Thursday, August 30, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 155

Our actions shape our lives.  It is impossible to be alive without making an impact on the world that surrounds us.  And, when it comes to making the world a better place, what we choose not to do can be just as important as what we choose to do.  

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

20 minutes on August 27, 2012 at Access 16
Cigarette butts: 707
Straws: 18
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 155 days:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Green Bag Lady: Beach Freebie!

Last fall, Teresa aka Green Bag Lady was kind enough to make a few of us-- including myself and Sara-- that do consistent beach clean ups some very special beach bags for our beach clean ups!  The bags are super AWESOME because they're designed with mesh bottoms that allow the sand to fall through... no longer do I bring home the beach!  ;)

... AND, now Teresa wants others to have these bags too!!  On her blog Green Bag Lady, she's giving away 3 mesh bottomed beach bags like Sara and I have plus 9 beach themed bags!

Want to win a bag?  It's easy!  

To enter: Hop on over to 
Green Bag Lady: Beach FREEBIE!! 

Don't miss out! The giveaway ends on Tuesday, August 28 at 10PM CST

Friday, August 24, 2012

Volunteering with Reverb for Jason Mraz

On August 19, my husband and I headed up to Raleigh with our new friend Alisa to volunteer with Reverb for the Jason Mraz concert.  I was super excited about volunteering because not only am I a fan of Jason's music... but I also dig his environmentality.  One of my favorite things that Mr. Mraz does is not allow bottled water on his tours-- not for himself and not for anyone on the tour.  In fact, the venue is notified in advance to not provide bottled water (in dressing rooms/catering/on stage/etc) because they come prepared with their own reusable (glass) water bottles. AWESOME.
Reverb is a non-profit that was formed to help artists tour more environmentally friendly.  They educate and engage musicians and their fans to take action toward a more sustainable future. Some of the things they do to make tour more sustainable are: B-20 in the tour buses, compostable products when reusables aren't possible, recycling, sourcing local foods while on the road, composting, ride share, Brita FilterForGood hydration stations to fill your own reusable water bottle and more...

As volunteers for Reverb, we spent a couple of hours chatting up concert goers and letting them know about the greening efforts of the tour.  We also helped raise funds for a local tree non-profit-- Trees Across Raleigh-- through the "Tree is a Four Letter Word" campaign.  And, yeah... we had a lot of fun too!
After our volunteer duties were over, we got our seats (thanks Reverb!!) and spent 2 hours listening and  dancing to Jason Mraz.  Here's a bit of the concert I found on YouTube... but like a great work of art... it just isn't the same when you're not there to see it in person..

 Then just as soon as it began it was over... and one by one and group by group... people filed out of the venue with their things in hand.  Well, not everything.  Now, I don't want to take away from the fun we had or how good the concert was... but I have to switch gears here... When I saw this "after" photo of the concert we volunteered for and attended, I knew that it was something that needed to be shared because we can't ever hope to change anything by pretending it didn't happen...
Photo: Jason Mraz Journal
Movie theater mentality is what I say when people leave their trash because they know/think/believe that someone will (or is paid to) clean up after them.  Now maybe that is the case at a movie theater or concert venue... but when I look at that photo... I can't help but think of the beach especially after a holiday weekend.  And let me keep it real...  A good amount of people think that someone is paid to clean up the beach when they leave. (... and that's not usually the case)  Here's what I think: In order to change people leaving their trash on the beach/park/roadside/etc...  the mentality of thinking it's ok to leave our stuff for someone else to clean up... needs to change.  We all need to take responsibility for our own actions/inactions.

Everything we do or don't do impacts the world we live in...

I've thought about this particular instance of "movie theater mentality" quite a bit, because since I volunteered with Reverb, I can't help but think that we as volunteers had a perfect opportunity to talk to concert goers about keeping it clean.  And really, with all of the greening efforts being implemented on this tour (and other "green" tours-- like Jack Johnson-- where I've seen the exact same mess) this is one major-- yet simple-- thing that WE can be directly involved in. So maybe you're not going to see Jason in concert (you should)... that's ok, because being a good steward of the Earth can start anywhere.

No one likes a trashy beach, park, playground, movie theater, concert venue...

If all the world is a playground, then I shall treat all the world as my backyard.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Big Strong Girl Designs

I am, by every account, a lover of good quotes.  I find that there is something s0 reassuring about connecting my thoughts and my words to something outside of myself.   For me, they often serve as reminders to the simple connections we have with others in the world...  
When my friend Kim-- a local artisan who makes handcrafted pieces from metal-- told me that she wanted to make me a personalized copper cuff and it could say whatever I wanted... my heart leapt with excitement.  But then, being that I'm indecisive (and a procrastinator), it took me months before I could decide on the words that would be set in copper.  My procrastination paid off and I'm happy that I waited to make the decision because the quote I chose is 100% me.  Not normally a jewelry person (I usually only wear my ring), I'm finding having words to live by on my wrist just feels good... (Kim, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!) 

Months ago, when Kim and I first talked about my bracelet, we discussed her designing a copper cuff that would support a local non-profit.  As we were chatting about Ocean Cure prior to our Backyard Benefit Jam, Kim mentioned one of my favorite quotes:

"Individually we are one drop... together we are an ocean" 

..and just like that the "Together We Are an Ocean for Ocean Cure" copper cuff was created.

 Kim was super kind as to donate one for our Backyard Benefit Jam raffle and is currently selling the "Together We Are an Ocean" copper cuff in her Etsy shop Big Strong Girl Designs with $10 from the sale of each bracelet being donated to Ocean Cure!! YAY!!!

Love that copper cuff and want to get your own?  Visit big strong girl designs

Want to know more about Ocean Cure?  Go here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 154

As I sat down today to update the cigarette butt tally from last night's beach clean up, my daughter took notice of the difference between the comparison that The Daily Ocean and I have been doing since March.  Since March, Sara has done 50 beach clean ups and removed 297 cigarette butts from her Santa Monica beach.  We, on the other hand, have done only 31 beach clean ups and have removed 6,620 cigarette butts from Wrightsville Beach.  My daughter had 2 reactions to that information.  First she said, "Mom, you really need to catch up!  You need to do more beach clean ups." And then she said, "Wrightsville Beach should be a smoke-free beach." (agreed)

This November, the residents of Wrightsville Beach will have the opportunity to vote on making Wrightsville Beach a smoke-free beach.  Though, Wrightsville Beach may no longer have the opportunity to be first smoke-free beach in North Carolina BECAUSE on Tuesday, Carolina Beach officials voted 4-1 in favor of a smoke-free beach ordinance!!!  My husband went to the meeting with other Cape Fear Surfrider board members and spoke out about some confusion that had been created by the town's attorney.  This is an exciting time for my area, as Carolina Beach is set to become the first smoke-free beach in North Carolina.  There is one catch though... the ordinance is pending state legislation that will allow Carolina Beach to enforce the ordinance, which should happen sometime in 2013.  Read more here.

It is not a single wave that shapes the beach, but countless waves over time.

20 minutes on August 17, 2012 at Access 36
Litter by weight: 1 lb
Cigarette butts: 121
Straws: 28 (22 from Oceanic)
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 154 days:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Backyard Benefit Jam for Ocean Cure

After going to a benefit concert back in early 2010, I came home from California excited to get involved with the local non-profit Ocean Cure.  I didn't know it then, but after volunteering with Ocean Cure for Life Rolls On I would find myself connecting and forming friendships over our common bonds-- a love and respect for the ocean.  We've watched over the past 2 years, as Ocean Cure consistently gives back to our community through charity surf camps, community events and beach/waterway cleanups.  Not only do they help people stand up (on surfboards), they also stand up for our environment... and since their work is inexplicably tied to the ocean... they stand up for the health and safety of our oceans, waves and beaches.  So on Saturday, we wanted to give back for all that Ocean Cure does for our community by throwing a Backyard Benefit Jam (aka fundraiser) for Ocean Cure.

We opened our backyard to our awesome community to have fun and raise funds for Ocean Cure to purchase such things as beach wheel chairs, adapted surfboards, and shade tents.  To do this, we had a raffle with prizes from Tidal Creek Co-opGlass DharmaCarolina PaddleboardLandshark SkateboardsSweetwater Surf ShopFreaker USAReCurrentsRe-EcoLa GemmaPrimp SalonbarMark Herbert/Art WastelandBig Strong Girl DesignsTracy Kellogg-Brodeur Photography and Bushwalla.

But like I said, we wanted to have FUN too!  So, we had our backyard set up with a 22' waterslide, a dunk tank and LIVE music by Bushwalla & Todd Carey.

Of course, keeping with my own personal commitments we made sure to create no trash by composting, recycling and using reusables.  One thing that I set out to do with this party was to reuse glass jars that I had saved.  So in lieu of disposable "red SOLO" cups, I cleaned over 100 glass jars to be used for sweet tea, homemade lemonade, beer or wine.  When the fundraiser was over, I ran the jars through my dishwasher and they are currently tucked away in a closet to be used again!

So who exactly is Ocean Cure?  Ocean Cure is a 501c3 non-profit that is dedicated to giving free surf lessons to medically fragile and at risk youth and adults.  They believe in the powerful emotional and physical healing properties of the ocean and surfing. Having been on the sidelines watching their charity surf camps and volunteering for events such as Life Rolls On: They Will Surf Again... I can tell you that Ocean Cure changes lives.
And because we want to contribute to helping them change lives, we set out to have this fundraiser.  It was an event that couldn't have been pulled off by my husband and myself alone.  A community of people came together to help make it happen and we are extremely grateful to the outpouring of support received from our community-- near and far! Thanks to all of the support we received it was a huge success... not only were we able to raise over $1500 for Ocean Cure... we had loads of fun doing it!  Yup, our first fundraiser was a huge success... we're so thankful to be part of such a giving community! 

We can't wait to do it again next year!!
Left to right: Danielle, Kevin (Ocean Cure founder), Chris (Ocean Cure founding member), Todd Carey, my husband, Bushwalla, Brandon & me :)
Special thanks to the following businesses! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 153

On August 9, my kids and I went back to where it all started at Access 43 just as we did on Our Daily Ocean: Day #1.  It's been 2 years since I walked onto the beach with a mission to help raise awareness about the cigarette litter problem on our local beach and a lot has happened and changed over these past 2 years...
With every step we take on the beach, something has always changed.  When we walked onto the beach on Thursday, we saw something we hadn't seen in the past 2 years.  The entire south end was completely roped off for the nesting beach birds!  It was really a sight to see... birds all over the sand and birds soaring above.  Plus, since there were so many birds (mainly skimmers and seagulls)... being there was a symphony of sounds.
I'm not sure I ever need reminders for why I keep doing what I do... but it's in moments like we had on Thursday that we pause... everything in the world seems perfect... just the way it was and the way it's supposed to be.  And in that moment, of hearing the birds and the waves... and feeling the sand on my feet and the salt air on my skin... I remember why I feel driven to help make the world a better place.

Over the past 2 years, I have had to remind myself that change doesn't always come easy or as fast as we want it to.  But that shouldn't come as a surprise because anything that needs repairing didn't happen overnight.  In order to do anything right (or worthwhile) it takes time, persistence and perseverance.  (nope, I won't give up)

And one thing that I know for sure, if we want to see a change happen in our world... and whatever that change may be... when we come together to make a change.... anything is possible.

20 minutes on August 9, 2012 at Access 43
Litter by weight: 1 lb 3.8 oz
Cigarette butts: 172
Straws: 5
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 153 days:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Plastic-Free: Kick the Plastic Habit

It all started about 5 years ago, when a friend of mine told me about this thing called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch."  Great Pacific what?  Plastic ocean?!?  Curiosity took over and I began googling and read my first article about plastics-- "Our Oceans Are Turning to Plastic, Are We?"  Reading that article along with seeing the countless images of animals negatively impacted by our plastic waste set me off on the beginning of a long journey to reducing my plastic waste-- day by day or sometimes more like month by month... I worked on reducing the amount of plastic that I used.  But it wasn't something I could do alone... ok, well... maybe I could... but as I started moving past simple things like not buying bottled water, I often became stumped and had to start researching.  That's when I came across Beth Terry's blog now known as My Plastic-Free Life.  Turns out Beth had read that exact same article and just like that she "woke up to plastic."
Now years later, I'm still not done reducing my plastic-waste and I'm still not done learning "why" we should all take steps to reduce the amount of plastic we buy, use, recycle and throw away.  But, as much as I've learned over the years, to be honest... I still need reminders.  You see, I'm the type of person that when I learn something, it sticks with me... BUT... while I don't forget... I do often let the details slip my mind.  Sometimes-- especially with plastics-- when I let the details slip, I find that I'm not as strong with my commitments.  Which leads me to Beth's new book: PLASTIC FREE: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.  

Before 2007, Beth was addicted to plastic (well, not knowingly anyway)... then that one day when she read "Our Oceans Are Turning to Plastic, Are We?" and saw a picture of decomposed Laysan albatross chick.... the reality of her plastic filled lifestyle and the consequences it had began to set in...
Photo Credit: Chris Jordan
First she was heartbroken and sad.  Then she got mad and wondered why no one was doing anything about this??  Knowing full and well that she couldn't personally go out into the middle of the oceans and clean up the plastic mess... she made the connection and realized there was one thing that she could do.  She could start with herself.  She remembered that her actions make a difference and personal changes really do matter.  In Plastic-Free, Beth discusses 9 reasons why our personal changes matter and here's one of my favorite reasons why:

 By letting others see our personal changes, we set an example of a different way to be.

It's true.  By going out into the world and doing what we do-- whether it's picking up litter, taking our own bags to the store, carrying a reusable water bottle, saying "no thank you" to single-use items like straws or having the courage to use our voices for change-- we share with others what's possible.  

But back to the details.  Sure we know there are problems with plastic...and when we start reusing, reducing and refusing it... others want to know why.  No, I'm not allergic to plastic.  But the reasons I choose to refuse and reduce the amount of plastic our family uses is summed up quite nicely in Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You can Too.  Of course, Beth goes into really great detail in her book Plastic-Free, but here's the gist of why we should start and/or continue efforts to reduce the amount of plastic we all use:

1. Plastic is Made from Fossil Sources
2. Plastic Contains Toxic Chemicals (cough BPA, Lead & Cadmium, Toxic Flame Retardants)
3. Plastic Manufacturing Plants Harm Workers and Pollute Communities
4. Plastic is NOT Biodegradable
5. Plastic Pollutes the Ocean, Harming Both Wildlife and Humans
6. Plastic Pollution Doesn't Just Come from "Litter Bugs"  (nope, sure doesn't)
7. Plastic Recycling Doesn't Close the Loop  (it's actually downcycling)

So what are we waiting for? Let's start a plastic-free revolution.  Let's imagine a world free of plastic pollution and create that world.  We can do it.

...and Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too by Beth Terry is the perfect tool to start your journey to a life with less plastic.  To learn more about Beth's book, the praise it has received and how to buy her book, please go here.

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time.  We are the change that we seek." 
~Barack Obama

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 152

Even though I spent all day last Saturday at Wrightsville Beach for Life Rolls On, it's been way too long since I've done a 20 minute beach clean up.  Whenever there's a long stretch between clean ups, it seems I always feel a bit like a slacker (and slightly guilty) for not doing more.  Then I give myself a reality check and remind myself of all that we have done and continue to do to raise awareness, educate and, of course, clean up.
After my kids and I cleaned up the beach for 20 minutes, we made our way to Surfberry to cool off with some froyo.  Surfberry isn't your average froyo place.  Nope!  They're locally owned by the good people of WB Surf Camp and they're doing things a bit different.  One of the most notable things that they're doing is encouraging people to help clean up the beach.

From Surfberry's Facebook page:

Did you know that cigarette butts are the most prevalent form of litter on earth? Over 4.5 trillion cigarettes are littered worldwide each year! Help our oceans and beaches! Stop by Surfberry and grab a bag- and if you fill it with cigarette butts from the beach and bring it back, we will give you a FREE grom sized shave ice!! The earth and we thank you!!

After talking to a couple of Surfberry employees about how many cigarette butts we've picked up, one of the employees handed me a stack of coupons for FREE shaved ice and told me that if I run out to let them know. (VERY RAD!!!)  Thanks Surfberry!!!

20 minutes on August 4, 2012 at Access 17
Litter by weight: 1 lb 12 oz
Cigarette butts: 227
Straws: 17
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 152 days: