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: