Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 171

Every Christmas, my family and I go to Wrightsville Beach.  It's been a tradition for us since we moved to Wilmington... ask me what I want for Christmas and my response would be "To go to the beach."  I guess, growing up in the Midwest, there's just something special about being at the beach on Christmas and reminding myself that this is not a vacation.  I don't have to hop on a plane and leave....  THIS is life.

...and I've missed being here.  I spent the end of November and the first half of December traveling.  For a short part of my trip, I visited my good friend Sara Bayles in Santa Monica.  I was there to share in celebrating Sara's 365th beach clean up (and lots of other good fun that friends have when they don't see each other but once a year!)  Now that Sara has completed her goal, she's taking her passion and inspiration off the sand and on the road for her speaking tour.  For more information on how to have Sara come to your school or business, visit:
 Since 2010, it has been a tradition for me to do a Christmas day beach clean up.  It's my gift to the beach and ocean.  I get so much from just being there that in the midst of being busy and not having time... Christmas Day is a day that I make time.  My 33rd beach clean up was on Christmas 2010 and I did my 111th beach clean up Christmas 2011.... and now my 171st.  Which I'm happy to share that this has been my smallest Christmas Day beach clean up! 

It's not how much we give, but how much LOVE we put into giving. 
~Mother Teresa

20 minutes on December 25, 2012 at Access 16
Cigarette butts: 275
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 171 days:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Get Involved! Ban the Bag!

I am by every account the type of person that believes my choices matter.  I don't know how long I've been this way, but I suppose it's been so long that I can't quite remember when I wasn't.  My choices span from choosing to have a positive outlook and to such things as refusing single use plastics.  When it comes to refusing plastics... one of simplest things we can all do is to stop using plastic bags.

Long before I had a blog and long before I started down the path to using less plastic... I gave up using plastic bags.  Here's the plain and simple truth:  60,000 plastic bags are used EVERY 5 seconds in the US.  That's A LOT of plastic bags... and of all those plastic bags only a small percentage (between 3-5%) are even recycled.  SO... where do the other 95-97% of plastic bags end up? .

The majority of plastic bags used either end up in a landfill or worse littered in our environment-- roadways, parks, trees, beaches and oceans.  Because of plastic bags being so lightweight, there isn't a place that a plastic bag can't go.  Over the past couple of years, I have taken the time to document (as much as possible) plastic bags that have been (for the most part) unintentionally littered in our world.  I document their presence at the beach, I snap pictures of them in trees, and I even chase them down as they blow in the wind.  I do this all to bring awareness to this huge problem because from my personal experience I know that once I'm aware of a problem... I can no longer look away and I look to find solutions to the problem.

I used to think recycling was the answer... or at least part of it.  But, it's not.  Recycling is NOT the answer.  There are several things that we as individuals can do to begin to create change and begin to rid our world of the ubiquitous plastic bag.

1.  Use reusable bags.  Make the decision to never accept plastic bags.  Forget your reusable bags? Get resourceful and rethink how to get your purchases out of the store without plastic bags.  I've been known to use my shirt, pile items in my hands or even push a cart full of groceries to my car without bags.  ;)

2. Document: See a littered plastic bag?  Pick it up, document and share what you find!

3. Sign petitions to ban the bag in your area.  Locally Cape Fear Surfrider has a petition for Ban the Bag New Hanover County.  Please add your name to the petition here: Ban the Bag!  

Want to get more involved in the local movement to ban the bag in NHC, contact Ethan:

4. Stretch your activist muscles and get involved in the Ban the Bag movement.  Factory Direct Promos recently created an interactive global map that highlights plastic bag bans and legislation limiting their use.  It's a great resource to see how other places have succeeded in implementing legislation-- whether bans or fees-- to limit the use of single-use plastic bags.  No plastic bag legislation in your area? Do some research, connect to the community and start a petition!