Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 181

This morning, I met Ann aka Beach Chair Scientist with her husband and daughter at Johnnie Mercer's Pier.  It was 46˚ and there was a brisk breeze... but the sky was a beautiful blue and the best part was that we had the beach to ourselves!
Since the weather isn't really reflecting the spring season yet... brrrr.... the beach still isn't getting a lot of beach goers (yet).  So at first glance, the beach didn't really seem to have much litter at all.  Little bits here and there, but nothing really noticeable... that is... until we really started looking.
As always, the majority of everything we found was plastic.  In fact, out of the over 2 and a half pounds of litter we picked up, nearly all of it went into the trash and only 2 things went into my recycle bin-- a glass bottle and a plastic water bottle.  It's important for me to say: If there's something you want to do to make a difference in our world, I would like to suggest taking the time to pay attention to the products you buy.  Make a conscious decision to try something different.  Rethink and refuse plastics.... 
The truth of the matter is, no matter who we are or where we live we are connected to each other and we are inexplicably connected to the ocean.  The ocean may be this vast expanse... and like outer space... it's really another world that deserves exploration.  The more we learn about the ocean and how we impact it, the more we will take steps to protect it... starting with ourselves.  Beach Chair Scientist has a fantastic blog on all things ocean from facts about sea potatoes to watersheds to inspiring people who making a difference for our oceans. 

20 minutes on March 26, 2013 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 2 lbs 6.7 oz
Cigarette butts: 169
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 181 days:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 180

Well... it's been another long stretch between clean ups... again.  On some level, I used to feel guilty for not doing a beach cleanup at least once a week.  But as I'm committed to doing 365 non-consecutive beach cleanups at Wrightsville Beach... I know that sometimes long stretches between cleanups are going to happen... and it's ok.
I also know that sometimes I need a little motivation to get me back on the beach.  And there's no better motivation than sharing what I do with others.  On Monday, Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life joined me at the south end of Wrightsville Beach for a 20 minute beach clean up before our Living Plastic-Free Presentation at UNCW!  
Beth is a fantastic example of what one person can do to be a positive force for change.  She's living a life with less a lot less plastic to show what is possible.... and I'm continually inspired by her. Let me get this out there: I love Beth because she leads by example, is super encouraging and never judges.  Yup, she's my plastic-free hero that helps motivate me to do more!
During our 20 minutes, Beth and I stepped on sand spurs, picked up mostly plastics and chatted with the WB Park Ranger.  We got to talking about Kehoe Beach (in Northern California) and the amount of plastics that wash in makes it impossible to truly "clean" the beach. If you're unfamiliar with Kehoe Beach, it's worth watching this video:

Anytime I am reminded of beaches where plastics are washing in from other places... I am also reminded that Wrightsville Beach is not suffering that same fate (yet).  What we find at Wrightsville Beach is local.  What's great about that is that WE can fix that locally.  Two things I do to help are: change my personal shopping habits and beach cleanups.


Solutions to global problems start at the local level.  

20 minutes on March 11, 2013 at Access 43
Litter by weight: 10.7 oz
Cigarette butts: 180
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 180 days:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Berry Breakfast Bowl

The first time I stayed with my friend Sara in Santa Monica, we went to breakfast at Novel CafĂ© and I had the best breakfast ever-- an Acai Bowl.  It's a so-thick-you-eat-it-with-a-spoon smoothie concoction topped with granola, bananas, strawberries and chocolate chips that makes me close my eyes and savor every bite.  It's nothing short of amazing and since my visit in 2010, it's one of the things that I look forward to (ok, I dream about the stuff) when I visit my friends in Santa Monica.

I have often thought about making an Acai Bowl at home, but always decide not to because acai comes prepuréed and frozen in individual plastic packs. (bummer) BUT... this morning I decided that I was just going to make a super thick smoothie with the berries I have in my freezer* and eat it like my beloved Acai Bowl...

Eyes closed, smile... Best. Breakfast. Ever.  No joke, it was so yummy that I could eat it every single day of my life.  (this is not an exaggeration)

Berry Breakfast Bowl

1 banana
2 TBSP- 1/4 c almonds
handful (about 1/4 c) frozen strawberries*
handful (about 1/4 c) frozen blueberries*
handful (about 1/4 c) frozen blackberries*
1/4 - 1/2 cup apple juice (use less and add as needed to blend)
Ice cubes (optional, add to thicken)

Put all ingredients into a high speed blender (such as Vitamix).  Blend until completely combined.  Pour (err.. scrape) into a wide bowl or deep plate.  I ate mine topped with granola, sliced banana, hemp seeds, chia seeds and chocolate chips.  One serving.

*Plastic-free frozen berries? Yes.  I picked the blackberries last summer, bought the blueberries from the farmers market last summer.  I froze both the blackberries and blueberries on sheet pans and store in glass jars in my freezer.  And Tidal Creek Coop now carries bulk frozen strawberries, raspberries and blueberries

Monday, March 4, 2013

Plastic-Free Presentations in Greensboro & Wilmington, NC

For the past several years, I have been striving to reduce the amount of plastic that my family uses, recycles and throws away.  It's something that I was motivated to do after reading the article "Our Oceans are Turning Into Plastic... Are We?".  And then once I began doing consistent beach clean ups and documenting the (mostly plastic) litter I found on my local beach, my commitment to eliminating plastics strengthened even more.  I've been sharing bits of what I do to reduce our plastic usage and this week, I will be sharing my story and personal tips to using less plastic at two different presentations-- Greensboro & Wilmington, NC-- with author Beth Terry and plastic researcher Bonnie Monteleone!
About the presentations:

Author Beth Terry will share her journey from self-confessed plastic addict to empowered plastic-free activist and explain why we can't just recycle our way out of this mess.  She'll be joined by Wilmington mom Danielle Richardet, whose own quest to live a more plastic-free life led her to become involved in a successful campaign to keep cigarette butts off her local beach.  Danielle will tell her story and share tips on ways to get kids involved in reducing plastic use.  Special guest Bonnie Monteleone will briefly share her findings and experiences from traveling nearly 10,000 nm collecting over 200 ocean surface samples looking for plastics in four oceans.  With scientists and activists, her research looks at plastics floating in some of the most remote regions in the world and why it matters.  Beth Terry's book, Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too will be available for purchase and signing at the end of the event.

Ready to learn what one person can do to be part of the solution?  Join us!

Also, the opening reception for Bonnie's art exhibit What Goes Around, Comes Around is on March 8 from 7-8 at Guilford College in Greensboro.  I saw Bonnie's exhibit back in 2011, and was completely in awe of what she created.  Read more here.