On Tuesday, while I cleaned up Access 16, my kids dug a giant hole in the sand. During their digging they found what they referred to as a "golden cigarette butt." *sigh*
I, on the other hand, happened to mistake partly buried bird poo for a cigarette butt. GAG! Yes, I was immediately grossed out, but then I thought about the cigarette butts and how toxic they are... and suddenly, I wasn't so grossed out. Good news: it took me 121 days to mistake a bird turd for a cigarette butt. Of course, I took a picture...
As you may already know, Wrightsville Beach will be holding a public hearing on March 8 about banning smoking on the beach strand. On March 3, I'm going to be speaking at an event hosted by UNCW Surfrider in order to help educate about the importance of the proposed smoking ban. If you'd like to come to the "Leave Only Footprints" event, please check out the Facebook event and RSVP here. (Thanks!)
On Thursday, my kids and I met our friend Ginger at Wrightsville Beach access 36. Access 36 is our family's adopted beach access and now the place where we picked up the 40,000th cigarette butt off of Wrightsville Beach.
Doing only 20 minute beach clean ups... it's only taken 120 days to go over 40,000. I'm committed to seeing this through... what will happen when it's 240 days?? ... no doubt that number will double. UNLESS... (in the words of the Lorax)... someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
We need to show that the public -- locals and tourists-- is in favor of a ban on smoking on Wrightsville Beach. Click here to send a letter today!
For 119 non-consecutive days, we have taken 20 minutes and done a beach clean up at Wrightsville Beach. The beach clean ups have been great learning experiences for us and have given us an opportunity to teach our kids without necessarily "teaching." Besides some of the obvious things they learn through doing the beach clean ups, they've also become aware of global problems... AND... understand that we can begin to solve global problems by acting locally.
Nearly 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered every year. In the 119 beach clean ups that we've done at Wrightsville Beach, we have removed nearly 40,000 cigarette butts from the beach sand. Here's the problem: Not only are those littered butts a blight to such a beautiful place... they're also toxic. We're trying to help make this problem better.... won't you join us? If you're local, please mark your calendars for March 8 @ 5:45. We'd love for you ALL to come help us encourage the Town of Wrightsville Beach to become the first smoke-free beach in North Carolina.
As you all may know by now, I am very committed to helping clean up Wrightsville Beach. Right now, my focus is helping Wrightsville Beach become the FIRST smoke-free beach in NC. One may think that based on the number of cigarette butts we've picked up in 118 days (39,454)... that Wrightsville Beach going smoke-free would be a no-brainer. But (unfortunately) it's not. There are some who believe there isn't a problem. However, I beg to differ.
As Wrightsville Beach Mayor Cignotti, said in a recent interview "...if you're not going to dispose of your cigarette butt properly with a disposal container right next to you, what are you going to do on the beach? And I think we all know what happens on the beach."
On Friday, we did our 21st twenty minute beach clean up at Access 16. In fact, Access 16 is one of our most visited accesses. In December of 2010, my Brita FilterForGood Film was filmed there. After the film was screened at the Brita event at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and then subsequently aired on the Sundance Channel for 5 months... many people have asked me what happened after the town hall meeting?? (... yeah... the after is still happening.)
In the film, I say.. "What kind of difference can we make together versus being one person?" On March 8th, I hope that I can say, "Just look at the difference we made together. Together-- WE-- made this a reality."
Well... let's just get this out there. Cigarette litter is a huge problem at Wrightsville Beach. Over the past year and a half, I have done (with my family and friends) 117 twenty-minute beach cleanups. The clean ups have spanned every season from the hottest to the coldest days on Wrightsville Beach. I've burned my feet on the hot sand and been chilled to the bone by the cold winter winds. I've picked up beer bottles, straws, caps, cans, toys, towels, underwear, condoms, plastic bags, diapers, tampons... some things come and go... some more than others. BUT... as I'm sure you already know... there's one littered item that has stayed consistent throughout every season. Cigarette butts. No matter the time of year, they're always #1.
In my garage sits 39,062 reasons why Wrightsville Beach needs to go smoke-free. 39,062 moments when people made the conscious decision to flick, stub out, or leave their cigarette butts on Wrightsville Beach... 39,062 cigarette butts and you and I both know that there's no way we've even come close to getting them all. They blend in... and they get buried in the sand...
As a mother of three young children, it's quite often that my kids dig cigarette butts up while building their sand castles (yes, this happened just yesterday)... and that's just wrong. The cigarette filters are filled with toxins that can leach into our environment... and here our children are playing in sand that is littered with cigarette butts. There is no reason that any of our children should be playing in a giant ashtray. I support Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach because all of our children deserve a clean and healthy beach to play at. I'm asking for the support of everyone to help make Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach a reality.
Big thanks to my AWESOME friend Ginger for meeting us out at Wrightsville Beach... AND... super high 5 hug thanks to all of my family, friends and readers like you who have shared their support for Smoke-Free WB! I'm so grateful for this community!! :)
Do you ever think that you're just a blip on the map and that no one is really paying any attention?? I do. I wonder if people are really "reading" the things I say or if the things I say even matter. These are usually fleeting moments, but I have them. However, based on some unexpected awesomazing things that happened this week... I think that I need to officially stop having those random thoughts. Yup, I'm throwing doubt out the window and believing in the difference I can make!!!
So... what sort of awesomazing things have been happening you ask?? First things first: The Surfrider Action Alert for Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach went live. YAY!!! (If you haven't added your name, please do.) Then on Sunday morning, I woke to read an "OMG... I want to give him a high 5!" blogpost by Tim Silverwood. Tim was at his local beach when he saw a man flick his cigarette to the ground... what happened was soooo freaking RAD... that I have to tell you to pause here and go read "Teaching an old dog new tricks..." Now... I have to share that it turns out the first thing Tim thinks of when he sees butts on the beaches is..... moi! (... of course, I realize this is not a very attractive thing to be known for, but... hey! what can I say? I'm that girl.) If you're not familiar with Tim, he's an environmental activist and co-founder of Take 3 in Australia. He's super passionate about helping clean up our world and coming together as a global community to do it!!
The next bit of awesomeness, comes from here in my own local community. After sending out the action alert to my friends and family encouraging them to add their names, I received an email from Kim that was full of so much support and encouragement that it made my heart run over. I then shared with Kim something that not everyone knows: this project hasn't been without harsh criticisms... and that over the past year and a half, I've dealt with a fair share of negativity that has often taken the wind out of my sails. Not long after I shared all of this with her, she wrote this:
....so i say to YOU....whoever you are out there making a difference......whatever you believe in......MAKE NOISE....make a difference....keep trying....don't stop believing.....keep up the good work....and don't listen to negative people trying to stop you or shut you up. get out there and fight for what you believe in, and in the process...SPREAD LOVE. spread hope and your message...oh, and give yourself a big hug for being brave.
yes! Yes! YES!!! I just LOVE that!!! ... and it's so what I've always needed to hear... it's what we ALL need to hear.
Lunch. It's never really been my thing. Of course, I love eating... but when it comes to making something for lunch... I'm always left stumped. I don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but I certainly don't want to eat a sandwich (boring).
So being the ultimate procrastinator that I am... I flung myself into the unknown when on Tuesday, I barely had anything in my house to eat for lunch. <--- this always seems to happen to me! Thankfully, I always keep a pantry stocked with jars of bulk foods (think grains, pastas, and beans) that come in so handy for last minute meals! I opened up my cabinets and saw the jar of quinoa (that's Keen-wa) and decided that's where I'd start. Grabbed a cookbook that my friend gave me a couple of years ago and found a recipe that would work with the staples that I had in my house. AND... once again... being forced to get creative was super exciting and oh my so freaking delicious!!!
Now... this post wasn't a planned post. I have this addiction to Instagram and taking pictures of my food. Turns out this looks just as yummy as it tasted! So... to all my friends-- (especially) Antonia, Susan, Ryan and Tracy-- that drooled over my Instagram photo of my lunch on Tuesday... this one's for you!!
Southwest Quinoa & Potato Croquettes
(adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)
* Bought in bulk with my own containers.
1 cup quinoa*
1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups water or veg stock
1 small onion, diced
2 TBSP veg oil*
2 tsp paprika*
1 tsp ground coriander*
1 tsp ground cumin*
1/2 tsp dried oregano*
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
1 cup finely chopped lacinato kale (optional)
1/3 cup cheese** or mashed tofu
Sea salt, to taste
1 cup bread crumbs
Rinse quinoa thoroughly. In a medium pan, bring water to a boil; add quinoa and potato. Lower heat, cover pan and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed for 12-15 minutes. When finished smash the potatoes with the back of a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat the oil in a small skillet and sauté the onion for about 2 minutes. Then add the spices and oregano. Once the onion has softened, add the garlic and cook for about a minute more. Add this mixture to the quinoa-potato mixture along with parsley, kale and cheese. Check for seasonings and add salt if needed. Add egg and mix well. IMPORTANT: If the mixture is too hot, wait to add the egg... otherwise you will have scrambled eggs in your croquettes!!
Divide the mixture into the portion size that you prefer. I made 5 fairly large croquettes. Shape each portion into an oval and press gently into the bread crumbs. But, hey... if it's easier for you to shape these into a burger-like patty... go for it!
To cook the croquettes, generously oil a large skillet (or grill pan) set over medium to medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmery, add the croquettes and cook on both sides until they are nicely browned. If you feel they are getting too dark too fast, just adjust heat as necessary so they don't burn. :)
Serve with salsa... or whatever yumminess you have on hand.
TIP: You can use leftover quinoa to make this, just steam the potato until tender.
Variations: A sweet potato in place of the russet potato would be AWESOME! Also, if you like it spicy the addition of some minced jalapeño would be nice. AND, I wouldn't let it end there. If you're good with spices, this could easily be turned into many different variations just by changing the spices up!!
OK... it's lunchtime and I have no idea what I'm going to eat today... off to get creative! ;)
P.S. If you don't know anything about quinoa, it's considered a SUPER FOOD!! Check it out on Mother Nature Network.
**Cheese-- I buy a whole wheel of cheese. I then shred it or cube it and store it in glass jars in my freezer.