Sunday, August 25, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 199

Friday evening, my family and I planned to go to Wrightsville Beach and for the first time in a long time... our plans didn't get interrupted by rain!!  Blue skies and the sun was shining bright!!  So, of course, we took a picnic dinner and spent our evening surfing, swimming, snorkeling and relaxing at Wrightsville Beach!
Because we love where we live SO much... we take time while we're enjoying the beach to give a little back.  Picking up litter for 20 minutes doesn't take much time, but (as I've learned over the course of this project)... it's just enough time to make a difference.
While we not only pick up litter off the beach to help keep it clean... we also (in the case of things like beer caps) save fellow beach goers feet some potential pain.
One of my kids' favorite things to find during our beach cleanups is the little army men.  I've never bought any, but thanks to finding one every now and then... my kids have themselves a nice little collection.  And to add to their collection... a first for us.... a pirate!  Arrgh!
Oh and a reminder:  When trying to make the world a better place, don't get lost in the enormity of whatever it is that you're attempting to do...

Always make time for fun. :)

20 minutes on August 23 at Access 38
Litter by weight: 1 lb 8.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 94
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 199 days:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 198

Summer 2013 can be summed up with one word: Rain.

Sitting in my car at Wrightsville Beach Thursday late afternoon, I was feeling fed up with the rain.  All I wanted to do was to go to the beach and the rain was coming down heavy flecked with thunder and lightning.  I sat waiting patiently while my kids waited not so patiently for about an hour.... but as the saying goes: All good things come to those who wait.

The thunder and lightning finally subsided and we got our evening at the beach.
It was still sprinkling, but it was ok.  There's something kind of magical about being in the ocean and rain drops falling all around you.  Diving under the waves and coming up to little kisses of rain.  Magic.  And we had it all to ourselves.... giving me a perfect opportunity to practice surfing.  I was nervous because last time I went surfing was Winter 2011 (with my friends from Odysea Surf & Kiteboard School), but... I could still stand up!  (I need to get photographic evidence of my being able to surf ;) )
After a good while in the water,  I was ready for a little sand time.  My two youngest decided to join me as I walked Access 39 for 20 minutes.  Here are some notable pieces of litter we found:
PSST! Most stickers on fruit are plastic! 

"Open your eyes now before you get hurt." ~ Tiana, Disney's The Princess and the Frog

Things aren't always what they appear to be.  Looked like a clam, but it was just a beer cap in disguise.
 20 minutes on August 22, 2013 at Access 39
Litter by weight: 1 lb 5.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 64
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 198 days:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 197

This past Sunday, my family and I were getting around to go to Wrightsville Beach when we saw the sky change.  As dark clouds began rolling in, we made the decision to wait on going to the beach.  And I'm glad we did because the storm that rolled in brought very heavy rain, lightening and... at Wrightsville Beach... funnel clouds (umm... no thank you!!)  See photos here: Sunday, 8/11/13 Storm Pictures  Once we felt comfortable that the storm had passed, we unpaused our beach plans.
Obviously, after such a storm... the beach was fairly deserted. And as expected, signs of people who had rushed off the beach were everywhere.
But once again, what was barely there were cigarette butts.  There's only one other cleanup that I remember specifically doing after it rained: my 127th beach clean up on March 19, 2012.  Then I picked up 91 cigarette butts.

Sunday, I picked up 10.  Only ten.
Friends of Wrightsville Beach.  We are beginning to see what "better" looks like.  And although it took a lot of work to make Smoke-Free WB a reality, people are complying with the new ordinance.  I've even taken the time while at the beach to let anyone I see smoking (which has been very few!) know that WB is smoke-free.  It's a nerve wracking experience, but everyone I've talked to has been super nice (and appreciative of me letting them know).   

A recent Star-News article reports on the topic here: Wrightsville Beach sees compliance, with little fuss, on smoking ban

smiling.  I. can't. stop. smiling.

"We live in a time where we don't need more ideas... we're swimming in solutions, we just need more volunteers.  So if there's anything in this world that fires you up, lean into the discomfort and go out there and do something and make a difference.
~ Jason Mraz
20 minutes on August 11, 2013 at Access 39
Litter by weight: 2 lbs 7 oz
Cigarette butts: 10
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 197 days: 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 196

On August 9, 2010... my kids and I went to access 43 to do our very first 20 minute beach cleanup at Wrightsville Beach.  I felt such a strong pull to start this project of documenting, collecting weighing and tallying that as soon as I started... I knew that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

I said to myself: "I am going to help fix the cigarette litter problem on Wrightsville Beach."

That first clean up, we picked up 346 cigarette butts and put them in a plastic jug.
Every year on August 9, I head back to Wrightsville Beach access 43.  I love the feeling of being connected to where this all started.  As much as the beach has been reshaped over the course of this project, so have I.  Without going into the myriad of things that have happened over the past 3 years, let me just say that amazing things happen when you expand your comfort zone.

As this year is the first year of the smoke-free beach ordinance, I was super excited to do my "Anniversary Beach Cleanup".  One of the greatest things about documenting the number of cigarette butts picked up in 20 minutes since 2010 is that I have data to make comparisons.

Different year, same date (August 9), same access (Access 43).

2010: 346
2011: 378
2012: 172
2013: 47
Now one thing that I will never claim to be is a math wiz... but thanks to my googling abilities, I'm able to figure out that comparing 2010's cleanup to 2013 that's a decrease of 86%.  Or comparing more recently 2012 to 2013 (both years have part of the beach closed for shore-bird nesting), that's a 73% reduction in cigarette litter!!!!  I'm just thrilled.  Absolutely thrilled.

Once upon a time, there was a mom who believed she could make a difference.  And she did... but she didn't do it alone.

20 minutes on August 9, 2013 at Access 43
Litter by weight: 13.1 oz
Cigarette butts: 47
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 196 beach cleanups:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 195

On Wednesday, while my two youngest were finishing up with camp, my oldest son and I did a beach clean up together at... I mean... under Johnnie Mercer's Pier.
Normally, I pick an access and walk as much of the access as we can in 20 minutes.  But when we got to the beach at 3pm, the sun was so bright for my non-sunglass wearing son that he asked if we could stay under the pier in the shade.  And for the most part we did.  We only ventured out from the cover of shade to pick up a plastic bag and a few other items that caught our eyes within 5 feet of the pier.  
But even though we limited where we picked up litter for 20 minutes... there was no shortage.  Just as the shade of the pier offered us relief from the harsh afternoon sun... so many other people take refuge there throughout the day shading themselves and their children from the sun in between playing in the waves.  
Plastic juice box straw wrappers were a sure sign that children had been under the pier... and we found lots and lots of those little wrappers.   But the little plastic wrappers weren't the only things we were finding under Johnnie Mercer's Pier.   Some notable items we picked up were 13 plastic straws, 15 caps, an unused still wrapped condom and two hair extensions!  We also-- surprisingly-- found 104 littered cigarette butts under the pier.  Hmm...

20 minutes on August 7, 2013 under Johnnie Mercer's Pier
Litter by weight: 1 lb 3 oz
Cigarette butts: 104
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 195 days:

Monday, August 5, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 194

This time of year, the forecast is almost always 30% chance of rain.  Based on past experiences with the "30% chance of rain forecast" that usually means that it's not going to rain.  70% sunny, right?  Well, as we were driving to the beach Sunday afternoon the sky got super dark and... it rained.  A LOT and HEAVY. Hesitantly optimistic the rain would stay clear of the south end of Wrightsville Beach, we made our way to the sand... and guess what?!  No rain!  Not one drop!

But that doesn't mean we didn't get wet!  We played in the waves and at one point my husband took his surfboard out past the break and we all used it as our "base" as our kids snorkeled exploring the ocean floor.  When we were ready for a break, my kids and I took a walk down the beach.
Normally when we go to the beach, I have with me a designated beach cleanup bag.  But as we didn't take my car, I forgot and had to improvise and use a cloth bag that I brought our reusable water bottles in.  Speaking of reusable water bottles, in the 194 beach cleanups I've done... I've only ever found ONE reusable water bottle.  (a plastic camelback water bottle).  While I can't even begin to remember how many single-use plastic bottles, I've picked up in 194 clean ups... the awesome volunteers of WB Keep It Clean have picked up 197 this summer alone.
The average American consumes an average of 167 single-use bottles of water each year.  Add that to the other average Americans who do the same and it's somewhere in the 50 billion range.  OH MY PLASTIC!!  I am proud to say that our family is not contributing to that statistic.  I can't help but think that if that one person who left their single-use plastic water bottle on the beach had brought a reusable water bottle instead.  For starters, that plastic bottle wouldn't have been littered.  But besides that something else would have also happened-- others would have seen and learned.  (or felt a sense of reusable water bottle camaraderie ;) )  Everything we do matters.

20 minutes on August 4, 2013 at Access 40
Litter by weight: 10.2 oz
Cigarette butts: 94
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 194 days: