Saturday, April 30, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 59

On Friday, as we walked onto Wrightsville Beach... we, once again, couldn't believe how trashed the beach was.  In every direction, we could see litter strewn across the sand.
And as we walked stepped, grabbed, stepped, grabbed through the aftermath of what could only be described as the leftovers of an all day party.... we kept asking ourselves:  Why?  Why do people just leave their trash on the beach?  Why do they think it's ok??

I, recently, read an article about the record number of trash removed from New Jersey beaches.  In 2010, 475,321 pieces of litter were removed from the state's 127-mile shoreline.  45,903 were cigarette filters. So... the question begs to be answered.  "Why????"

In a 2009 study done by Keep America Beautiful, they found that "litter begets litter."  It's a simple fact, that the chances of people littering are much more likely in an already littered environment.  Litter attracts MORE litter.

So... that one wrapper that got away... that one plastic water bottle that got misplaced... that dropped bottle cap.... that one cigarette butt that got flicked.... they're all open invitations for other people to do the same...
Then... once the litter is in place attracting MORE litter.  Something happens.  Suddenly, people believe it's not their responsibility to pick it up.  Someone else will pick it up.  Who?  Maybe they think someone is paid to pick up after them?  Maybe the litterbugs at Wrightsville Beach need to meet my three children.  Maybe they need to meet the volunteers of the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project.  Maybe they need to meet the members of Surfrider... and the other countless volunteers that spend their time picking up the trash left behind by other people.
Maybe it's time to walk Wrightsville Beach with photos of what 20 minutes of picking up litter on Wrightsville Beach looks like??  Maybe then... people will begin to understand that one simple thing adds up to more... and the more keeps growing.  Of course, that simple thing can be negative (littering) or positive (not littering/picking it up).  What are YOU growing??
20 minutes on April 29, 2010 at Access 29

Litter by weight: 5 lbs 8.6 oz 
Cigarette butts: 279

A "fish" swimming in a sea of 279 cigarette butts.  "Save Fish.  Feed The Bait Tank butts."
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 59 days: 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Plastic-Free Strawberry & Apple Fruit Leather

Yesterday, as I danced around my kitchen... I once again realized one of the many rewards of striving to reduce our families plastic footprint.  The reward, of course, is the victory of figuring out how to make something that has been so commercialized that we think that we need special equipment to make it OR the only way to get it is to buy it.
But, what I learned yesterday as I turned apples and strawberries into fruit leather is that I don't need fancy equipment and my kids don't have to go without BECAUSE it's one of the easiest (and best tasting) things I've ever made.  Seriously, no joke.
Excited with my creation... I carried the fruit leather to my daughter's dance last night.  Of course, I shared.  The reaction was, "You should sell these."  But... why sell something when you can share a recipe and people can make their own??  Everyone deserves to dance around their kitchen in sweet victory!!!

Strawberry & Apple Fruit Leather

2-3 cooking apples, peeled and diced  (I used Fuji, if you would like other suggestions... just ask me!)
1 lb 2oz strawberries (I used fresh picked local strawberries)
juice of one lemon
7 TBSP honey

Line 2 sheet/cookie pans with parchment paper or Silpat.

Add apples, strawberries and lemon juice to skillet (or pot).  Cook on med-low until fruit is soft, about 15-20 min.  When fruit is soft, run it through a food mill or sieve.  Add the honey.

Divide mixture evenly on the two sheet pans.  Spread out to an even thinness.  Bake at 180˚F for 7 hours or until dry. 

Cut to how you like... eat in strips... roll them up... however you eat them... trust me... you'll be dancing ;) 

Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.  (<---HA!  We ate ours in a day!!!)


*Any berry would work to replace the strawberries.  Make this with seasonal berries :)

*180˚F is the lowest temperature setting for my oven.  If you have a lower setting, you could dehydrate these at 140˚F for 12-18 hours

*Always one to experiment whether or not lining the pans is actually needed... I lightly oiled a pan and tried it out.  Sure it works fine... but it takes (a lot) more effort to get the fruit leather off of the pan.  Save yourself the time and line the pans!! ;)  

*I was asked if a food processor could be used in place of a food mill.  My thought is "why not?"... as long as the mixture is thoroughly puréed, it should work fine.  If you try it with a food processor... let me know :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 58

Saturday evening, as I walked up to Wrightsville Beach... I saw an overflowing trash can.  I looked around and saw trash everywhere... and in those quick glances... I knew that the beach was going to be trashed.  And I was right.       The beach was a complete mess... every direction we looked there was litter strewn about the beach.  Access 16 was in disarray and so my brain felt the same way.  But as much as I am bothered by how the beach was left by Saturday's beach goers, I wasn't completely shocked.  Looking at the state of the trash cans and recycling bins (above)... it was easy to see that even someone with the best of intentions could easily come up short.

Thankfully, we had extra help from Gabrielle Steele from the American Lung Association, who found me thanks to my Brita FilterForGood Film... emailed me and is now going to join us at Wrightsville Beach from time to time doing 20 minute beach clean ups!!  YAY!!
We also had help from my friend Bonnie of The Plastic Ocean Project, and Shirley... Bonnie's 83 year old (!!) mom.  As Bonnie says about her mom, "She's a testament that we can all help whether we are the ones who create litter or not."
Together the 5 of us removed nearly 16 pounds of litter from Access 16.  (ummm... yeah...just 5... my kids played the entire time and they had SO much fun!!)  As usual, nearly everything we picked up at Wrightsville Beach was used for just moments and then left, tossed, misplaced, blown and/or forgotten on the beach.  And... whether the litter happens purposefully or by accident... is usable or not... it's still litter.  


As warmer weather is now here and beach season is in full swing... I've decided to start separating and counting (most) everything that we find on the beach.  One thing that we find too often are plastic straws. *sigh* We picked up 22 on Saturday.  I'm committed to not using straws and I'm also very committed to helping others rethink their straw use.  Have you taken the time to participate in Glass Dharma's Glass Straw Earth Day Initiative??  It's easy. Write a letter to your favorite restaurants, copy your letter into the comments of my blogpost and email your letter to Glass Dharma.  Do ALL three steps by April 30 and Glass Dharma will mail you a FREE glass straw!!  Check it out here: Write a Letter... Get a FREE Glass Straw!!
Want to help with something else??  Sure you do!  ;)  NC Senator Thom Goolsby has sponsored a bill to repeal the plastic bag ban that is currently in place in the North Carolina Outer Banks.  If you or anyone you know lives in North Carolina, please take a moment to participate in this Surfrider Action Alert to preserve the plastic bag ban in the NC Outer Banks.  Please and thank you.
20 minutes on April 23, 2011 at Access 16

Litter by weight: 15 lbs 13.6 oz
Cigarette butts: 335
Go here see a full run down of what we picked up.  Also, all shoes and clothes that we remove from WB are donated and recyclables recycled. :)
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 58 days: 


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 57

Before I started doing 20 minute clean ups, I thought that all of the litter we found on Wrightsville Beach during organized beach clean ups-- such as Surfrider and Big Sweep-- had accumulated over time.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.
Classic... using the beach as an ashtray. :(
Everyday our world is being trashed... and I just can't wrap my brain around the "why".... I don't understand how people can be so careless... and as we picked up over 6 lbs of litter husband said, "At what point do people say, 'Aww.... f*@k it.  Just leave it.'??"

Admittedly, I've been longing for warmer weather.... and Wednesday we got it.  86˚F and it couldn't have been more beautiful.  But now that beach season is here... it means more people flocking to Wrightsville Beach.  More people = more litter.  *sigh*  

In 20 minutes at Access 36 (our adopted beach access and home of the oceanfront restaurant Oceanic), we picked up 14 plastic straws.  I've talked to Oceanic about not using plastic straws (and other plastics) on the pier.  What I never thought about was them switching to paper straws or offering an upgrade to a glass straw.  Oceanic is one of the restaurants that I'll be writing to to participate in Glass Dharma's Earth Day Initiative.  Read about the initiative on my blog here or go here(oh yeah, thanks to Beth Terry....I've finally added a letter to my blogpost... so if you need a little inspiration to get you started, please feel free to personalize my letter to make it your own!!)  

As we were picking up litter around Crystal Pier... my husband looked north (from Oceanic) and saw a huge mess in the grasses.  All sorts of plastics from straws to styrofoam had blown from the pier and had found a resting place in the beach grasses.  It was absolutely disgusting.  My husband said, "Don't pick that up.  I'm going to get a manager."  With that he was up on the pier speaking to a manager about using plastics on the pier dining area and the responsibility that Oceanic has to clean up their mess.  Moments later, the manager had a guy picking up litter.
What you can't see in this photo is all of the cracker wrappers, cigarette butts, straws, sugar packets, candy wrappers, etc.
You know what I find interesting about THIS photo???
The blue trash can in the background.  So close.  Chances are the person passed it when they left the beach... but they didn't bother to take their trash with them.  :'(

20 minutes on April 20, 2011 at Access 36

Litter by weight: 6 lbs 11.1 oz (yes... this is a record)
Cigarette butts: 208
If this is what 20 minutes on a weekday looks like in the spring... what is 20 minutes on a summer weekend going to look like??
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 57 days:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Write a Letter... Get a Free Glass Straw!!!

Every time I do a 20 minute beach clean up... it's (unfortunately) guaranteed that we're going to find littered straws.  Some days we find so many that I count the straws before I count cigarette butts....On Day 11, we picked up 26 straws in 20 minutes.... and on Day 52, we removed 21 straws in 20 minutes.  :(  
Starting on Day 55, I have begun tallying the number of straws we find during our 20 minute clean ups.  So far the two day tally is at 18.
Before we started doing the 20 minute clean ups... my husband and I were pretty good about REFUSING straws (yes, we even ditched lids on drinks in order to not use a straw).... but after picking up SO many at Wrightsville Beach (and other places around town).... it became obvious to us that we needed to ALWAYS refuse them.... saying "No Thank You" to a straw in our drinks has become second nature to us (yes, even our 3 young children refuse straws!!).  

After doing our 4th 20 minute clean up back in September, it became clear to us that a lot of the litter... including the majority of straws we find at access 36 find their way to the beach from the restaurant's dining pier.  I made the decision to contact the restaurant to make them aware of what we were finding AND to offer suggestions to the problem.  

I shared my letter here.... and encouraged everyone to write a letter to a restaurant.  NOW... I want to encourage you to participate in this GlassDharma restaurant letter writing initiative!! GlassDharma is motivated to make a difference and they are willing to put FREE glass straws where your lips are!

You read right... FREE glass straws!!

All you have to do is write a letter to a restaurant, suggesting ways they might reduce single use plastic straw trash and GlassDharma will send you a FREE glass straw!!  YAY!!!  

Ok... I'm super excited about this because I can't remember the last time I used a straw AND their straws are "kid-friendly"!!  Of course, I will be writing some letters!!  Some suggestions for how restaurants could reduce the use of single use straws are to: Ask customers if they want a straw, instead of automatically giving them one;  Make the switch to paper or reusable straws; and to recommend the restaurant offer GlassDharma drinking straws as an upgrade to their menu. (<--- how cool would that be?!?)

OK... so are you ready?!?  Here are the deets:

  1. Write and send a snail mail* letter  to a restaurant -- (up to 5 different restaurants for up to 5 free straws!!)  *NO emails
  2. Copy your letter, please include full contact information of the restaurant, into a comment on this blogpost :)
  3. Send an email to with a copy of your letter, including contact info of the restaurant AND your personal contact info so that a free GlassDharma Glass Straw can be mailed to you.  **Contact information for entrants and restaurants must include, name, mailing address and email address.  Please note: Participants from the US and Canada are only eligible to participate in this contest.

For writing the letter... or hopefully letters!!...and including all of the required contact information, a GlassDharma Simple Elegance Glass Straw (SE9.5NA8) will be mailed to you directly from the GlassDharma manufacturing facility in Fort Bragg, CA!! Yes, each participant gets a free glass straw!  One free straw per entry (multiple entries, up to 5, must include a different restaurant for each entry). 

GlassDharma will award one Grand Prize Winner a $100.00 gift certificate coupon code.  Entries received through 4/30/2011 and all straws will be shipped May 2- 4.  The Grand prize drawing to be held on 5/4/2011.

OK... So are you ready to make a difference?!?  I am... and I know just the 5 restaurants I'll be writing :) 

Here's one:
703 S. Lumina Ave
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

 Dear Oceanic:

As a long-time customer, I not only appreciate your food but also the fact that you all use reusable dishes, real flatware, and glasses. I know that when we eat at Oceanic, we’ll have a waste-free meal, that is, as long as we ask for no straws. As a family that participates in regular beach clean ups, we have found that straws are one of the most littered items on our beach (and worldwide). Knowing that so many straws are littered, our family of five makes a conscious effort to not use plastic straws.

In honor of Earth Month, I am writing to ask you to change your plastic straw policy.

1. Why not train your servers to ask customers if they want a straw instead of automatically giving them one? Some people don’t like straws and will appreciate being asked. All others will get a chance to stop and think about whether they actually need this disposable plastic item in the first place.

2. Doing beach clean ups we find a good majority of plastic straws that have flown from the Oceanic dining pier. I would love it if you’d switch to paper straws for those customers who request one. Yes, they are still disposable, but at least they are compostable and will not last in the environment, potentially harming wildlife. One company that offers paper straws is Aardvark (

3. Please consider participating in an upgrade program, offering customers the opportunity to pay extra for their meal and receive a reusable straw to carry with them. There is a US company called Glass Dharma. On their website they describe the Menu Upgrade program for restaurants, which I think is a great idea. (

I would greatly appreciate it if you would please let me know which steps you are willing to take. Besides the amazing selection of seafood, Oceanic is the only restaurant in Wrightsville Beach that overlooks the breathtaking views of the beach and Atlantic Ocean; I’d love for Oceanic to take steps to help preserve that beauty.


Danielle Richardet


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 56

On Monday... I took my three kids to the library and to Coastal Cupcakes.  Then I asked them which beach access they would like to go to... in unison they yelled, "The rock!!".  At access 16, there is rock that my kids LOVE to jump off of... you can see them in all their happiness jumping off of it in the FilterForGood Film (which, by the way is now on YouTube!!)....

Having just been to access 16... I decided to do 20 minutes at access 15 and while I did my kids played under the pier.... digging a hole....looking for sand crabs.  So... it was just me... and my two hands.
With this 20 minute clean up... I've hit a milestone.  Surpassing the 16,000 mark.
16,084 to be exact. (...and I'm not stopping anytime soon.) 
I can honestly say that when I started this project... I never (in a million years) would have ever imagined picking up that many cigarette butts.  (who could imagine that?!?)  I'm so extremely grateful to everyone that has shown their support and encouraged me along the way.... and have to give special thanks to everyone that has joined us at Wrightsville Beach to do a 20 minute clean up.  MarkZakLiz, Ryan and Gabby, Tracy with Liam and Emma, Bonnie, Butch, Goffinet, my in-laws, and my mom and sister :)  LOVE and GRATITUDE. 
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead
Pay no attention to the numbers on the containers... I used to know how many were in each container... but after filming (some were dumped out to get close up shots of the butts).... I lost track. ;)
20 minutes on April 11, 2011
Litter by weight: 9 oz
Cigarette butts: 115

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 56 days:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 55

Sunday we went to one of our least visited accesses:  Access 33.  We hadn't been there since our 17th clean up on November 1, 2010 and at that time it held the record (at 85) for the least amount of cigarette butts picked up in 20 minutes. records were made on Sunday.  Cigarette butts were everywhere.  Our beach clean up went a bit like this:  Step, lean, pick... step kneel, scooch, pick.....
 Fun fact:  Yesterday was the 100th day of the year.   Fun Fact #2:  I looooooove finding sea glass.  I feel like it's a gift of sorts from the ocean....

Have you heard about the campaign "Boycott the Baggie"??  It's a small step to stop using one disposable product a day.  It's a commitment that I made years ago... more years than I remember.  I'm wondering if my kids even know what they are... hmmm... they definitely know what they look like...
Just like baggies are useless trash... so are single-use cups.  Seriously.  Get used to carrying a cup... it's not hard to grab a mug when you walk out the door... it just takes remembering.
My tip for being forgetful:  If you forget.  Go without.  
Trust me... go without enough and that whole remembering thing will catch on. ;)
As I'm thinking about it... nearly everything we pick up at the beach is a single use disposable product.  Cigarettes, baggies, cups, plastic utensils, lids, individually wrapped foods, straws... the list goes on and on.  What will you REFUSE today??  May I make a suggestion... how about saying no thank you to a straw in your drink?? (please and thank you)
One of 12 straws that we removed from WB on Sunday.
Sooo.... just after I took the "group" photo of all the litter we removed from Wrightsville Beach... my husband and I watched a man fiddle around with his fishing line.  It was a complete tangled mess.  Such a mess that he got out his pocket knife and cut it free.... immediately dropped it to the ground and never once looked back....
I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.
20 minutes on April 10, 2011
Cigarette butts: 241

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 55 days: 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 54

It seems like every other time I go to Tidal Creek I run into my friend Zak of Oceana North Carolina.  Zak is working as an Oceana field organizer to build a team of supporters who support clean energy solutions.  For the past couple of weeks, we've been talking about meeting up at Wrightsville Beach.  So when I realized how gorgeous the weather was yesterday, I gave him a call and met him at Access 43.  BUT... once again... the wind was fierce!!  Being that it was such a windy day, our beach clean up started off the beach strand with two plastic bags...

Because of the wind, we didn't find many cigarette butts...but we did find a LOT of other litter including other smoking related debris such as lighters.
When we found the lighters all I could do was think about the photos of all of the lighters that have been found on Midway .... There are so many things that can be learned from what's happening at Midway... including the fact that we are ALL connected.  Our actions (or inactions) are far reaching.

 Zak and I were discussing the fact that the one year anniversary of the Deep Water Horizon Oil spill is just around the corner.  I wonder if people have forgot... I wonder after a year of one of the worst man made environmental disasters if we've learned anything? What have we changed??  What CAN we change??  Hmmm....  it's time we start demanding a Clean Energy Future.

As we were walking back from the beach strand, my daughter pointed out a plastic bag.  Being barefoot, there was NO WAY that I could get it.  BUT... lucky for us... Zak had shoes. :)
20 minutes on April 4, 2011
Litter by weight: 2 lbs 2.2 oz
Cigarette butts: 39
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 54 days: 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 53

Have I mentioned how I LOVE the beach?!?  Even though it was crazy windy on Saturday... the colors of the sky and the ocean were ridiculously beautiful.  :)
Lately, I've been reading about and looking at photos from the Midway Journey.  Last night, I was reading "Emily's Midway Journey".... she was thinking about all the plastic products that she's used in her life and she was hit with a reality...

"...we can make a difference by choosing not to contribute to this problem anymore. There is always a choice. Are you responsible enough to make the right one?"

20 minutes on April 2, 2011
Litter by weight: 5.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 117

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 53 days: