Thursday, November 29, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 170

As I prepare to do some traveling, my days are filled and getting to the beach before sunset to do a clean up has proven difficult.   Normally, I'd be a little disappointed... but ever since I committed to doing 365 non-consecutive beach clean ups and the smoking ban passed... I don't feel any kind of pressure.  There's plenty of time to do what I want to do.... 
My friend Sara, who inspired me to start these beach clean ups, is nearing the end of her 365 non-consecutive beach clean ups.  She's been collecting, weighing and documenting beach trash on her blog The Daily Ocean for the past 361 non-consecutive days and on Saturday, December 8 she'll do her 365th.  For her last 10 clean ups, she's giving away photos she's taken on during her clean ups.  "Like" The Daily Ocean on Facebook and learn how to enter yourself into winning one of her beautiful photos.
Another thing that Sara is doing for her last 10 clean ups is offering some advice, suggestions and solutions to how WE can help the ocean....

10. Take it off the sand and take it out of your life.
9. Use reusable grocery bags
8. Get a group together and go clean the beach.
7. Buy less food in plastic packaging
6. Pick a place and make it yours.  (.... mine is Wrightsville Beach)
5.  Challenge yourself to be bolder with your talents and creativity for the ocean.
4. Feel overwhelmed with the pollution in the ocean?  Let it fuel you to action!

Whatever it is that you can do... do it.  Trust me when I say that it all matters.  When at the beach to do my most recent clean up, the beach seemed so clean that I almost decided not to do a clean up.  ...and just as I had that thought, I looked down and found a piece of sea glass.  I reminded myself that every little bit matters and although this was one of my smallest cleanups, it still matters.  Everything we do matters. :)

20 minutes on November 27, 2012 at Access 28
Cigarette butts: 37
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 170 days:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 169

Walking onto the beach on Monday afternoon, I felt a sense of pride wash over me.  I began thinking about the first time I did a The Daily Ocean beach clean up in Santa Monica with Sara and the immediate tugging I felt to make a difference at Wrightsville Beach.

2 years 3 months ago, I stepped onto Wrightsville Beach as just a mom with a plan... with a goal to help make Wrightsville Beach the first smoke-free beach in North Carolina.  I did my first 20 minute beach clean up at Wrightsville Beach picking up 346 cigarette butts.  Since then,  I've picked up more cigarette butts than I ever imagined possible... and I connected to a community of people who were just as passionate about helping WB become smoke-free.  On November 6, my goal became a reality when 65.3% of votes cast by WB residents were FOR a smoke-free beach.  I'm so proud and grateful to have been able to contribute my voice to the Smoke-Free WB community movement!
"One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world."   ~ Barack Obama

Just think about the possibilities for changing the world we live in for the better... let's get together.  Inspire each other, motivate each other to use our talents, actions and our voices together for a common cause.

20 minutes on November 12, 2012 at Access 43
Cigarette butts: 150

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 169 days: 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

WE Did It! Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach

The rain poured down on a bitterly cold Election Day.  I sat in my car warming up from the brief time that I spent outside in the cold and rain helping with electioneering at Wrightsville Beach.
It had been a long process and so many people put immense amounts of time and energy to get to this point.  So I sat there... a ball of nervous energy was building in me over the possibility of both outcomes.  Excited for the possibilities, yet anxious and scared all at the same time....  As the polls closed, several people on our Smoke-Free WB team (including my husband) went into the Wrightsville Beach polling place as the votes were tallied.  I sat in my car waiting in the unknown.  Then I couldn't take waiting anymore and text my husband with a "????!!!"... to which he replied: We won.

I let out a loud scream of joy.  All of the energy that was in me could no longer be contained and expressed itself with happy dances and jumping in the seat of my car.  I called my friend Ginger to tell her the news, to which I heard her make the same loud scream of joy.  As I write about this all now, I can still feel what it felt like to say those words "we won!  we did it!!"  I think I might cry.  Yes, I got on my phone... sent texts, made phone calls....  I wanted to shout it to the world...
With 65.3% of votes cast by WB residents on Tuesday FOR the referendum, WB residents have officially made Wrightsville Beach the first smoke-free beach in North Carolina.  That's historic stuff and I'm proud to be part of the amazing group that formed to help make it a reality.  There were so many people involved and this was a community effort that's been going on for nearly 3 years.  But with every effort there's a core group that comes together to push it forward and get the community excited and involved in creating a movement.  Thanks to determined individuals coming together, this effort gained some major momentum this year and I'd like to thank those who sat around a table at Mellow Mushroom one January evening and came up with a plan.  ...And when all hope had seemed to be lost after a 3-2 vote against a smoke-free beach in March, we got back up from being kicked down and stayed committed to the cause.

As a mom who just wanted to help make a difference, I'm forever grateful for the opportunity to be involved and to have become friends with some awesome awesome change makers.

I'd like to extend my personal gratitude to:

Tim Taylor for pushing this from the very beginning and sticking it out through the difficult times to see this through all the way to the end.

Aaron Richardet (my husband) for recognizing my passion for this effort and diving in head first to help.  Not only has he done beach cleanups with me, when we needed a leader he stepped up and through his leadership we were all able to contribute our strengths to this effort.  He's done so much more than I can write here spending countless hours researching, planning and putting those things into action.

Ginger Taylor for being a driving force of encouragement and motivation.  Amongst the many things she did, her decision to research and contact smoke-free beach towns was crucial to this effort.

Cape Fear Surfrider for providing the support needed to make this a possibility.  All signage and mailers throughout this effort were made possible through funding from CFSF.

Sara Bayles for inspiring me to take action.  Without her, my beach cleanups would have never happened.  Our cigarette litter comparisons on our two beaches were a vital part in creating the much needed understanding that smoke-free beaches really do help reduce cigarette litter.

Mayor David Cignotti & Alderman Bill Sisson for being true leaders in our community. AWESOME elected officials.  Believing in this effort whole-heartedly and listening to the will of the people is what sets them apart from the rest.

Wrightsville Beach residents for understanding the facts and getting to the polls!  Thank you all for voting FOR the referendum to help make Wrightsville Beach a cleaner more family friendly beach!

More thanks to: Al Meadowcroft, Ethan Crouch, John Marcucci, Adam Shay, Julie Collins, Tracy Carr, Kevin Murphy & Danielle Whelen, Susan Miller, Bonnie Monteleone, Carlos Bryson & family, The Roylance Family, Jason Andre, Neil Briggi, Sean Ahlum, Bobby Brandon, Jim Mincher, The Bourgeois Family, Ocean Cure, Lighthouse Beer & Wine, Sweetwater Surf Shop, Blockade Runner, South Beach Grill, King Neptune and every single person that has shown their support for this effort!!

Here's to Wrightsville Beach being the first smoke-free beach in NC!!!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Daily Ocean: Day 168

Tomorrow.  Election day.  A day I've been waiting for since April... well, probably for different reasons than most.  I have personally already voted... casting my ballot for the environment... choosing candidates that will stand up against big polluters and stand up FOR clean air, water and protecting our natural environment.
Over the weekend, there were TWO different beach clean ups at Wrightsville Beach.  Both cleanups started at Johnnie Mercer's Pier and one focused specifically on cigarette butts. Normally, I would never go to an access that had just been cleaned... but today, I wanted to see what would happen.  I wondered if the beach would be clean... I wondered how many cigarette butts I would find....

When I walked onto the beach, I picked up a quick 8 cigarette butts... then I kept seeing more.  I then questioned whether or not many people showed up to do the cleanups over the weekend.  I walked casually... picking up... and then my timer went off.  225 cigarette butts.
I then got on the phone with my friend Ginger to find out about those two weekend beach clean ups... and couldn't believe what she told me.  Volunteers with the beach clean up that was focusing on cigarette butts picked up 10 lbs of butts off of Wrightsville Beach.
Photo credit: Great American Butt Clean

AND... volunteers with the other beach clean up organized by a high school student picked up 1,641 cigarette butts!!  Both of  those cleanups were on Saturday and today (Monday) I picked up 225 cigarette butts at the exact same location.  Problem?
Photo credit: Ginger Taylor
So why have I been waiting for tomorrow?  On November 6, Wrightsville Beach voters will vote on a referendum to ban smoking on the beach strand.  I'm going to be electioneering at Wrightsville Beach FOR a smoke-free beach!  If you're a WB resident, tell your family, friends and neighbors to get out to the polls!  Vote FOR our environment... Vote FOR a clean beach... Vote FOR clean air... Vote FOR the referendum!!

20 minutes on November 5, 2012 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 6.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 225

Beach toys?  

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 168 days:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing.  It's one of those crazy versatile salad dressings... it's pretty much good on everything.  French fries, wraps, sandwiches, crudités... you name it.  As good as it is... store bought versions are lackluster, often chemical tasting and filled with funky ingredients that no one should be eating.  Over the past couple of years, I've been making the majority of my salad dressings and have learned that they are one of the easiest and fastest things to whip up!  So quick and easy!!  AND as usual, homemade tastes SO much better than any version we could ever buy in a store!

After sharing the above photo of my homemade ranch dressing on Instagram with the tagline "Hidden Valley ain't got nothin' on my #homemade ranch"... my friends immediately starting asking for the recipe to my homemade organic ranch dressing! :) So friends... this one's for you!!

Homemade Ranch Dressing*

1/2 cup mayonnaise 
1/4- 1/2 cup milk, whatever you have on hand-- whole, buttermilk, almond, soy
1/2 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1 small shallot minced (if you don't have shallot, substitute 1 TBSP red onion)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh herbs, my preference is cilantro (others: parsley, tarragon, dill, or chives)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice (if you don't have lemon juice, substitute white vinegar)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper

Put all ingredients into medium size jar and shake until smooth and combined.  Store refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Don't like to chop?  You can alternatively throw all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. If you don't want your ranch to have a green tint, add the fresh herbs after processing.

*All ingredients are organic