On Thursday evening, over an hour before we started our 20 minute clean up, my son came across a plastic bottle at his feet in the ocean and came running to show me that it was filled with sand. (who does that??)
My kids and I spent a whopping 5 hours hanging out at access 36 with some friends.... we watched people come and go... we played... we picked up random pieces of litter... we ate dinner... my son & husband got stung by a jellyfish (ouch!!)... and we did our usual 20 minute clean up.... just another day at the beach! :)
When I first started doing these 20 minute clean ups, I had no idea how bad cigarette butt litter really was. Sure I knew that they were the most littered item worldwide... somewhere around 4.5 trillion are littered every single year. But what I didn't know was that the fact that as soon as a cigarette butt comes in contact with water, it begins leaching all of the nastiness it was designed to trap...
Before last night, it had been almost exactly a month since our last visit to access 36. Truth is, I've been consciously avoiding going there. A little after our last visit, I (got over my fears and) made a phone call to the district manager of the restaurant group that owns Oceanic. We ended the conversation on a good note... he was going to get the ball rolling on fixing two major problems: Straws and a high volume of littered cigarette butts in an employee break area. I wanted to give Oceanic plenty of time to work on these problems before heading back... my hopes were high... BUT... not much different than last time... I picked up 73 cigarette butts in the employee break area. :( I'm happy to share that Oceanic is committed to fixing this problem and I'm committed to helping make sure this isn't the norm....
OK.... now straws.... we picked up a total of 60 straws during our 20 minute clean up. Are you ready??? A whopping 53 of those straws came from the Oceanic dining pier!!! 31 of the straws were clear and the other 22 were the black sipping/stirring straws. Insane!! One of the easiest things to go without is straws!! It does take some practice, but it's as easy as saying, "No straws please." (Thank you in advance for going without a straw!)
As I talked to the district manager of Oceanic today, he let me know that they were looking into biodegradable straws like the ones made from corn. BUT... the biodegradable straws are 4x more expensive than their plastic counterparts! We talked about some different solutions, including having the waitstaff ask customers on the pier if they need a straw. I'm wondering if anyone else has some suggestions for how Oceanic can fix this problem?? I'm sure Oceanic would appreciate any feasible ideas... contact them here.
20 minutes on August 11, 2011
Cigarette butts: 545
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 86 days: