Friday, April 27, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 135

This afternoon, I met a couple of moms from Mother's United at Wrightsville Beach.  Mother's United is a group of moms that are taking an active role in causes that impact the health of their (our) children because as they say "sometimes being a good mom means being an active citizen."
...and we're all learning.  Being an active citizen takes time and effort... and everyone knows that when you have kids, the amount of time you have to give (which usually isn't much) has to be spent wisely.  As much as I try to be an active and engaged citizen.... sometimes I fall short of what I want to be involved in.  I constantly have to remind myself that I can only do so much and that my first priority is being a mom to my three amazing kids.  BUT.  There are times when I personally push myself past the "I have kids, I can't do that"... "I can't attend that with my kids"... "I don't have time" lines and remind myself that because I HAVE kids is one of the main reasons that I NEED to show up... I have to make the time.  Thursday evening was one of those instances.  

Last night (April 26), my family and I attended the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management hearing for public comments regarding seismic testing off the Atlantic coast.  I am concerned about this on so many different levels... one being the negative impact that seismic testing has on marine mammals and other aquatic marine life.  AND... Let's just get it out there.  If they take the time to test for oil and natural gas reserves in the Atlantic Ocean... then it's obvious the next step would be to drill.  Drilling = spilling

I spend so much time at the beach... giving what I can to help keep it clean and beautiful because I love it so much.  I hate to think about the negative impacts that seismic testing has on all marine life... and it pains me to imagine the possibility of drilling for oil (or greenwashed "natural" gas) off our coast.  So we went to the hearing, because it was important.  I have to say being at the hearing was really really awesome.  Seeing the community come out and rally together in support of our oceans, beaches, marine life and ecosystems, marine fisheries, environment, economy and a sustainable future was an inspiring thing to see... and once again made me so proud of our community.  My husband along with 27 other people spoke out against seismic testing and in favor of Alternative C-- no action.  NC Senators Thom Goolsby and Bill Rabon along with another person (who appeared to work for the oil industry) commented in favor of seismic testing and off-shore drilling in the Atlantic.  28-3 against off-shore drilling!!
But while it felt good to be at the meeting and witness the community come together.  That meeting wasn't the end.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is accepting public comment until May 30. I cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone (including YOU) to take the time to send a public comment opposing seismic testing off the Atlantic coast and in support of Alternative C.  This is the only time we have a chance to say anything... don't sit back thinking someone else has it under control... this isn't a someone else thing.. this is a "WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER" event!!

Please send written comments to by May 30, 2012

For more information, visit: 

20 minutes on April 27, 2012 at Access 29
Cigarette butts: 159
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 135 days:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 134

Saturday morning, we woke up early and headed to Wrightsville Beach to set up the Surfrider Spring Beach Sweep at Wrightsville Beach.  If you didn't know, my husband and I both volunteer with Cape Fear Surfrider... it's something that we really enjoy doing because we get to connect with a community of people who are taking an active role in protecting and caring for our beaches.  I always encourage everyone to learn more about the work Surfrider Foundation does to protect our oceans, waves and beaches for now and tomorrow... and wherever you are (and whether you're a surfer or not) to definitely get involved with this awesome awesome organization!

As the sweep started, I decided to do a 20 minute beach clean up.  Normally, I don't do our beach clean ups in the morning, but since I was already there... it only made sense!  So I set off following fairly far behind WB Mayor Cignotti, who was volunteering during the Surfrider clean up.  I thought since someone was already picking up ahead of me that there wouldn't be too much to pick up.  Wrong.

In 20 minutes, I picked up 212 cigarette butts.  When Mayor Cignotti finished, he had picked up 211!  Two other Surfrider volunteers counted a whopping 457 cigarette butts that they found on WB!  I've added those two counts to the community count on the sidebar, which pushes the community count for WB to: 11,561!!

Not surprising: Cigarette butts were by far the most found littered item during the Surfrider clean up.
Since today is Earth Day, I was really hoping to do another 20 minute beach clean up.... but it just didn't happen.  Much needed rain and an opportunity to sit down with a friend and talk about some important issues facing our area... meant that a beach clean up could wait until another day.  Besides, in my world... everyday really is Earth Day. :)

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.  
~George Bernard Shaw

Happy Earth Day today and everyday!

20 minutes on April 21, 2012 at Access 29
Cigarette butts: 212

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 134 days:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 133

When I went to the beach today to meet some friends, I told my kids that I was going to bring my bag "just in case".... and that my plan was just to just sit down and relax.  The thought was nice... but I hadn't made it all the way up the access before my plan changed.  What can I say?  I love the beach and it's harder for me to walk by litter than it is to just pick it up.  Speaking of my love for the beach... found this today.
On Thursday, I attended the Wrightsville Beach Board of Alderman meeting in support of Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach.  It's been a month since the proposed ordinance to ban smoking on the beach strand was voted down 3-2.  It was an exciting meeting as Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation was presenting a formal petition in support of the proposed smoke-free beach strand ordinance from the residents of Wrightsville Beach.  I, once again, presented what I've been documenting at Wrightsville Beach along with the new research that Sara and I are doing regarding smoke-free beaches and their impact on cigarette litter to urge the WB BOA to adopt the ordinance to ban smoking on the beach strand.     
When it comes to public speaking.... Truth is, I'm not much of a public speaker.  In fact, I absolutely dread it!  I was telling my friend Jason after the meeting that "when I first started this project, I really just expected to hand over everything I was doing to someone else."  I thought that I could be the person that did the research and that was that.  It was a nice thought, but it turns out that there isn't anyone else that I could've ever turned my work over to..... So yes, sometimes I'm uncomfortable.  But, sometimes, we have to do things that make us uncomfortable to bring about the change that is needed. 

I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that.  
Then I realized that I am somebody.

20 minutes on April 16, 2012 at Access 34
Cigarette butts: 175

 Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 133 days:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 132

For me, there is no better place than the beach.  It doesn't really matter what I'm doing there... I always love it.  I love the sounds of shorebirds and crashing waves... I love the smell of the salty air... I love the sand between my toes... I love love love it all... for everything it has always been and for everything it will be... and so I go to the beach to protect what I love.

For the past 132 non-consecutive days, I have gone to Wrightsville Beach and taken 20 minutes to pick up litter.  It's not something I view as a chore or an obligation.  It's something that I do as a commitment to the place I love because it's the right thing to do.  And so I have given thanks to the ocean, waves and Wrightsville Beach by removing 44,036 cigarette butts and over 261 pounds of litter with the help of my family and friends.
Bonnie and Ginger posing with a garden rake we found!
Tomorrow, I will go back to the Town of Wrightsville Beach and present to them (once again) the work that I continue to do at Wrightsville Beach.  I will be there wearing blue to show my continued support for the proposed ordinance to ban smoking on the beach strand.  As you know, Sara and I have been comparing how many cigarette butts we pick up in 20 minutes.  Sara is in Santa Monica where smoking is banned on the beach.  If anyone ever doubted whether or not smoke-free beaches work to help reduce cigarette litter... Sara and I are removing all doubt.  Here's where our comparisons are now:

9 beach clean ups-- 105 cigarette butts in Santa Monica
9 beach clean ups-- 2,784 cigarette butts in Wrightsville Beach

Come out to the WB Board of Alderman meeting at WB Town Hall at 6PM to show your support for helping eliminate the number one littered item on the beach strand.  Come wearing blue and support Smoke-Free WB!

20 minutes on April 10, 2012 at Access 15
Cigarette butts: 380
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 132 days:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 131

A couple of days ago, my friend Sara who writes The Daily Ocean let me know that she picked up 4 cigarette butts during her most recent 20 minute beach clean up in Santa Monica (a smoke-free beach).  So far Sara has removed 105 cigarettes in 9 beach clean ups.  While we have done only 8 beach clean ups at Wrightsville Beach and have removed 2,004 cigarette butts.
 I've become very intrigued by the difference in amount of cigarette butts and weight that we each remove from our beaches.  So, I got to thinking.  We had done our 130th beach clean up and I wondered... "How many pounds of trash had Sara removed from her beach in Santa Monica by the same point I'm at... day 130??"  Of course, I looked it up...  Interesting thing.  Sara's 130th beach clean up was the day that my family and I met Sara.  It's super fun to look back and see where it all started...

The Daily Ocean: Day 130-- July 16, 2010  

... Ok.  Back to where I was.  By day 130, Sara had removed a over 515 lbs of trash from her beach in Santa Monica.  By our 130th beach clean up we had only removed 250 lbs of trash from Wrightsville Beach.  To me this is SO significant.  It boggles my mind a bit...  By sheer weight, it would appear that Wrightsville Beach is less littered... that makes me happy.  BUT... we pick up 20 times the amount of cigarette butts!  Wrightsville Beach (once again) has the opportunity to remove the most littered item on the beach strand... come out to the WB Board of Alderman meeting on April 12 at 6PM.  Wear a blue shirt and come support a Smoke-Free WB!
If you've been reading along for awhile now... or have ever glanced at what it says at the top of this blog-- It starts with me and ripples to you-- you know that I started this blog to share the things I do... the differences I make in this world to (hopefully) inspire others to action.  Yesterday, while we did a beach clean up at Wrightsville Beach... a new project was starting just to the south of us in Kure Beach...

To say Danielle's blog is about picking up litter would be an understatement.  Words here cannot fully express the depth of her project and how far reaching it is becoming. Her beach butts project got my attention.  How many cigarette butts have I seen on the beach since being here?  Tons.  And how many had I picked up?  Not one.  Until now.  Danielle and I have made contact and I am doing my part for The Daily Ocean. 

Words cannot begin to convey what this means to me... I'm flattered and touched... I'm inspired... I'm motivated.  I am grateful.

20 minutes on April 8, 2012 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 8 lbs 1.4 oz
Cigarette butts: 642

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 131 days:


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Local & Plastic-Free: Strawberry Granita

I have a deep deep love for strawberries... well, not just any strawberries.  Local in-season strawberries.  Ever since we moved to Wilmington and I ate berries picked straight from the plant... I couldn't go back to buying strawberries out of season.  Seriously.  Every time I tried to buy berries that had been shipped in from Florida or California (no offense!)... I'd always be disappointed in flavor and texture.  Then when I started to really focus on reducing our plastic waste, buying out of season strawberries was an easy thing to say adios! to.   So all fall and all winter... I blend frozen strawberries (that I picked) in smoothies to give me my strawberry fix... and I wait and wait and long for fresh picked strawberries.

...and then I go overboard!
On Tuesday, my kids and I went to Lewis Farms and picked around 30 pounds of strawberries!  What can I say? Once you start it's really hard to stop!!!  SO... biggest question I've gotten from people I've told that fun fact to is:  What the heck are you going to do with all of those berries?!?

Ummm... eat them of course ;) 

Besides eating them in their most beautiful state... I'll also be making fruit leather, tarts, jam, shortcakes, and more including some recipes I've been wanting to try in Blissful Bites.  Today, I tried my hand at making strawberry granita!  Plain and simple... it was amazing!  It was so good that my kids came back for seconds, thirds and fourths!  To them it was like a sno-cone (a healthy one without artificial anything!) and they couldn't stop eating it!  (That my friends is a victory!)

Strawberry Granita
from Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

2 pounds strawberries
6 TBSP organic raw sugar
1 cup water
juice of 1 small lemon (optional)

Slice strawberries into a large bowl.  Add sugar to strawberries and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

In a blender, add strawberries including liquid, water, and lemon juice.  Process until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a shallow pan (13x9 glass dish or 2 qt casserole dish).  Place in the freezer.  After about 30 minutes, check the mixture to see if it's begun to freeze.  When the mixture begins to get icy around the edges, take a fork and stir the edges to the center every 20-30 minutes.  This process of scraping and stirring will take about 2 hours (depending, of course, what size dish you use and the depth of the liquid this could be less or more time).  Once the mixture is "frozen" scrape evenly with a fork into flakey crystals. Serve immediately or store in the freezer for up to one day.

NOTE: If you don't want to do the "work" of making granita, you can easily make this mixture into popsicles!  Instead of pouring the strawberry mixture into a dish, just pour into popsicle molds! :)  Mmmmm....

Warning: Watch out because if posting about strawberries is anything like picking them... there may be many more strawberry posts on the way... but hey! they're prettier than cigarette butts right?!? ;) 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Glass Dharma's 1000 FREE Glass Straws for Earth Day

It's only been a year since I started sipping my drinks again.  You see, I went several years saying "no thank you" to disposable plastic straws.  After finding so many littered on the beach, I just can't force myself to use them.  I still refuse plastic straws, but thanks to Glass Dharma reaching out to me last Earth Day, I have grown very fond of glass straws. :)

Some people say that Christmas is the season for giving, but if you know Glass Dharma... their season for giving is happening right now!  Each year for the past 4 years, Glass Dharma marks Earth Day by giving away FREE (yup, I said it: FREE) glass straws!!  AND... this year they want to go BIG!  Glass Dharma wants to give away 1000 FREE glass straws!!

It's super easy to participate!  Glass Dharma is asking YOU to share why you love glass straws OR why you would love a glass straw!  I'm super stoked that Glass Dharma has asked me to take an active role in helping them give away 1000 glass straws that I had to make a submission of my own to share!

Yup, I love sipping my drinks... slurping up the end of my smoothies... and taking my kids to get fun things like root beer floats.... all while encouraging others to kick their plastic straw habit.  :)

How about you?  What do you LOVE (or what would you love) about glass straws??

To participate in the 1000 FREE Glass Straws for Earth Day, be sure to follow all of the directions below! If you have questions, let me know!

Entrants - please include:
1. 100 to 200 word essay in an attached document (or) a link to a 1 to 3 minute YouTube Video
2. Your name, email address and mailing address. (In the body of your email)
3. Email your request for a free glass straw to: 
4. One entry per person (If multiple people are using the same email address, please note in the body of the email.)

Glass Straws and how they relate to a better world is the suggested inspiration point of submissions for this contest. Content ideas might include: Beauty, Joy, Taste & Planet Care (Environmental). Creativity is encouraged as you write or shoot your video!

Video and Essay submission instructions – simply include the link to your “YouTube Video” or attach your essay to your email (Word format (.doc) or basic text (.txt) format please)  

Electronic (email) submissions are preferred to snail mail as an optimum eco-choice. All entries must be received by Earth Day, April 22. We will begin shipping the straws after April 1st and the 2 grand prize winners will be posted (and contacted) by May 5th.

The first 1000 essay/video contest entries received by the Earth Day deadline will receive a free Glass Straw from GlassDharma!Please note that GlassDharma will pay shipping charges for each free glass straw up to $3.00 (free shipping for USA deliveries)

A judging panel consisting of three passionate Environmental Bloggers and three members of the GlassDharma staff is ready to select 10 finalists, five for the video category, and five for the essay category.  One Grand Prize Winner for each category will be selected by popular vote amongst the judges. Grand Prize Winners will receive a $100.00 electronic GlassDharma Gift Code by email.

Music in video by Joel P. West.

More blogposts about the 1000 Free Glass Straws:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 130

If anyone were to ever ask me "what is the greatest thing that has happened from starting this litter project at Wrightsville Beach?"... I would easily respond "All of the people I've met and friends I've made."  It's true.  This simple project has connected me to people that I would have never known, let alone met.  By putting good karma out into the world/universe, we truly reflect back to us what we give and are rewarded with the best gifts... mine has come back full force with connecting me to amazing people and my good karma has rewarded me with friendships and so much more... :)
On Sunday, my family and I met Jillian-- a UNCW student-- at Johnnie Mercer's Pier to do our 130th beach clean up!  I met Jillian at the end of the WB public hearing on the proposed ordinance to ban smoking on Wrightsville Beach.  The vote didn't turn out the way I had hoped and I was all shaken up and frustrated... Jillian immediately brightened my spirits by asking if she could join us on a beach clean up and interview me (as a local activist! who me?! yes. me.)  for her "Writing & Activism" class.  Acknowledging me as an "activist" is a compliment that did something for me... gave me a nudge.... and since that night, I am working at wholeheartedly embracing the fact that I am an "activist."  (Thanks Jillian!!)  
Oh wait... back to the public hearing.  Have you heard there's big news on Smoke-Free WB?!?  Oh yes. BIG news.  There is currently a petition circling Wrightsville Beach for WB registered voters to sign stating their support for a smoke-free beach ordinance.  This petition could have the POWER to nudge the WB Board of Alderman to revisit their March 8 decision to vote against the smoke-free beach strand ordinance.  This is HUGE.  

If you're reading this and you are a registered voter at WB or have friends/family who are WB registered voters, please have them stop by Sweetwater Surf Shop or Lighthouse Beer & Wine to sign the petition. Also, we'd love to have you, your family, your friends... your friends of friends... join us on April 12 at WB Town Hall at 6PM.  

Questions?  Please don't hesitate to ask me or contact Cape Fear Surfrider  

20 minutes on April 1, 2012 at Access 16
Cigarette butts: 278
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 130 days: