Friday, May 31, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 188

When it comes to summer traditions, meeting friends and taking a picnic dinner to the beach is ours.  It's a great way to end the day.  Kids playing.  Laughter.  Catching up.  Waves. Birds.  Simple.  Relaxed. Carefree.
Just going to the beach to hang out and then randomly doing a beach clean up while we walk and chat is what 20 minute beach cleanups are all about.  In fact, this beach cleanup was spawned when my and Tracy's kids wanted us to walk down to the Lifeguard Tower.  I grabbed my bag and by the time we walked down and back... we had done a 20 minute beach cleanup.  Easy.
I have good news to share!  Two sea-turtle nests have been laid at Wrightsville Beach.  And my good friends Ginger and John found the first nest of the season!  Read more here.   I also wanted to share that as they were searching for the eggs in the nest, they kept uncovering cigarette butts and other various plastics.  The mother sea turtle created a womb in the sand... and it was littered with our mess.  Let us all encourage and challenge each other to do more.  Refuse single-use plastics.  Pick up litter when we see it.  Write companies.  What ever it is that you can do, now is the perfect time to start.
20 minutes on May 31, 2013 at Access 40
Litter by weight: 6.5 oz
Cigarette butts: 17
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 188 days:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 187

My kids whispered to me, "mom, mom... MOM.... that guy is trying to light a cigarette."  We were under Johnnie Mercer's Pier picking up litter.  There was a really nice breeze and as such the man was standing behind one of the pier pylons attempting to light his cigarette... and when he did, I took a deep breath and for the first time said, "Excuse me sir... this is a smoke-free beach."  
Speaking of smoke-free beach.  I've reached a little... err... big milestone.  This cleanup, I passed the 55 thousand cigarette butt mark.  Picking up 113 cigarette butts pushes the current tally to 55,082 cigarette butts removed from WB!  Thanks to everyone who has come out and helped do a 20 minute beach clean up!

Since beach season is in full swing, that means there's A LOT more people visiting Wrightsville Beach Contrary to what the above photo may trick you into believing, there were people everywhere on the sand and in the water on a Thursday afternoon!   A lot more visitors means that there's a lot more trash littered on the beach.  The beach needs all the help it can get.  Want to help clean up the beach?  Let's do it together!  

Connect with me via email DanielleLR55 [at] aol [dot] com or on Facebook: It Starts With Me

20 minutes on May 30, 2013 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 2 lbs 13.2 oz
Cigarette butts: 113
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 187 days:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 186

While eating dinner at Mellow Mushroom on Memorial Day, my husband asked me which access I wanted to go to do a cleanup.  I laughed and smiled to bring a bit of lightheartedness to the fact that I wanted to go to access 16.  Friends... what I'm about to share with you is important.  It's really hard to know where to start... so let me start with this:

Words and pictures will never be able to convey what we witnessed.  
 When we first got to the beach, we were immediately distracted by ocean rescue and a large crowd that were gathered by the pier.  I learned today that a boater ran into the pier with his 52' yacht.  As soon as we moved our eyes away from the scene and to the beach, we could hardly believe the mess that lay ahead of us.  To say that it looked like people dumped their trashcans on the beach wouldn't be stretching it.  There were more littered water bottles than we had ever seen... and as the tide was coming up littered plastics were washing in and out.

It was a sad sad scene.
We picked up everything that crossed our paths and went out of our way to get what we could from the incoming tide.  After only 8 minutes into our 20 minute clean up... my bag was overflowing.  I could have easily gotten overwhelmed.  It would have been SO easy to get mad and frustrated.  But I wasn't.  I told myself before we stepped onto the sand, "The trash on the beach is going to be bad.  That's why we're going."  And in the middle of staying focused on putting some effort into cleaning up a mess that wasn't ours, I realized something that made me smile and that gave me hope.
Claire found these sunglasses that brought out another side of her personality ;)

When my bag was full, I said to my family: "I haven't found many cigarette butts.  Just focus on cigarette butts and throw away the bigger stuff."  And we looked and we looked, but they really weren't there in the numbers we have seen in the past.  In 2011, when we did our Memorial Day cleanup we picked up 487.  This year? 43 cigarette butts in 20 minutes.  FORTY-THREE!!!!!!  No piles. None being uncovered by the incoming tide.  Just some stray littered butts.  Perfect?  Nope.  Better?  ABSOLUTELY!!
On instagram my friend Kate and purveyor of Landshark Skateboards captioned one of their photos with something I think is so worth sharing:

"Love the beach?  Care about marine life?  As soon as you set foot on the sand, both are your responsibility."

Let me remind everyone to not feel overwhelmed or defeated by problems that seem too big to make a difference.  Find a mantra.  Repeat it over and over again until you believe in it.  And when you waiver and second guess yourself.  Start repeating it again.  I say this:

I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  I will not let what I cannot do get in the way of what I can do.  

*I* am the difference.
 20 minutes on May 27, 2013 at Access 16
Litter by weight: 10 lbs 9.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 43
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 186 days:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 185

Welcome to Wrightsville Beach, the first smoke-free beach in North Carolina!!!   We worked hard to make it happen and we're "thumbs up" happy about it! I'd like to express my personal gratitude to everyone who took the time to write the NC legislature asking them to oppose SB703 and preserve our smoke-free outdoor spaces.  Thank YOU so very very much!!
Ok... so onto last night's record low clean up... what? wait... what's that?  Yup, I said it (again). Record low cigarette butt count.  My friend Tracy and I did a 20 minute beach clean up while our kids played. The two of us together picked up 14 cigarette butts at Access 39.

Curious about how this compares to past clean ups at Access 39?

November 24, 2010 = 166 cigarette butts
August 25, 2011 = 176 cigarette butts
June 8, 2012 = 94 cigarette butts

or how about this one from Access 38 on May 14, 2011.  Same time of year.  178 cigarette butts.

I have always believed that smoke-free beach ordinances help reduce cigarette litter... but to see it happening already... I'm thrilled!!
On another note, sea turtle nesting season is upon us again!  (yay!)  That means the WB Sea Turtle Project Volunteers will be spending their early mornings walking the beach in search of turtle tracks.  As they walk the beach, many volunteers pick up litter.  Since 2009, they have removed 2,284 bags of trash from Wrightsville Beach.  You can follow along with them on their blog WB Keep It Clean 
When Tracy found that piece of coral it made me think about how it's a lot more fun finding beautiful mementos of nature than it is to find plastics and other trash.  As my friend Ginger says: 

"A clean beach means a healthier ocean in which sea turtles and other life can swim and live and play freely."

20 minutes on May 16, 2013 at Access 39
Litter by weight: 3.7 oz
Cigarette butts: 14

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 185 days: