Saturday, January 28, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 115

There are some things that you just don't see when you look at beautiful pictures of the beach (or most photography for that matter).  Things are often cropped and cut out so that you only see what is beautiful.

I think about this fact a lot.... especially now that I've seen pictures of places... especially beaches that I once thought were pristine.
If anyone were to look at pictures of Wrightsville Beach on the internet (barring some of what I share, of course), they'd see a beautiful North Carolina Beach.  A place where families bring their children for a summer vacation, a place where surfers catch waves.... a place where amazing memories are created... a place of love.  All of that is Wrightsville Beach.  ....But Wrightsville Beach is also a place where we've picked up over 38,000 cigarette butts that had been put out in the WB sand.  It's a place where cigarette butts can be found in sandcastles and tide pools.  And, you obviously know that I have a problem with that.  I said from the beginning that I was going to help make Wrightsville Beach Smoke-Free... and I've committed myself to my community because I want to help make a difference.  BUT... here's the thing.  I can't do it alone.  I need YOUR help.  When we work TOGETHER to create change... anything is possible....

Speaking of together and community... my awesome friend, Tracy, was a freaking rockstar beach sweeper last night!!  Seriously, she was digging through the wrack line finding all sorts of littered items from fishing lines with hooks to lots and lots of styrofoam (grr).  She even found this:
A cigarette filter that has a root... maybe a branch of some sort growing through it. We wonder how long it take for this to happen???  Hmmmm....

20 minutes on January 27, 2012 at Access 43
Litter by weight: 3 lbs 12.4 oz 
Cigarette butts: 217

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 115 days:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 114

On Tuesday, while waiting for my daughter in the school pick up line... I sent a text to my friend Tracy letting her know that we were going to the beach.  I mean, how could we not go to the beach on a 75˚ day in January?!?  Litter project aside... I just wanted to walk... and I just wanted to sit on the beach and BE there feeling the air and listening to the ocean....
Of course, as much as I just wanted to do nothing but BE there.... I can't BE there without doing my part to help keep Wrightsville Beach beautiful.  So, I took a nice stroll down the beach and took 20 minutes to pick up litter.  During my short walk, I found a wide array of litter that included 30 bottle caps, 11 plastic straws, a balloon, and 181 cigarette butts.  Then I sat down next to my BFF and we talked and talked while our kids ran around having so much fun. Before we knew it the sun was setting.... the perfect ending to a perfect afternoon at the beach.

Dear Wrightsville Beach, we love you.

20 minutes on January 24, 2011 at Access 43

Litter by weight: 1 pound
Cigarette butts: 181

Total amount of cigarettes removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 114 days:


Friday, January 20, 2012

More Than Resolutions Revisited

Last year--as 2010 ended and 2011 began-- I began thinking about what I wanted to commit myself to for the year.  You see... 2010 was absolutely ah-mazing.  I had won the FilterForGood Film Project and began to "see" exactly what I was supposed to be doing.  I wanted 2011 to be the year that I gave back for all of the amazing things that had happened in 2010.  So...  having a thing (err... obsession?) with the number 5... I decided that I would make 5 resolutions (or commitments) for the new year.

Now that we're well into 2012... I think it's about time that I shared how my 2011 "More Than Resolutions" went....

1.  Join Surfrider.  Yeah, we became members right away.  Connected to our local chapter and made sure to attend all events.  BUT... we didn't stop there.  My husband and I both are now on the executive board of our local chapter-- Cape Fear Surfrider.   We're really loving taking an active role in helping create change and being part of a community of people who care about the same things that we do!!

Learn more about Surfrider Foundation here.

2.  Collect our plastic waste EVERY week for 2011.  And I did.  Every week I had a (small) pile of plastic sitting on my countertop to share on My Plastic Free Life "Plastic Trash Challenge."  I didn't hide it away in a cabinet... I left it in plain sight as a reminder of where I was.  Some weeks were AWESOME... others... not so much.  There are definitely some things that we can improve on... but we're getting better... and that's what is most important.  After a year of collecting our plastic, we have nearly perfected eating out and avoiding plastic and SO much more.  This year, I plan to share more of what we're doing to reduce the amount of plastic we use... and in turn reduce MORE!

Check out my plastic tallies for the year here: Plastic Trash Challenge >> Danielle 

Awesome outcome from collecting our plastic waste:  I've been asked to teach a "Plastic-Free Food" class at Tidal Creek Co-Op!  I'm super stoked to share some of how we're reducing our use of single-use disposable plastics and most importantly "why". :)

3.  Continue to support the efforts of Bonnie Monteleone.  If you've been reading this blog for awhile now... you know that I absolutely adore Bonnie.  She is a constant source of motivation and inspiration for me.  From traveling to research plastics in our ocean gyres to sharing what she's discovered through art... simply put she's amazing. So amazing incredible that she was chosen as a finalist in the global competition "In Search of Incredible".  Bonnie has big plans for this year, including traveling to the Indian Ocean.

Plus, we have some things we are going to be doing together and I can't wait to share them with everyone! :)

4. Become one of Wallace J. Nichols 100 Blue Angels.  We did this right away as well.  Then when it came time for my birthday in June, I asked that in lieu of gifts my friends and family donate to J.  We also took part of our California vacation and attended the 100 Blue Angels appreciation dinner.  It was a great time and we're so happy to contribute to a person who is such a strong voice for our oceans.

Learn more about the work J does and become one of his 100+ BlueAngels.

5. Ban the Bag Wilmington.  Ok, so we didn't ban the bag in 2011.  (I never thought we would.)  But, after writing a letter to Senator Goolsby regarding his sponsorship of a bill to repeal the OBX (that's Outer Banks) plastic bag ban, I got very involved in my local chapter of Surfrider (see #1)!  International Surfrider board member and local chapter Chair, Sean Ahlum, has given presentations at all of the beach towns and has garnered their support for a countywide plastic bag ban!  Now Sean and Bonnie are working side-by-side to garner even MORE support to ban the bag!  Community support is high for this to happen!  Ban the Bag Wilmington 2012??  I sure hope so!

Oh yeah... and thanks to my friends Kevin & Chris of Odysea Surf and Kiteboard School.... I totally learned how to surf!  (well... kind of... I can stand up on the board and ride a wave in.... that's surfing, right??)  ....and since I tried my legs at surfing in the summer and winter... I also learned that I'm not a fan of wetsuits or booties.  I like to feel the water... and well, I'm just a girl that always prefers to be barefoot.  Sooo.... I will only be surfing in the summer ;)
Happy 2012 everyone... here's to another year of giving back and making a difference.  May all the days of the year be filled with abundance... :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 113

On Thursday evening, my husband and I went to the Wrightsville Beach Town Hall to show our support for our friends that were presenting "Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach" to the Board of Aldermen.  The purpose of the presentations was to request a public hearing to revisit banning smoking on the beach strand.  After what seemed like the longest process to vote on having a public hearing added to the agenda... (including a strong motion to not have it on the agenda... grr).... a public hearing to "BAN SMOKING" on Wrightsville Beach is on the agenda for March 8!!!  <--- Mark your calendars!!!!
As I would imagine everyone knows... I started this project specifically for this very reason.  I'm passionate about helping make Wrightsville Beach the first "Smoke-Free" beach in North Carolina!!  Solana Beach was the first in California... and now there are 38 other California municipalities that have followed suit.  Curious about California and other states that have banned smoking on their beaches??  Check out this list!!
Some may say, "Why ban smoking?  There's so much other litter on the beach."  Here's my take on it.  Sure, we find a lot of litter on the beach besides cigarette butts... BUT... and this is a big 'but'... as many times as we've been to the beach... we have never picked up more _________ than cigarette butts.  As we passed the 38,000 mark today, I can attest to the simple fact that in 113 clean ups we have not picked up 38k of anything else.  The most littered item worldwide... this is a problem that isn't being fixed by education or fines.  What is in place now (obviously) isn't working.  Yeah, I have 38k+ cigarette butts to back that up.

I am committed to contributing everything I can to this community.  I love Wrightsville Beach and I'm stoked to be part of an amazingly inspiring and motivating team that's passionate about protecting, cleaning up and enjoying our beach.  Big thanks to my friend Bonnie for joining my husband and me at the beach today!!

20 minutes on Janurary 14, 2012 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 10.1 oz
Cigarette butts: 484

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 113 days:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Homemade Potato Chips

For all of 2011, I told myself... I'm going to make potato chips.  I can do it.  I mean, how hard can it really be??  But I time after time, I talked myself into not making them.  It wasn't until November when we had dinner with Beth, Michael and Manuel that I finally decided that I was really going to do it.  What happened during dinner??  I was inspired.  Manuel was telling me about how his sister was craving jalepeƱo potato chips.  Hey... I crave those too!!  Instead of buying her a bag chips, he went to the store and bought everything to MAKE the chips for her!  Color me impressed... I vowed from that moment, that before the year was over that I was going to MAKE potato chips.  Aaaannnnndddd..... I procrastinated until December 29!!
YES.... they were so incredibly yummy that we ate the whole batch in one sitting.  My kids were crazy impressed to see that chips can be MADE!  If anything, I feel like that was the best reward of making potato chips.  I really love when my kids see where food comes from and how it's made.
And how potato chips are made is one of the easiest things I've ever done!  (Yes, I say that a lot, but it's true!!)  This is all it takes:

Homemade Potato Chips

2 lbs russet potatoes
Peanut or canola oil (I used both.)
Sea salt

Slice the potatoes very thin with a vegetable slicer or mandolin. Soak the potato slices in cold water. Drain, then soak again.  (This step will help eliminate some of the starch which means crispy chips!)

Place 2-3 inches of oil in large pot (one with high sides is best) to 375 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Drain the potatoes and pat them dry.  (Remember water makes oil "pop"... so dry them well!)  Place a handful of potatoes into the hot oil and fry until they are golden brown.  This takes a few minutes, so be sure to gently toss them around to ensure they cook evenly.  Remove the chips with a slotted spoon and drain. Season with sea salt or whatever other seasonings you like :)  Repeat frying with remaining potatoes.

Ok... now as awesome as the homemade potato chips were, I do have a couple of issues that I feel are important to share.  One thing that I wasn't crazy about was having a hot pot of oil on my stovetop.  In fact, that was my main reason that I kept procrastinating on making the chips.  Of course, it wasn't as bad as I had made up that it would be... BUT.... having kids that like to be actively involved in whatever I'm making in the kitchen made me a bit nervous.  In order to have them be involved in the chip making, I kept them at a distance from the oil and had them pat the potatoes dry to prepare them to be fried!  The other thing is that when I was done frying the potatoes, I was left with a pan of used oil.  I was so perplexed as to what I should do with it that I let it sit on my stovetop for a day!  Not completely sure what to do with used oil, I dumped it on my compost pile.  (Yes, I know... it was probably the wrong move.)  Any ideas?? What would you do??

That being said, I think that everyone should make homemade potato chips.  The end result is so much more rewarding than tearing a bag open.  And even though I'm not crazy about all the oil,  I would totally make potato chips again.  It's definitely something special...  potato chips are a rare treat in our house (I bought 7 bags in 2011!).  I'm hoping that making potato chips will trump buying them.  BUT...  I'd like to try making them differently.  I think my first stop will be here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 112

Well... that was fast.  2011 is gone and here we are in 2012!!   Just like last year, another gorgeous New Year's Day!!  Starting off the year right with awesome weather and going to our favorite places makes us super excited for what's to come in 2012!
I'm not overly into making resolutions, but I am big on making commitments that help create change within me.  Over the next month, I'll be updating my 2011 "More Than Resolutions" and writing down what I  hope and plan for the new year.  I am excited about all of the possibilities.  Even things that seem impossible... yes, I'm reminding myself that the word "possible" is engrained in "imPossible."  
Every day in every way is a chance to make this world a better place.  It's that time of year when I need to remind you that "YOU are the difference."  

Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it.  

20 minutes on January 1, 2011 at Access 36

Cigarette butts: 65 

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 112 days: