Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 82

What do you see when you look at this picture??  What's the first thing that catches your eye??   

The first thing I saw when I walked up to lifeguard stand #7 were the words in spray paint:

------ Cigs Kill time------
I found those words so strange (and sad) to see at the beach.  While it may be true that they kill the time of life of those who smoke and so much more.  Who needs to kill time at the beach anyway???  Time doesn't really exist at the beach....

"At the beach, life is different. Time doesn't move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun."
The words on the back of the lifeguard tower that we're supposed to see:  
"May the waves of the ocean bring you peace and joy as they did for our loving Wife, Mother, and Grandmother."  

20 minutes on July 29, 2011 at Access 21
Litter by weight: 1 lb 12.5 oz
Cigarette butts: 328
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 82 days:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sippin' (the Plastic-Free Way)

"Here can you hold this for me?" I said, while handing my daughter my glass straw.  Then as I started to fill my bulk containers, I heard: Ping ping ping  It was the sound of my glass straw hitting the concrete floor (at Tidal Creek).  I cringed thinking the worst.  Ok, I wasn't panicking or anything...Glass Dharma has a lifetime guarantee... so no need to fret... but still I cringed just the same. Then as I leaned over to pick it up... I noticed that it was perfect... absolutely perfect.  No cracks, no chips... no nothing.  :)

If you've been following along, I have been saying "no thank you" to plastic straws for quite some time now... and it's been almost a year since I committed 100% to not accepting plastic straws (no ifs ands or buts)-- even in my smoothies.  Yup, from August to May I had at least one smoothie a week and not one of them was drank with a straw.  That is until I participated in the Glass Dharma Earth Day Letter Writing Initiative... and got me some glass straws.  When I first got my glass straws, I was super excited... my kids and I popped them into our waters and fun ensued.  Seriously, it had been so long since we drank from straws that we forgot how much fun it was to sip, sip, sip....

Now I'd like to tell you that I take our straws with us everywhere and use them all the time, but to be honest.... I'm really really bad at remembering to take them when we go out to eat....UNLESS, of course, I'm getting a smoothie.

Admission:  I have an addiction to smoothies.  Seriously. I sip and slurp up A LOT of smoothies with my glass straws!  

Just to let you in on my addiction.  For the past year, I've been going to yoga every Friday.  And every Friday after yoga, I get a smoothie at Tidal Creek.  I've now upped my yoga to 3 times a week... and you guessed it... that means more smoothies!!  Sometimes they're chocolate, sometimes they're fruity... but boy oh boy are they always super yummy!! :)  Of course, I used to go without a straw.... I was cool with going without....really I was... yes, even with a green smoothie mustache and a line across my nose.... I was fine.  But... you know what????!!!  Smoothies are SO much better with a straw.  A million times better!!  No doubt the smoothie tastes good no matter what... but it's honestly more pleasurable to drink using a straw.

....Says the girl who always says, "I don't need a straw." ;)

Now that I officially have a major thing for glass straws... thanks Glass Dharma!!  I feel this need to share them with everyone.  It's fun to say "glass straw" and see people get very intrigued.  BUT... even better than that is giving them to family and friends! They are definitely my new favorite thing to gift.  When my family came out to visit for my birthday, I ordered a bunch of glass straws and gifted them to my family.  Days after getting home (to Iowa), my aunt made my cousin a thick milkshake...  and sent me his response.  Thumbs up!  His favorite feature was something I hadn't even thought of:  The glass straw doesn't go flat like a plastic straw!  Woot!!

While Bushwalla was staying with us, he came home with a drink with a plastic straw...yikes!... I asked "what's up with the plastic straw??".  ...and then, being the person I am...I couldn't let him go around using plastic straws.  Friends don't let friends use single-use disposable plastics. ;)  Without hesitation, I said, "I have something for you" and gave him one of my glass straws.  He immediately started using it... and a month later is still using it!!!  Most recently during his live and online show at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf he talked about reducing the amount of plastic he uses and showed off his glass straw!  Yay Yay Yay!!  Go B!!!  (another ripple effect in progress) 

Ok... so it's been 3 months since I got my first glass straw.  I'm super grateful that Glass Dharma asked me to participate in their Earth Day letter writing initiative because thanks to the glass straw I'm back to sipping my drinks... slurping up the end of my smoothies... taking my kids to get fun things like root beer floats... all while still encouraging others to kick their plastic straw habit. :)

Hmmm... it's still early... I think I need to go make me a smoothie... ;)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Responsibility Is Not Convenient

After doing our 81st clean up at Access 16, we headed further down the beach to Access 39 so that my husband could stand up paddle board.  When we walked up the access I saw this overflowing trashcan that normally would have made me so frustrated...

Even though trash was falling and blowing out all over the beach, I wasn't frustrated because I knew that  I could fix this problem.  I said to my husband,

"I'm not leaving it like this... I'm going to get a trashcan."  

Hoping to find a near empty trashcan... I walked to the next access and then to the next... both trashcans were half full.  I hesitated and thought to myself... "What am I doing?? ... I don't know if I can do this... wait, I have to do this.  Responsibility is NOT convenient."  I made the decision to choose the closer of the two and I drug it across the beach...
In the midst of dragging the trashcan, I called my friend Ginger to let her know that I had officially lost it.  Dragging the awkward, sticky, ant infested trashcan across the beach wasn't easy... but this is the way I saw it:  There was a problem that needed to be fixed.  Do I wish that people would have taken their trash with them instead of leaving it on the beach??  Absolutely.  But they didn't.  I can't change that.  I can't change what happened before me... I can only hope to change what happens after me.
 Responsibility is not convenient.  Doing the right thing takes extra effort... but trust me... it's always worth it. :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 81

As I knelt down to pick up a grouping of cigarette butts, my daughter said, "You might want to just stay on your knees... it'll probably be easier."  She did have a point... we had barely made it past the changing area at Access 16 and we had already come across several areas that were highly littered with cigarette butts.
Then by the time we made it to the pier-- along with a lot of plastic litter-- we had picked up SO many cigarette butts that my husband asked:

"Was there a RJ Reynolds convention here today??"  (hmmm)  

Not one to normally watch TV, last night my husband turned it on for a split second before watching a movie and there in front of us was this commercial about imagining a world without cigarettes. It made me smile for so many reasons... 

I love imaging a world without cigarettes for so many reasons including the fact that a world without cigarettes would be a world without littered cigarette butts.  Considering  4.5 trillion are littered every year...and the fact that I've counted thousands.... a world without cigarettes sure would be nice....  

... smiling???  I am.  :)

20 minutes on July 21, 2011 at Access 16

Litter by weight: 3 lbs 1.9 oz
Cigarette butts: 487

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 81 days:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 80

This week has been a really great week... yes, good things are happening!!  On Wednesday, it was an absolutely gorgeous day for my husband's birthday and my 80th beach clean up!  .... AND... inspiration is in the air!
Since starting this blog, I have connected with so many amazing people who continue to inspire me on a daily basis through their actions, motivating words, and amongst other things the synchronicity in our lives.  One of my major sources of inspiration comes from my friend Sarah who writes The Daily Ocean blog.  After meeting her (just over a year ago)... I became inspired to start these 20 minute clean ups!  AND... now I've contributed nearly 157 lbs of litter to her community collection count. Yowza!
And just as I am inspired... I find there is something so motivating when I see others being inspired by my actions... connecting to people who are making a difference... really really makes me super happy!!  Stephanie over at Good Girl Gone Green has been majorly inspired by my FilterForGood Film Project!!  YAY!!! On her blog she writes:

YES!!  Our everyday action DO make a difference.  ...Yes, she did a 20 minute clean up.  No, she doesn't live by the beach... she took time out of her vacation!! (High 5!)  But, here's what's really exciting...  she's going to start taking the time to pick up litter where she lives because all drains eventually lead to the ocean.  Ripple Effect in progress!!  LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! :)
20 minutes on July 20, 2011 at Access 40
Cigarette butts: 153
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 80 days:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Homemade (Plastic-Free) Tortillas

Two weeks prior to going camping in the NC Outer Banks, I had my friend and her two kids over for dinner.  As we were eating, my friend said, "Can we do Mexican night when we go camping??"  Ummm... YES!!  I thought it was an absolutely brilliant idea!  I immediately became super excited about having Mexican night while camping because:

  1. I could live on Mexican food. 
  2. I knew that the meal could be plastic-free!  
  3. My kids dig quesadillas.
  4. I had no doubts it would be quick and easy...
  5. ...and GUACAMOLE!!! mmmmm :D
So... over the weekend, my family and I went camping with our friends in Ocracoke and had our Mexican camping dinner!  Check it out!!  So YUMMY!!

Quesadillas made with homemade tortillas and plastic-free cheese**
Black bean corn salad (yup, some of us put it IN the quesadillas!)
Homemade guacamole (made before the trip and stored in a glass jar... and it stayed bright green!)
Local watermelon and cantaloupe

We will definitely be doing Mexican night every time we go camping... No joke... this was the best meal that I've had camping.  In fact, I loved it so much that I would make it when we weren't camping and even serve it to company!! I've been waiting procrastinating sharing my homemade tortilla recipe.  ...and I think that today is the day that it needs to be shared!  As I'm striving to reduce the amount of plastics we use...homemade tortillas have become essential.  When I don't have any bread, don't have time to make bread... etc etc etc... tortillas are quick and SUPER easy to make (why didn't I do this years ago?!?) and are so versatile that they can be used for so many different things.  Sure we make quesadillas with them... BUT...we also make pizzas, wraps-- egg salad, hummus, pb&j--, tacos... you name it.  Did I mention that they're SO much better tasting than store bought??  oh, right... everything is.  

Homemade Flour Tortillas

4 c unbleached flour* 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder*
1 1/2 tsp salt*
1/2 c organic butter, cut into 1" chunks
1 to 1 1/2 c warm water

To make vegan or low-fat tortillas:  In lieu of using butter, take 1/2 c of the flour and blend it with 1/2 cup of vegetable or olive oil and freeze for 2 hours.  Then use in place of the butter. 

1. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  (If you don't have a stand mixer, use a large bowl with a fork or pastry blender.)  On low speed, add the butter. When the butter is incorporated and the flour mixture looks crumbly, add the water in a slow stream with the mixer running, just until the dough sticks together and clears the side of the bowl.  NOTE: Don't add too much water... not only will the dough be sticky and difficult to work with... too much water makes for tough tortillas!  Knead briefly-- no more than 10 times-- until a smooth ball forms.  Shape into a cylinder and cover with a dish towel.  Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

2. After the dough has rested-- for 8"-9" tortillas-- divide the dough into 15 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a ball, cover with the dish towel and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

3. To roll out the tortillas, place the ball on your thumb and make an indention creating a "mushroom" shape.  The air pocket inside helps the dough roll out into a (near) perfect circle :)  Flatten the ball then roll it out into a thin circle just like you would for a pie crust.  Start from the center, making quarter turns often and never pressing the edges.

Tip: I roll my tortillas out right next to my stove, so that I can flip them off the pan and on the pan quickly when I'm cooking them :)

4. To cook the tortillas, heat an ungreased cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.  Place as many tortillas in the pan that will fit without overlapping.  Cook until bubbles start to form then flip to the other side.  Also, as bubbles form just take a spatula and press them down.  When the tortillas are done, the dough will look dry and have brown spots.
Remove the finished tortillas to a cooling rack (ummm... I always throw mine on top of my toaster!) and let cool.  Don't worry about the tortillas overlapping each other... not a big deal.  You can use the tortillas right away or let them cool.  Once the tortillas are cool you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a week.

Storage Tip: A 9x13 pyrex dish with a lid or round glass baking dish both work really well for storage :)

Mmmm... all this talk of food and I'm all out of tortillas... see ya later! ;)

**Last month, I bought an entire wheel of cheese from Tidal Creek.  It came in a wooden box with no plastic.  I shred and chop it into cubes then freeze it until we're ready to use it  :)

*Using my own containers, I buy these items in bulk at Tidal Creek.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It Starts With Us: A Letter to Tom's of Maine

Back in June, I jumped in excitement and gave a virtual high 5 to Harry when I read his open letter to Tom's of Maine regarding their switch from aluminum toothpaste tubes to plastic tubes.  I, like Ellen, had hoped that their inbox would be flooded with emails questioning and challenging their decision.  I said, "I'm going to write a letter, too."  Most often twitter illiterate... my excitement even got me to bust out some tweets:

 OMG! Was just thinking about this today!! U ROCK!! I absolutely LOVE it!! Need to start a campaign w/  ;)

RT  Open letter to Tom's of Maine. U switched to plastic tubes b/c u thought it was better. U were misled

 check it out!  wrote an awesome letter to Tom's of Maine about their switch to  

 I just thought about something. Tom's used to b a small (and awesome) company... aren't they owned by colgate? Hmm..$$$

Yup... I was excited.  I felt motivated.  Then I forgot... until today when I was reading "The House Behind the Other Houses."  Thank you Ellen for the reminder.  This time, I didn't give myself the opportunity to forget.  Today, I followed through because Tom's will never know what I think or why I do what I do unless I tell them... the same goes for you ;) So here it is... my letter to Tom's of Maine:

"Over the past several years, I have been making a concentrated effort to make decisions that positively impact our environment.  Part of this continued effort was started by doing beach clean ups and seeing the negative impact that plastics have on our environment... through production all the way to disposal.  The knowledge I've gained about plastic pollution has led me to strive to reduce the amount of plastics that I do use.  

Years ago, one of the first changes I made was to start buying Tom's of Maine toothpastes for our family of five.  The decision to make the switch to Tom's over other "environmentally friendly" toothpastes was the metal tube.  I appreciated the fact that I could recycle the tube and that the only plastic was the one single plastic lid.  But, recently, that changed.  I read that Tom's thinks it's more environmentally friendly to use the new plastic laminate in lieu of aluminum.  I appreciate that Tom's invested in a study to determine the environmental impact of your toothpaste tubes.  One thing that may have been disregarded in the study is the end life of the product.  As a #7 plastic, the new toothpaste tube can't be recycled and certainly can't be reused... and even if it could be reused, it will eventually end up in a landfill or worse yet our oceans as new virgin plastic will continue being made...a completely unsustainable cycle... plastic is forever.  In my opinion, it's time to rethink the packaging again.
As we're finishing up our last tubes of Tom's toothpastes, I can honestly say that I don't know where to go from here.  I view my role as a consumer to be very important.  I vote with my dollars.  Sustainability is a top priority for our family.  As of now I have yet to make a decision about whether or not our family of five will continue to use Tom's.  My hope is that Tom's realizes this switch to plastic was a horrible mistake and as a forward thinking company is able to come up with a better solution.

Thank you for being a leader in sustainability for over 40 years.  I look forward to Tom's getting back to their roots by dumping the unsustainable plastic trend.


Danielle Richardet"

Ok... I've shared mine.  Now it's your turn.  If you use Tom's of Maine toothpaste, take a couple of minutes and write them.  Let them know what you think about the switch from aluminum tubes to plastic.  Tom's of Maine: Contact Us

***********************UPDATE: July 29, 2011**************************

I received the following email from Tom's of Maine.  While I don't agree with everything that was said in the response (ummm... #7 plastic is not recyclable... it's only downcyclable and will eventually end up in a landfill.), I do appreciate the fact that I didn't receive a "form letter" and that they are (or at least seem to be) trying.  So... after receiving their response, I made the decision to go ahead and purchase Tom's of Maine toothpaste.  Over then next several months I'm going to attempt to figure out an alternative solution to plastic packaged toothpastes. :)  My first stop will be trying out homemade toothpaste... I mean toothpaste is really just a recipe put in a tube, right???

"Hi Danielle,

Thank you for your email. I am very sorry to hear of your recent disappointment upon discovering our new laminate tube material. As you can probably imagine, switching to our new tube was a really big decision for our company. The aluminum tubes have been a part of our company for over 40 years.

I do want to assure you that our #7 plastic is recyclable, and we have identified a partner who will recycle and reuse the material as pallet corner protectors and other shipping materials. You can read more about the kinds of materials our tubes will be used to make, here:

We understand that we are very lucky here in Kennebunk to have every code of plastic accepted for recycling in our municipality. If that is not the case where you live, we encourage you to save up any used tubes of ours and send them back to us for recycling. We will gladly reimburse your postage with new product.

Our tubes are also BPA-free, as well as phthalate-free, two considerations we took very seriously in choosing a tube that could withstand our strong natural flavor oils. 

That said, we still recognize that plastic is not the perfect option. Like you, we are committed to sustainability and a clean world. Just today here at our plant in Sanford, Maine, we all took the lunch hour to pick up litter in the neighborhood surrounding our facility.

We are going to continue to look for ways to improve the sustainability of our packaging, and really hope that consumers like you will keep us aware of new options that arise. We appreciate that you do have an opportunity to vote with your dollar, and that you've used that vote to support us all these years. I hope that you will continue to support our company as we look for more sustainable packaging options.

I hope you find this information helpful. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Bridget M. Burns 
Citizen's Advocacy Representative"

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:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 78

Lately, we have an evening ritual.  We eat dinner... clean up... and head to the beach.  When we get there, my husband gets in the water on his stand up paddleboard (SUP), my kids run to the water and I relax.  Then as everyone starts to clear the beach 7:30ish... my husband gets out of the water and we do a 20 minute beach clean up.  However, on Sunday, I had to start without my husband because  my daughter wasn't feeling well (sleepyhead!) and we needed to get moving in the direction of home! Pronto!

Not but a couple of minutes into the 20 minute clean up... we were at the Oceanic/Crystal Pier.  The entire north side of the pier was littered with straws that had blown off the dining pier.  In total, we picked up 36 straws from Access 36... BUT... get this:  29 of those straws were from Oceanic.  29 straws blown from the pier.  Here's what I know... it's doubtful that anyone on the dining pier knows how many straws fly off the pier in a day.  Chances are they don't even think about it.  Maybe the waitstaff at Oceanic doesn't think about it...  BUT... Oceanic needs to think about it.  Oceanic needs to DO something because it is their responsibility.  

Normally, when I do a clean up at Access 36, I go under the pier to the Oceanic employee break area to count the number of cigarette butts left in the sand.  But, since I was already pissed off by the number of straws (and other restaurant litter) that I found on the I got under the pier and saw the mess... I said to myself, "I am not cleaning up their shit.  I'm so over this place." (sorry for the bluntness)
Oh... yes... I'm feeling a tad frustrated. (This is good... frustration moves me.)  ...and it mainly has to do with the fact that I just did a back to back clean up at Access 36.... and guess what??  24 hours after the first clean up... it's a continuation of the same old story.  Yup, this post is to be continued...

20 minutes on July 10, 2011 at Access 36
Litter by weight: 1 lb 15 oz
Cigarette butts: 257

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 78 days:

52 Week Plastic Challenge: Half Way There

Back in January, I made a commitment to take the My Plastic Free Life: Show Us Your Plastic Challenge for 52 weeks straight.  When I made the decision to take the challenge for the entire year, I thought: "no big deal... I'll collect our plastic... I learn."  Of course, I'm learning... but collecting plastic is a big deal.  Seeing every week how much plastic we're using and striving to stay focused takes effort.... and sometimes makes me feel overwhelmed.  Some weeks I just want to throw in the towel and go back to "not thinking" about plastic... but the truth is:  I couldn't go back to "not thinking"... even if I tried.  I'm too aware now.  I'm too aware of the negative impacts that plastics have on our environment, I'm too aware of the recycling myth, I'm too aware of the adverse health effects of plastics... I'm aware that there is absolutely no such thing as away.  I know too much to turn back now...  

So... while this is the halfway point, I'm still learning and figuring out how to get around using plastic.  I still purchase things in plastic...  I'm not perfect, but I'm not striving for perfection.  I'm striving for better.  I was talking to my friend about this whole "better" concept.  It goes like this.  I look at what I buy and then make a decision to buy it less.  If I buy something every week, I push it to every other week... then once a month and so on.  Sometimes I give up a product-- like plastic bags, straws, & bottled water-- completely.  It's one of those, could you imagine if everybody took the same approach things??  Individual actions-- good or bad-- when multiplied bring change.  I want my change to be part of reducing the need for landfills and not trashing or poisoning our world....

To learn more about my weekly collection, go here.
To see my first 13 weeks, go here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

That's (Still) My Ride

Not long ago, my friend's husband mentioned that I might have gone overboard with the amount of bumper stickers that I have on my car.  Funny that it all started  a little over a year ago with just three and now I have 22!  Ok... maybe that is a lot, but I can't seem help myself.  So I keep adding flair to share with other drivers (or passer-bys) who I am because I totally like to express myself ;)  (...and see people smile)

Yup, I'm the girl who says "F*@k Plastic"... loves the beach, believes in community and equality, supports local... and well, so much more.  Hi! I'm Danielle.... you know me ;)

Hmmm... the left side is looking a little bare... don't ya think??!! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 77

You know how during the last clean up, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of people at the beach??  WELL...Last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see the trash cans had been emptied (thank you WB!!)... but holy guacamole... thanks to it being the Fourth of July there were still SO many people on the beach!  Originally, my husband and I wanted to clean up again at Access 16... but with the amount of people all over the sand, we made our way to the slightly less crowded Access 15.  If you're unfamiliar with Wrightsville Beach... check out this map of the access points.

  Although the trash cans were all empty, we were so saddened and disappointed to see how much litter was left on the beach.  At the tideline, there were cigarette butts being washed in and out with the tide.  Under the pier was just horrible... lots and lots of plastic utensils and straws.  BUT... the worst thing??  Used disposable baby diapers.  By leaving diapers on the beach... it's like a double whammy.  Bad for the environment and totally gross.  I put used baby diapers up with feminine products and condoms on my list of the grossest things to find at the beach.
Whenever the beach is so trashed, we spend our time very focused picking up as much as we can in 20 minutes.  We find ourselves not talking as much because we feel this need to get it all... knowing, of course, that there is absolutely no way that we could ever get it all.  But we get what we can... and we do our best to help keep Wrightsville Beach clean and beautiful.
Every time we go to the beach, there is-- inevitably-- at least one person that says, "There sure are a lot of trashy people."  BUT... what I always find amazing is that those same people who judge others... have no problem walking past a piece of litter.  Hmmm.... (pause).... one thing that I have taught my kids is that if we walk by litter, then we are no different than the person who littered in the first place....

"Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does." 
 ~William James

20 minutes on July 4, 2011 at Access 15
Cigarette butts: 257

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 77 days: 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 76

For some unknown reason, I've been completely slacking when it comes to posting.  We hit the beach, clean it up... and count the mess... but the post just lags behind.  Hmmm...  Must be something about summer.  :)   Having not been out to Wrightsville Beach as much as I would've liked during the month of June, I'm making the commitment to get out to WB a lot more this month.

My mom and sister have been staying with us... so, on Friday, I asked them which access they wanted to go to.  My mom's response, "I want to go see how bad it is at the pier."  Wish granted.  We, along with my mom and sister, met my friend Tracy at Johnnie Mercer's Pier-- aka Access 16. 
My mom, my sister, and Tracy.
Since it was the start of the Fourth of July weekend, I had prepared myself for a disaster.  BUT... strange thing happened.  There was plenty of parking, the trashcans weren't overflowing and while the beach was definitely littered... it wasn't anywhere close to what we've seen in the past.  Thank goodness!
From the very start of this litter project, I've always been adamant about the fact that I am "never expecting perfect, I just want to get to better."  When I go to the wrack line and can pick up a handful of cigarette butts and plastics in less than a minute... I can honestly state: It's not better. (yet)  Wrightsville Beach is working on the cigarette butt issue.  From what I understand, they're passing out pocket ashtrays.  Not sure how to gauge whether or not it's working because we're still picking up a large amount of cigarette butts.  Hmmm...
Aside from counting cigarette butts, I also count other things including straws.  Friday we picked up a record number of straws:  64 in 20 minutes!  WHOA!  I'm sending my tallies to the WB-- Keep It Clean blog... and since May together we've removed 557 straws from WB!!!  YIKES!!  Please, please, please... when ordering your drink say, "I don't need a straw."  If you like to use straws... how about getting a reusable straw to carry with you??  I have some from Glass Dharma and I absolutely LOVE them!!   Another thing, skip the juice boxes.... take a reusable container and fill it with juice.  No straw or plastic straw wrapper to be littered is a good thing for the beach!! :)

20 minutes on July 1, 2011 at Access 16
Cigarette butts: 703

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 76 days: