Friday, September 16, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 100

I went to the beach with every intention of not doing a 20 minute clean up.  You see, I knew my next clean up would be my 100th... and I had big plans for #100.  I had been thinking about it for awhile... I really wanted to invite people to come out and join us for the momentous clean up... but sometimes things don't happen the way we think they should.  As I sat on the beach eating my dinner and snapping photos of the seagulls flying all around us, my husband said, "Look, there's a girl back there picking up litter."  Sure enough, I looked.  Then I paused and said, "Hey! That's Susan!"

Susan is a volunteer with the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project and contributes to the WB- Keep It Clean blog where she shares not only the litter she picks up, but also the treasures she finds!  Seeing Susan on the beach, made me change my mind about my 100th clean up... I mean... as much as we go out to Wrightsville Beach, we hardly ever run into people we know.  This was a rare event that I couldn't pass up!!   (Guess I'll have to do something for my 101st clean up... ;) )  In our 20 minutes at Access 40, Susan picked up 128 cigarette butts.  I'm adding that amount to the Wrightsville Beach Community Count (found on the sidebar)... THANKS Susan!!!

Another rare find at the beach last night: a horseshoe crab.  My daughter spotted it and I was super excited that she immediately knew what it was!  All those visits to the NC Aquarium payed off!! ;)  Did you know that horseshoe crabs are considered living fossils?? AND... that they actually are more closely related to spiders and scorpions?!?  Really amazing animal!!  Now, of course, it was no longer living... but it was still super cool to find on the beach especially considering I had started to wonder if they existed in the wild since I've only ever seen them at the NC Aquarium.

 On October 1, I'll be at Wrightsville Beach Access 4 volunteering with Ocean Cure for Life Rolls On: They Will Surf Again.  If you'll be in the area, learn more and register to volunteer here.  
On the same day (and same access), Surfrider Cape Fear Chapter is going to be having a beach clean up to mark the beginning of RAPtoberfest!!  What's RAPtoberfest??  Well... Surfrider will be dedicating the entire month of October to organizing beach clean ups and passing along tips to RISE ABOVE PLASTICS!!!  Bonnie, Ginger and I will be setting up our litter awareness art to help raise awareness to the amount of litter found on the beach... especially plastics!  So come out and see us!!!

20 minutes on September 15, 2011 at Access 40
Cigarette butts: 163
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 100 days:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 99

Sunday evening, my family and I met our friends Bonnie, Ginger and John at the beach to do a little... ok... a BIG litter awareness art project in the sand with (almost) all of the litter that Ginger and John picked up on their morning turtle walks at Wrightsville Beach.  It took us a few trips up the steps to Johnnie Mercer's Pier and a good hour before we figured out exactly how it should be.  As we made adjustments and discussed how we could make it better, we watched as people walked by and slowed down... it definitely grabbed the attention of beach goers that passed by, which was super exciting because bringing awareness to a problem is the first step to changing a problem.
Speaking of art.  Bonnie is having an art exhibit that will run from September 22- October 27 at UNCW's Boseman Gallery.  Since I've seen a bit of what Bonnie has created...I'm super excited to see it all come together!!  So, if you're in Wilmington (or nearby) mark your calendars.

Just in today:  The lawsuit that was brought on ChicoBag by plastic bag giants has been settled!!  WOOT!  Such great news!  Plastic bags blow!! We picked up 2 plastic bags on the beach on Sunday evening AND Sunday morning my husband picked up several plastic bags in the water as he was SUPing two of our kids around Wrightsville Beach.  Every time I'm able to snap a photo of a plastic bag in the environment, I add it to Surfrider Foundation Cape Fear Chapter's photos on Facebook, if you catch a plastic bag in "action" snap a photo, grab it... then post your photo!

Saturday, September 24th is NC BIG SWEEP!!  Volunteers are needed, so come on out and help clean up our beaches and waterways!

Please come prepared to be outdoors: wear sunscreen, sturdy closed toe shoes and clothes that can get dirty.  Help us reduce the amount of waste at the event by bringing your own reusable water bottle and gloves if you have them."

20 minutes on September 11, 2011 at Access 16

Cigarette butts: 759
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 99 days: 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 98

Friday night was a SUPER exciting night!!  Moments after doing our 20 minute clean up at Access 36, we walked a bit north on the beach to see a Loggerhead sea turtle nest excavation!!!
It was so amazing seeing the teeny tiny baby sea turtles make their way to the ocean... and being there to witness this event solidified even more how important what we are doing really is...
One of my favorite sites for learning about sea turtles is  If there was anything you ever wanted to learn about sea turtles... that's the place to go :)  By the way... did you know? 

It's estimated that only 1 in 1000 sea turtle hatchlings will make it to adulthood.  (...whatever it is that we can do to help them make it to adulthood... I feel like it's our responsibility to do so.... "No thank you plastic _______.")

Hatchlings use the natural light horizon along with the white crests of the waves to reach the water when they emerge from the nest.  Any other light sources such as beachfront lighting, street lights, car lights, camera flashes, etc can disorientate the hatchlings and send them in the wrong direction. (That's no bueno!)

Sea turtle hatchlings have a long road to adulthood... the moment they emerge from the nest, they have natural predators-- ghost crabs, birds, dogs, raccoons, fish, etc-- to scoot and swim past.   ...And once they make it... they now have to contend with deciphering between what is edible food and what is our completely unnatural toxic trash.  (Only WE can change that.)
Rewinding a bit:  On Thursday evening, we met our friend Sean with the Surfrider Foundation at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall with all 33,989 cigarette butts we've collected off of Wrightsville Beach.  Sean presented to the Board of Aldermen about micro-litter (specifically cigarette butts) on WB.  He ended with asking the board to revisit the idea of banning smoking on the beach...  
Only time will tell what the board decides to do with the information that Sean presented to them.  In the meantime... we'll still be heading out to Wrightsville Beach... doing 20 minute clean ups and counting cigarette butts.

20 minutes on September 9, 2011 at Access 36

Cigarette butts: 193

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 98 days:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 97

Once again we made it to the beach VERY late... this whole end of summer thing is really throwing me for a loop!!  I need to make a mental note to head to the beach 30 minutes earlier than I think I do!!  Check it out... this is what it looked like when we got to the beach!!!  Absolutely no time to spare... we headed right and got a move on doing our 20 minute clean up...

Walking around on Wrightsville Beach last night, something looked different.  There was a noticeable lack of litter.  Turns out that a local church group decided that-- since Labor Day had just passed-- it was important to do a beach clean up at  Wrightsville Beach.  Agreed!  High 5's to them!!! :D  Since they were picking up the majority of "bigger" items... it left us to focus on the "smalls."
During clean ups post Hurricane Irene, we've noticed a drastic increase in plastic caps.  My thinking is that those caps were buried in the sand and when the hurricane moved the sand around on the beach... she uncovered things (such as bottle caps).  Well... last night at the high tide line I saw this bottle cap peeking out from the sand.  Made me wonder how many more are buried...hmmm???  Guess we'll find out if we get another hurricane...
Over the weekend, I got messages from my friends Julie and Ginger.  Julie went to Access 36 with her family and picked up 370 cigarette butts.  Ginger and her husband John adopted Access 18 and in 15 minutes Ginger picked up 406 cigarette butts!!  Those amounts have been added to the community count on the sidebar!  The new Wrightsville Beach community count total is at: 9,617!!

Rewinding: A year ago on September 7, we did our 8th beach clean up!  At the time, the fact that I had 2,291 cigarette butts sitting in my garage was something that was so unbelievable to me.  Now... a year later....we have almost 34,000 cigarette butts.  And all it took was 20 minutes at a time...

20 minutes on September 7, 2011 at Access 19

Litter by weight: 1 lb 6.8 oz
Cigarette butts: 1,633
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 97 days: 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 96

After 11 days, my husband and oldest son are back from their vacation to Alaska and back to helping do our 20 minute beach clean ups!!  Since they were gone so long, they missed out on Hurricane Irene and our record breaking clean up on Day 95 at Access 17. In case you missed it, my daughter, Bonnie and I picked up 2,026 cigarette butts!!  Naturally, my husband was bummed that he missed that and wanted to see if we could beat that record.  We didn't beat the record... but surprisingly we came CLOSE!!  This clean up marks the 2nd largest pick up we've ever had!!!  

Since we felt like we left A LOT behind on Day 95, we made the decision to go back to Access 17.  Low and behold the mess was still there, but with it was leftovers from Labor Day beach goers.  One of the greatest things about being at the beach around  AT sundown-- we made it to the beach fairly late... around 7:30 PM and the sunset was A LOT earlier than we expected-- is that it is completely obvious what things have no ownership.  Boogie boards to water bottles... we found them last night.  By the way, the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project is wrapping up their season... that means their morning walks for turtle tracks and talkin' trash are nearing an end for the season.  While the numbers are still coming in, they've picked up an astonishing 663 grocery sized bags full of litter from WB.  If you haven't checked in on their blog in awhile, go stop by! :) Wrightsville Beach-- Keep It Clean
Every 20 minute beach clean up we do, I weigh the amount of litter we pick up (minus boogie boards and chairs) for The Daily Ocean Community Count.  After weighing last night's haul, we've officially picked up over 200 pounds of litter off of Wrightsville Beach!!  WOW!!!  Talk about having proof that taking a little bit of time to clean up our world can make a HUGE difference :)  
20 minutes on September 5, 2011 at Access 17

Cigarette butts: 1,879
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 96 days:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 95

Last night... was a record breaking night.  Our 20 minute clean up turned into almost 30 minutes... and even when we finished the section we started, as we left the beach we could see that there (literally) was no end in sight.  But, maybe I should rewind a bit... as much as I want to blurt everything out right now... let's start from the beginning.

Earlier in the day, I called Bonnie to see if she wanted to go for ice cream with us... ummm... YES!!  Then we decided that we would meet beforehand at Wrightsville Beach to do a 20 minute clean up.  :)  By the way, if you don't know who Bonnie is... you should!  She's been to 3 of the 5 ocean gyres studying the accumulation of plastics in our oceans.  AND... I'm super excited because she's currently working on an art exhibit that will be shown late September...

So... as it were... Claire and Henri were playing in the ocean... I saw a cigarette butt in the tideline...Bonnie grabbed a piece of plastic... and then Henri ran out of the water with a plastic bag (no not that kind... a package for rubber gloves).  As my kids finished playing and our clean up started, my kids made a beeline for the dunes/grasses... finding odds and ends of plastics along the way.

Then it happened, Bonnie called me over to the wrack line.  It was reminiscent of the wrack line that we came across on Day 11 at Access 20.  If you recall, we picked up 1,833 cigarette butts that day.  But, this day... we picked up more....  I attempted to take a picture, but realized that I couldn't fit into one frame what we were seeing... a photo couldn't explain why we didn't stop at the 20 minute mark.  As Bonnie says, "We were soooo outnumbered... the sun went down before we could even come close to finishing."  

I'm not sure where all of those cigarette butts came from, but here's the fact that matters: 
 They were all littered.  

We went over 20 minutes on September 3, 2011 at Access 17

Litter by weight: 2 lbs 6 oz
Cigarette butts: 2,026 
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 95 days:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 94

Last night, my two youngest and I stopped by Lovey's Market & CafĂ© to pick up some food for a picnic dinner at the beach with our friends :)  We ended up staying at the beach until it was pitch black and everyone was gone (yes, even all of the surfers)... the only thing we could hear was the crashing of the waves... ahhh.... the perfect music :)

When we first started our 20 minute clean up, I wandered over to Oceanic.  The wrack line was still pretty crazy, so I did quick sweep for straws.  Super happy that I didn't find any that appeared to have blown off of the pier!!  But, I did find this little guy... ok... he's kind of big!  AND... yes, I had to do a double take at first ;)

I don't always mention it, but I have the most awesome interaction with kids on the beach. When they figure out what we're doing they're most often the ones who come to me and say "thank you" or  quickly look around for something they can pick up to contribute to helping clean up the beach.  Kids are awesome like that.  Last night, as I was picking up litter, I heard a faint "Excuse me, what are you picking up?" As I looked up, I saw a little boy with his parents.  I told him that I was picking up trash and with that he said, "Here's some trash" Then he and his (maybe 2 year old) little sister each handed me a cigarette butt.

While I was picking up cigarette butts and bottle caps... my friend Tracy was slowly picking up little balls of styrofoam in the wrack line.  It was tedious (and slightly frustrating) work... one move of the wrack line and the styrofoam blew everywhere... Tracy was committed to getting as much of it as she could... and thinks that it's about time styrofoam was banned!!  I mean really, why are they still making that crap anyway????

20 minutes on September 2, 2011 at Access 36
Litter by weight: 1 lb 13.8 oz
Cigarette butts: 244
Wondering where my "group" photo is??  Well, I put my camera on manual focus to take this photo of Tracy holding this starfish that she found while sifting through all of the styrofoam... forgot to change my settings back, didn't pay any attention and took a blurry "group" photo!! oops!!  (shrug) Starfish are much more beautiful than a pile of trash anyway! ;)

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 94 days: 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

(Plastic-Free) Sweet Corn Tomalito

In the winter of 2006, pregnant with my third child, we left Wilmington to live by family in St. Louis.  The move didn't really work for us and was (obviously) short lived... we lasted a whopping 13 months before we could finally make our way back to our beautiful coastal community.  While I was super happy to be "home"....not long after moving back to Wilmington, I realized that I missed a few things about St. Louis.  Yes, the thing I missed most was family... but I also missed some random yummy foods.

During our short stay back in the Midwest, we grew very fond of Chevy's.  Ok, really... Chevy's wasn't amazing or anything... BUT... they had a super yummy corn pudding-like side dish.  Every time I would have Mexican, I would think about that corn pudding.  Sooo... I did what anyone these days does.  I googled... and voilĂ  magic ;)

I've been making this yumminess for the past four years... but not until a year ago did I start making it plastic-free!!  Ummm... maybe you remember that I said I was going to share the recipe back on day 1 of Plastic-Free Food week last September?!?  Sorry for being a slacker!!

Sweet Corn Tomalito
Recipe from St. Louis Post Dispatch (circa 1997)

1/2 c organic butter at room temperature
1/2 c Masa (for tamales)
1/2 c + 2TBSP sugar

4 c fresh corn removed from cobs (4-6 ears of corn depending on size), divided
3/4 c water
3/4 c cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c milk (I use homemade almond milk to make this plastic-free, but really any kind of milk will work.)

Oven directions: Place roasting pan in the oven.  Fill it with water to a depth of about 1".  Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, masa and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Spread in a glass dish with 2" sides. (Use a 2 qt round with a lid or an 8" square with aluminum foil.)

Blend 2 cups of the corn and water in a blender until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl (I use the same bowl that I mixed the butter mixture in) and add remaining 2 cups of corn, cornmeal, salt & milk.  Mix well, then spread on top of the butter mixture.

Cover with lid (or tightly with aluminum foil).  Place the dish into the water-bath.  After 15 minutes, stir... then stir again after 45 minutes.  Continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the tomalito comes out clean.  Keep tightly covered until ready to serve.

To serve, use an ice cream scooop :)

Approximately 16 (ice cream scoop sized) servings.

TIP: If you don't have a roasting pan (or large enough pan to make a water bath)... you can steam this on the stove-top using the double-boiler method :)