Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 213

When I came across this piece of plastic at Wrightsville Beach, I thought it was just a stray piece of plastic.  Then I went to grab it and found that I couldn't pull it without it tearing.
So my kids and I started digging.  As we dug, we learned that we were digging out a "Food Lion" plastic bag that someone filled with sand and buried.  (Unfortunately, I don't have more photos because each time we thought we had removed enough sand to pull the bag the bag it would tear.  The last thing I wanted was for shreds of a plastic bag to blow away.)  Thankfully after digging around the bag enough we were able to get the whole thing!
Did you know that approximately 380 billion single-use plastic bags are used in the US every year?  That's more than 1,200 bags per US resident, per year.  Even if 99% were recycled, that'd still leave 3,800,000,000 plastic bags littered or in a landfill EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  But we're not even close to a 99% recycling rate with plastic bags.  The recycling rate for plastic bags is around 1 to 3%.

Not even close.
 There are some things that are easy to live without and plastic bags are definitely one of them...  do your part and refuse single-use plastic bags by bringing your own or going without.

P.S... If you're in Greensboro, NC, my friend Teresa aka Green Bag Lady will be handing out fabric bags Friday and Saturday!  More info here-- Green Bag Lady: Off to North Carolina

20 minutes on October 27, 2013 at Access 20
Litter by weight: 10.9 oz
Cigarette butts: 36
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 213 days: 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 212

Lately whenever I do beach cleanups near the one of the two piers at Wrightsville Beach, I can't help but imagine the "No Surfing Signs" with the words "No Smoking" instead.  ;)
Since I did this beach clean up at our adopted beach access 36, I took the time to walk under Crystal/Oceanic Pier.  I was happy to not find any littered straws... however, I was extremely disappointed to see that Oceanic has one of their pier dining chairs under the pier and around it were more cigarette butts than I cared to count (or pick up).
Since Wrightsville Beach has a smoke-free beach ordinance... I'm surprised and a bit irritated at what appeared to be an Oceanic restaurant employee smoke-break area on the beach. ... which means that two Wrightsville Beach ordinances are being ignored: no smoking and no littering on Wrightsville Beach.
A friend of mine once said, "So here's the deal... if you want good karma... learn to take care of yourself and your daily needs without making other people work harder than they have to.  When you leave a place you have rested, clean up your space and leave no trace.  And be sure to show gratitude by giving back what was never yours to begin with."

Love where you live.  Love where you travel.  Love wherever you are... 
and take care of what you love.

20 minutes on October 22, 2013 at Access 36
Litter by weight: 2 lbs 6.2 oz
Cigarette butts: 62

 Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 212 days:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 211

On Monday morning, we accepted a break from our normal routine by going out for hot chocolate (in a reusable ceramic mug, of course!), checking some books out from the library and doing a beach clean up.  It was a good morning...

Since this was a break from our norm, I took the suggestion of my friend Kim and did my beach cleanup between accesses 19 & 18 (Oxford and Henderson Streets).  You see, Kim had text me a week before telling me how bad it always is at Henderson St.... and since my beach cleanups have been on the cleaner side lately... I wanted to see if it really was worse there.
 We walked in at access 19 (Oxford St.) and to be honest... the beach wasn't that bad.  BUT... as we walked north to Henderson St. (access 18), the amount of litter began to increase.
 I found bottle caps posing as seashells.

 Plastic fragments trying to pose as broken shells.  Some are easier to spot.... blue is a dead giveaway for plastic.
We also found lots of plastic straws-- 10 to be exact-- which seems to be a high amount for this time of
AND... we picked up more cigarette butts than I wanted to find.  161
 So... this clean up wasn't horrible.  I didn't leave the beach wondering how people could be so disrespectful.  But, nonetheless, I'm curious.  There was definitely an increase in the amount of litter we found as we approached Henderson St.  ... I'm feeling like I need to do more cleanups at these accesses and talk to the good people of the Henderson Street League for the Environment and Responsible Government and the team of Wrightsville Beach View.  Have any insight?  Feed my curiosity!

20 minutes on October 21, 2013 at Access 19
Litter by weight: 14.4 oz
Cigarette butts: 161

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 211 days:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 210

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.  But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.
~ Mother Teresa

Everything we do matters.  

It's never too late to make a difference.

20 minutes on October 18, 2013 at Access 39
Litter by weight: 1 lb 11 oz
Cigarette butts: 127
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 210 days:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 209

As the weather and the water temperatures are getting cooler, how we spend our time at Wrightsville Beach is starting to change.  Normally my kids are in the water, but Thursday marked the shift when our time is spent primarily building sandcastles, exploring and walking the beach strand. 

 Our favorite place to explore is on the far southend of Wrightsville Beach from Access 44 to 43.  We walk the paths winding through the dunes...grasses, bugs (lots of the kind that jump!), sand spurs, rabbits, flowers... it's a great place to see where life on the beach lives.
It's also where (because of water sometimes flowing through) the wrack no longer forms a line... instead it forms a carpet.  As you walk through the dunes... some low lying areas will be completely blanketed.  The organic wrack material is the foundation for new dunes to form.  But the foundation is tainted with our trash.  The top of the "organic carpet" is studded with various plastics-- cigarette butts, styrofoam, bottle caps, straws, etc.  But the surface is usually only a fraction of what lies beneath.  As many times as I've gone through the wrack... I'm always torn with the fact that nature put the wrack the way it is for a reason... I truly hate to disturb it.  BUT... I can't stand the thought of trash being in the foundation of our beach.  
Did you know that those plastic pieces I'm holding comes from a mesh bag filled with beach toys?  Have no idea what I'm talking about? Check out an example here.  To be honest, besides the plastic mesh bag and the plastic pieces holding it all together... the beach toys are cheap junk.  The handles of the shovels break off, sand castle molds crack and the sifters break.  Single-use beach toys.  BUT... did you know there's another option?  

In March, I met Valerie of zoë b organic and learned about her "fantastic anti-plastic beach toys".  A few notable things that I love about the zoë b beach toys is that they're:  Made in the USA, certified to biodegrade in ocean water, durable and have a smart design (everything fits in the bucket and a sifting lid keeps it all together!).  Interested?  Learn more here: Faq Zoë b biodegradable toys 

20 minutes on October 17, 2013 at Access 44
Litter by weight: 11.5 oz
Cigarette butts: 35
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 209 days:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 208

The past couple of weeks, I have been rocking out beach cleanups and moving forward with my goal to complete this beach cleanup project late next summer.  BUT... With rain and having a rib out (OUCH!) last week, I didn't make it to the beach once!  
So I'm working on getting back into the swing of things... and on Sunday, my husband and I did our first cleanup together in a very long time!  Turns out that even after him taking a long break in picking up litter on the beach... he still has an eye for it.  Though... good news!.... once again, there wasn't much to find! 
Interesting/disturbing fact:  During the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup... volunteers removed 958,893 caps/lids!  That's 958,893 times that people had the opportunity to do the right thing and instead way too many times that people got it wrong.  It makes me wonder why with all the data for just one day, that this whole Ocean Conservancy ICC hasn't become a HUGE catalyst for creating major change especially when it comes to extended producer responsibility.  Hmmm... 

Curiosity is ruling me right now.  
20 minutes on October 13, 2013 at Access 23
Litter by weight: 1.1 oz
Cigarette butts: 41
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 208 days:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 207

Plastic.  It's the most ubiquitous type of litter that I find.   It doesn't matter if I pick up 10 pounds or less than an ounce of litter... plastic is always there.  From wrappers, to cigarette butts to wine corks and on... plastic is the number one thing I find over and over again.
In the early stages of doing consistent beach cleanups, it was this reality that pulled at me to create personal changes to use less plastic.  Starting then and continuing to my now... I continually ask myself 

"How can I be part of the solution?  How can I contribute and help solve this problem?"

One of the best ways I have found that I can contribute is by living by example.  Making changes to live using less plastics and in turn showing others what is possible.  Not long ago, my friend Beth and plastic-free hero asked me to write a post for her blog My Plastic-Free Life on how I ask for what I want.  Take a peak inside my refrigerator and pantry... and read how I speak up to use less plastic here: 

20 minutes on October 4, 2013 at Access 25
Litter by weight: .7oz
Cigarette butts: 15
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 207 days:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 206

My family and I were supposed to go camping this weekend... but, with the government shutdown and subsequent closure of national parks and forests (humph) we rescheduled our plans for another weekend.  So on Thursday, instead of sitting around a campfire at our new favorite campsite, we hung out at our favorite spot at Wrightsville Beach.

Of course, we did a beach clean up.  And what is seeming to be the norm for my most recent beach cleanups... there wasn't much to pick up.
What there was a lot of on the beach were jellyfish.  Moon jellies to be exact.  They were washing up onto the sand as we walked and played.  My kids kept yelling, "Look!  Mom!  Plastic!"  ...and then they would laugh as if they had tricked me.  But then something amazing happened.  My youngest son picked up a small moon jelly up and threw it back into the ocean.

Then my daughter joined in.  And as we walked by a group of people and they saw what my kids were doing... they too got brave and with a t-shirt they picked up a jellyfish and threw it back into the ocean.  I felt like I was witnessing the starfish story with my very own eyes and it made me one proud mama.
20 minutes on October 3, 2013 at Access 39
Litter by weight: 7.3 oz
Cigarette butts: 41
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 206 days:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our Daily Ocean: Day 205

Having done over 200 beach cleanups, I'm always grateful for the days when I can walk the beach relaxed.... eyes focused on the sand and not find much to pick up.
I found the piece of plastic (pictured above) very intriguing.  Through my eyes, it looks like someone took the time to tie the plastic so it wouldn't blow away in the wind... yet, it got left on the beach.  Hmmm.....

Want to help clean up our world?  It's easier than making sure your trash gets thrown away.  The best way to help clean up our world is to not make so much trash.

One word: Refuse

20 minutes on October 1, 2013 at Access 15
Litter by weight: 1.1 oz
Cigarette butts: 22
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 205 days: