Friday, September 28, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 159

When I stepped onto the beach on Wednesday, I immediately questioned my decision to do a beach clean up at 3:30 in the afternoon.  One thing that I haven't always been comfortable with is doing solo beach cleanups when there are lots of people at the beach.  Having to walk around and in between groups makes me feel awkward... undoubtedly someone will notice what I'm doing... watchful eyes... it's like having an audience.
Of course, I was committed to doing the beach clean up... and pressed on through my uncomfortableness.  About half way through my 20 minutes, I was making my way around a large group when I heard a voice: "How many cigarette butts have you picked up?"  I was about 6 feet away, so I stepped closer and said "a lot" and asked how he knew that's what I was doing (??).

His response:  Because that's what's here to pick up.

I ended up having a nice conversation with them about the cigarette litter problem at Wrightsville Beach... and I even learned that they had signed the petition for Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach!! {{SMILE}}  What the heck was I so nervous about?!?  (lesson relearned)

20 minutes on September 26 at Access 19
Litter by weight: 9.5 oz
Cigarette butts: 236
Total amount of cigarettes removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 159 days:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 158

Since August of 2010, I've done a lot of beach clean ups.  Because I spend a good amount picking up things at the beach, I've found a fair amount of sea glass ... I've even found and returned a cell phone... but mostly, I've picked up more trash than I would have ever thought possible (and this project is still far from over).

On Sunday, while finishing up my 20 minute beach clean up with my friend Tracy, she found something very rare and what I think is one of the most incredible beach finds EVER-- a roll of film!!!!

A completely intact roll of film!!
Now I'm not sure how long it takes for a film canister to start to rust... but from what we can tell everything looks completely sealed and most likely there are pictures inside just waiting to be developed.  Yes, Tracy and I are both SO curious about what's on this professional black & white film, that Tracy is taking the film to have it developed! (stay tuned!)  
20 minutes on September 16, 2012 at Access 36
Cigarette butts: 343
Straws: 31
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 158 days:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 157

This past Saturday was Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup day!  If you're unfamiliar with ICC, it's the worlds largest volunteer effort for ocean health.   With our locally scheduled event being a couple of weeks away, I decided to do my own cleanup at Wrightsville Beach.
When it comes to ICC, one of the main things that happens is that EVERYTHING is counted and tallied.  Volunteers tallying trash from the shores of lakes, rivers, streams and the ocean has the ability to show us the BIG picture of the major trash problems found all over the world.    

One thing that I always try to reiterate here is that Wrightsville Beach is a beautiful beach and the litter problems here are not just a Wrightsville Beach problem.  With every beach clean up we do at our local beach, it only paints a small picture to what is a global problem.  But, here's the thing that is important to remember about the "small local" picture:  Solutions to global problems start at the local level.  If we want to begin to change a global problem, we first have to start locally.
And when we start locally, we first have to look at ourselves and our own personal habits.  Take a look at the TOP TEN ITEMS FOUND chart (above).  When I first started doing beach cleanups, I asked myself:  "What things do I use on this list?  How can I begin to help change this?"  

Repeat after me.

Change starts with me... 
I am part of the solution... 
I am the difference.

20 minutes on September 15, 2012 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 6.7 oz
Cigarette butts: 131
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 157 days:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Me, Who Dove Into the Heart of the World [Book Review]

As much as I would like to call myself an avid reader, unfortunately with everything else going on in my life... I don't get to read as much as I would like to.  When I do find time for reading, the books that I pick up tend to be more factual based... especially dealing with topics about our environment.  So when I heard about the new book Me, Who Dove Into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman being a novel about conservation and environment, I immediately became intrigued and wanted to read it.

When the book arrived in the mail, I couldn't wait to read it just based on the cover. (yes, I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but when a book cover is beautiful... it's hard not to ;))  The book opens at one of my favorite places:

". . . the sea . . .
     . . . and the white sand beach . . ."

And just like that I was sucked in to this beautifully written, quirky and captivating book.  Written like the main character (Karen Nieto--an autistic savant known as "Miss Different Abilities") is sitting down with you telling you her life story... it's raw, pulls at the heartstrings and is a book that's hard to put down.  Well, there are various times in the book when Karen needs a break to get a "glass of water"... when I, too, found myself doing the same. :) 

Throughout the book, I marked pages because I found myself nodding in agreement with what was written... connecting to ideas and intrigued by the way the main character viewed the world and her place in it.   A few of my favorites are: 

"I also very much like the names of colors, which are things that are almost not things.  I mean, colors are things that just barely exist.  Between being and not being, they are like miracles."

"The standard human world: a bubble where nothing that isn't human is really seen or heard, where only what's human matters and everything else is either background, or merchandise, or food."

"About a text written by a Mr. Aristotle that claimed that humans are unique because they have souls, feelings, and intelligence, while other animals are complex robots with no souls, minds, reasoning, or ability to suffer or feel, I wrote 1 word: Idiotic." 

To say that I loved Me, Who Dove Into the Heart of the World would be a complete understatement.   For me, the true test of a good book is if I become emotionally enthralled in the book.  While reading, I had moments where I was confused, happy, sad, laughing out loud, and at times I even found myself frustrated.  Yes, this book was playing like a movie for me... the characters came to life and I totally got into this book so much that I had to remind myself that it was fiction.  I absolutely adored the book and now that I'm done reading it, I can't wait to pass it on to the avid readers in my life :)

Want to know a little more about the book?  Here's the description from the publisher:

Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World (on-sale 8/7) is an extraordinary fiction debut by the award winning Mexican playwright, journalist and poet Sabina Berman. It’s an incredible story that explores how we live, what we eat, and the way we connect with others.

Karen Nieto grew up as a feral child, left alone to wander the beach near her family’s failing tuna cannery. But when her aunt Isabelle comes to Mexico to take over the familybusiness, she discovers a real girl amidst the squalor. Karen, an autistic savant, soon finds freedom not only in the love of her aunt, but also swimming amongst the creatures of the sea. Karen is defined by the things she can’t do until her gifts with animals are finally put to use to save the fishery: Consolation Tuna will be the first humane tuna fishery on the planet. Greenpeace approves, fame and fortune follow, and Karen is swept on a global journey that shows how our lives can defy even our own wildest expectations.

Thank you to Henry Holt publishing for sending me a copy of Me, Who Dove Into the Heart of the World 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 156

Well, it's official.  This 156th beach clean up is a DOUBLE milestone clean up!  Taking only 20 minutes whenever we visit Wrightsville Beach, we have managed to pick up over 300 lbs of litter AND remove over 50k littered cigarette butts from Wrightsville Beach!!
Now this wasn't accomplished by myself alone.  Nope.  Most beach clean ups, I'm joined by husband and three kiddos... and from time to time I'm joined by family and friends.  A HUGE thank you to everyone who has joined us for a 20 minute beach clean up at Wrightsville Beach to help us with this effort... I'm grateful for your willingness to help, the encouragement you give and most of all your friendships.

 Want to see who has helped us and when?  Go here.  And if you want to join us to do a 20 minute beach clean up at Wrightsville Beach, I'd love it!  Feel free to message me through Facebook  or drop me an email :)
Being that this blog was inspired by my good friend Sara's The Daily Ocean, I've taken the time to weigh all of the litter we pick up (minus large items like boogie boards and chairs).  Every beach clean up we do, Sara adds the weight to her Community Collection.  As of this clean up, we've added 300 lbs 14.6 oz to The Daily Ocean Community Count (which is now I believe over 1000 lbs!).  To learn more about The Daily Ocean Community Count Collection and to get involved.... go here.
Sara and I are also still doing our cigarette litter comparisons between our two beaches.  Just for a refresher, we started doing these comparisons to see what the difference would be between a smoke-free beach (Santa Monica) and a beach that still permitted smoking on the beach (WB).  Here's the most recent tally numbers: 

59 clean ups: 357 cigarette butts in Santa Monica
33 clean ups: 7,877 in Wrightsville Beach

One beach. 20 minutes at a time... 

We can make a huge difference in our world...
we have the ability to create change... 
we just have to be willing to try.

Let's try together.
20 minutes on September 2, 2012 at Access 26
Cigarette butts: 550
Straws: 10
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 156 days: