Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 79

Back in the fall of 2010, we made the decision to adopt a beach access at Wrightsville Beach.  Deciding on an access was serious business for us because we wanted to make sure that we adopted an access that really needed it.  And so, with a large parking lot and bathrooms... we made the decision and adopted access 36.
Adopting access 36 has been difficult for us.  Because it's our adopted access, we go there more often than other accesses even when we're not documenting our 20 minute clean ups.  Sometimes I question whether or not we should have adopted a different access... maybe 24?? (Not to worry, my friend Gabby adopted access 24 shortly after we adopted our access ;) ) questioning of our decision doesn't come out of the fact that it's a high traffic access point.  Nope, my questioning of our decision to adopt access 36 only comes out of my frustrations with Oceanic restaurant.  
Doing back to back clean ups at 36, only intensified my frustrations with the ocean front restaurant.  On Sunday, 29 of the 36 straws we picked up came from the Oceanic dining pier.  And on Monday, 16 of the 21 straws I picked up came from their dining pier.  Fact: There is always a nice wind on Wrightsville Beach, straws (and other things) are guaranteed to blow off the pier.  Knowing this fact, Oceanic needs to take responsibility.  
On Sunday, after seeing the Oceanic employee break area completely littered with cigarettes... I made the decision to skip cleaning their mess.  I had really hoped that Monday morning they would send someone out to clean up the grasses (always littered with restaurant litter) and pick up the cigarette butts.  But when I returned on Monday to see an empty pack of cigarettes laying in the exact spot it was Sunday... I started picking up... and counting.  In just a small (maybe) 10 foot area, I removed 99 cigarette butts.  What bothers me most about this is that those same people who are employed by Oceanic and leaving their cigarette butts in their "break area" no doubt litter their cigarette butts in other places, too.  Oceanic has a great opportunity to educate their employees about the effects of cigarette litter in our environment...
So... this blog is not a place where I mindlessly rant about the shit that bugs me.  Ranting is pointless unless I'm willing to do something about it.  Last fall, I contacted Oceanic about all of the littered cigarette butts in the employee break area and was assured by the general manager that the problem would be taken care of.  I've written Oceanic about straws on numerous occasions.  I get it, I am that girl.  Maybe it's easy to dismiss one person??  Here's what I'm learning: just me writing Oceanic is not enough.  Hundreds of people need to write Oceanic.  A call to action if you will.

Here's the truth: We did not adopt access 36 to clean up after Oceanic.  We adopted access 36 because it is a high traffic area that needed to be adopted.... but yet, we spend the majority of our time cleaning up after Oceanic.  Wrightsville Beach is Oceanic's backyard... plain and simple: they need to take care of it. 

...and so I remind myself that adopting Access 36 was the right thing to do.  Bringing awareness to a problem is the only way to change it.  

20 minutes on July 11, 2011 at Access 36
Cigarette butts: 287

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 79 days: