beach.  From August to our last clean up at Access 36-- that's 7 clean ups-- we've picked up (in order) 197, 215, 443, 434, 103, 315, and 101 cigarette butts..... that totals to a whopping 1,808 cigarette butts removed from Access 36!!  Joined my my mother-in-law... today was our eighth 20 minute clean up at our adopted access... AND... I'm happy to say that the cigarette butt counts are STILL on the decline!!  

Photo credit: my 6 year old daughter Claire 
More good news... my friend Ginger has been recognized as Wrightsville Beach's Volunteer of the Year.  YAY!!!  Back in September, Ginger wrote about me on the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle blog

"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?"  

Since then, Ginger has been contributing to the Community Butt Count.  Recently, she started picking up and counting the cigarette butts that she finds on her street.  Just walking 5 houses up from hers she picked up 553 and then on another day walking 3 houses up she picked up 383 cigarette butts!!!  Go Ginger!!!

One thing that we found a lot of today is straws... yes... again. (though I didn't take any photos... oops!)  Every Friday, I go to yoga and after yoga I go to Tidal Creek and get a smoothie.  For the past several months, I've been taking my own reusable water bottle and have them pour my smoothie in it in lieu of their compostable cups... AND... I don't take a straw.  Today, a fellow smoothie lover was admiring my Life Factory glass water bottle.... so I, of course, told her all about it and said, ".... and I don't take a straw either."  But... as I learned today...not everyone is like me....some people really "need" and like to use a straw.  Sooo... if you're a straw lover (like the lady I met today)... then you need to hop on over to Reuseit and check out the reusable glass straws.  Yup... glass straws!!  Sounds crazy... but it's not. If you're unsure about the glass straws... be sure to read this post on My Plastic Free Life ;) 

Oh yeah... and today we found another one of these messes....
A big mess held together by fishing line and string.

20 minutes on February 18, 2011

Cigarette butts: 92

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 44 days:


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 43

Here's the thing... yesterday, my kids and I went to Wrightsville Beach to do a 20 minute clean up.... Same beach, different day... same story.  We found all the typical things we've been finding this winter... mostly cigarette butts and single use plastics.  

But as we were walking... I found something that I've never seen before.  I reached down to grab what looked like a piece of metal sticking out of the sand....
BUT...when I grabbed it... a whole wad of organics held together by fishing line came with it... maybe there's a special name for what I found... but I'm feeling like it's just a big "wad of irresponsibility." 

 For the third clean up in a row, the cigarette butt counts are still on the decline... but with the weather heating up.... it's (obviously) only a matter of time....

Like cigarette butts, a beach clean up is never complete without finding a straw.  Really it never fails... even on the coldest days we find straws.   Most (like this photo) are from juice boxes.  A single use product in all it's glory.  Throwaway container, with a plastic wrapped single use straw.... used for mere minutes and then tossed.  As a parent, I get that kids dig juice boxes and they are pretty darn convenient... but it doesn't take that much longer or much effort to fill a reusable bottle with juice... seriously.

Switching gears... to good news :)   Jackson Browne is to be honored with the Save Our Shores Ocean Hero Award for his social, environmental and anti-plastic activism and his ongoing dedication to ocean issues. 

“This is a critical moment in our planet’s life.  Plastic was a big mistake, and we need to do something about it.” 
I couldn't agree more.

20 minutes on February 15, 2011
Cigarette butts: 85
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 43 days: 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 42

I often feel when we do beach clean ups that there's a lesson to be learned with what we find.  Yesterday, while doing a 20 minute clean up at Access 43... I came across a plastic bag... it was half buried in the sand and as I got closer and went to grab it... I realized that it was starting to degrade.  No longer was the plastic bag from Wal-Mart one single piece of plastic... it was breaking down into smaller pieces that had to be scooped up with the sand...

Last weekend when we met Bonnie at Wrightsville Beach... we talked about plastic bags.  Through talking she started telling me about a photo she saw of a mother sea otter trying to remove a plastic bag from her pup... and when I finally saw the photo this morning... I thought... EVERYONE needs to see this photo...

Seriously, makes my heart heavy.  For me that photo is another reason to always say "No Thank You" to plastic bags and to support all of the plastic bag bans that are popping up all over our country (and world)... and don't let the plastics industry fool you... recycling is NOT the answer.  Did you know that about 60,000 plastic bags are used every 5 seconds???  Seriously, with billions of plastic bags used every single year... recycling is NOT the answer.  The answer is to REFUSE...

Yesterday's clean up at Access 43 was our fourth clean up there.  Our first was on August 9-- also our first 20 minute clean-up-- where we collected 346 cigarette butts.  We went back on October 29-- the final day of voting for my Brita FilterForGood Film Project-- where we collected 265 cigarette butts.  Then we made it back to Access 43 on Christmas Day where we collected 720 cigarette butts.  Thankfully the numbers have dropped off and yesterday we picked up 92 cigarette butts off of Wrightsville Beach.  I say thankfully with hesitation because obviously 92 cigarette butts in 20 minutes is still too many...

because when it comes to finding cigarette butts... there's always other smoking related litter that comes along with the butts... from the plastic wrap that surrounds a cigarette carton to something like this...
20 minutes on February 12, 2010
Litter by weight: 12.5 oz
Cigarette butts: 92

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 42 days:


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 41

My husband posing ;)
After spending the past week, either taking care of my feverish children or sleeping off my own fever... it was nice to finally make it back to Wrightsville Beach... especially on such a beautiful day.

Before heading out to the beach strand, we stopped by to see how the Bait Tank looks at Wrightsville Beach.... it's been installed for a little over a week now... and I'm happy to say that it's being put to good use!!!!  If you'd like more information on The Bait Tanks, be sure to visit the website and contact Mark:  Also, be sure to check out  my Brita FilterForGood Film "It Starts With Me" here to learn more :)

So... back to the beach.  Just like last week... Bonnie joined us for a 20 minute clean up.  This time, she brought her dog and her friend, Butch.  The four of us picked up litter and chatted while my kids played in the sand.  Today was the third time that Bonnie has helped do a 20 minute clean up... since she's been out to the ocean gyres-- North & South Atlantic and North Pacific-- she always offers great insight and inspiration to keep on doing beach clean ups.

"Beach clean ups are gyre clean ups."

...and if us picking up litter is keeping it from the ocean... then so is every other person that takes the time to pick up a piece of litter.  Early last week, a friend sent me a link to a blog out of Ohio:  Artist at Exit O Riverblog.  (Check out the link to see the collections of litter the artist has compiled from the Ohio River.) Think someone landlocked in Ohio can't impact the ocean?  Think about this... the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi River which flows into the Gulf of Mexico.  All drains lead to the ocean.

Just this morning, I watched the documentary "Picking Up America."  The 16 minute documentary shows just how a small group of people decided to make a difference by walking the US picking up litter.... over 700 miles covered... and a staggering 73,000 lbs of litter removed!!!

We get mad... sign petitions... write letters... and sometimes feel helpless about oil spills and other environmental disasters that we don't have immediate control over... but one of the greatest environmental disasters is how we're trashing our world....and WE have complete control.  There's no blaming this problem on anyone else... this is OUR problem and only WE can fix it.

Disposable products don't fit in an indisposable world.  It's that statement... that realization in my life that keeps me conscious to my efforts to reduce disposable convenience.

20 minutes on February 6, 2011
Litter by weight: 8.1 oz
89 cigarette butts

Total amount of cigarette butts picked up off of Wrightsville Beach, NC in 41 days: