Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day 181 - Dec. 27, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
by Sara and Garen
4.3 pounds total - 2.1 to the Community Count
(scroll down on the right side of my blog for more information on the Community Count)
706.6 total
769.8 Community Count total

**note - need to re-do the math on my friend Danielle's contribution - will get to that soon and re-post the total**
It was fun to have my husband Garen out with me today. We've been keeping a very low profile over the holiday.

The beach was a mess tonight from the recent deluge of rain we've had. Another storm is an hour north of the LA area as I type this. Winter can be a little depressing for beach cleanups. There's just so much that washes through the storm drains and down the streets into the ocean that then comes up onto the sand.

Mark Armen of Gulpable has a great video post about what he found in the LA rain off Venice Beach.
I'm out of touch with my online community so I took a minute before writing this post to see what some of my fellow friends/bloggers have been up to during this holiday season.

First up is my friend Danielle of It Starts With Me who is 33 Days into her own beach cleanup series called OUR DAILY OCEAN. She went out on Christmas Day with her family. What a great thing to do!
If you give a donation to the International Bird Rescue and Research Center before the end of the year your donation will be matched by a generous donor. They were on the front lines of the Deep Water Horizon oil disaster, helping distressed birds when they needed it most.
BEACHED ART: from my friend Anke in Germany who scours the coast of the Baltic Sea and makes incredible collages from her findings.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 180- Dec. 22, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
7 pounds
704.4 pounds total

After what felt like weeks of rain, it cleared for a time yesterday so that I could get down to the beach. That is, until the thunder rolled in, but I had already collected for 20 minutes.

The rain provided a small chunk of time to withdraw from the outside world. I chose to hunker down inside with my dogs, cat, and husband (when he wasn't at SMC wrapping up the semester). I also chose to unplug from my online activities for a spell, electing only to check my email for a quick scan of essential business to be addressed. That was all. Instead, it felt wonderful to sink into the slowing down of holiday time at the end of each year. This is the first post in more than a couple of days, and it will be my last until the 26th. I'm going to live off-line. Happy holidays to all.

Makes me wonder what happened to all of the toothbrushes that I've used in my lifetime?
There is a brand that you can buy that comes in a mailer so that when you are finished with the life of the toothbrush, you pop it back in the original wrapping and mail it off (postage is covered by the company) to be recycled into another toothbrush. PRESERVE
The end of the year is a time for donations to non-profits that can be included in this year's taxes. Let me suggest one of my absolute favorites - HEAL THE BAY. I find enough of these to know that they need all the help we can give them to revive AB 1998 and get a statewide ban on single use plastic bags who have a long life after their one time service.
The beach was a mess. My 7 pound collection put me over the 700 pound mark for total Daily Ocean collections.
Today is the first full day of winter. If the weather persists, we are going to see plenty of skies that look like this for the next few months to come.
Wait, didn't I already include this photograph? No. This is another plastic bag that I found. I've included shots of two that I picked up off of the beach, but I know that I must have collected upwards of 10.
That's 1 plastic bag every 2 minutes.
Houston - we have a problem here.
A ray of sunlight broke through towards the end of my beach cleanup. OCEANA is another non-profit ocean conservation organization that shed some light on many of the diverse problems that have our oceans in peril, and they made some serious headway. Congratulations to them and my heartfelt thanks.
Yes, more sea gulls. If you have read The Daily Ocean before, you know that I have a strong appreciation for these birds.
I am going to echo the email that Blue Ocean Institute sent out about this time of year,
"May the holidays bring you inspiration, hope and renewal."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 179 - Dec. 15, 2010

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for for 20 min.
5.9 pounds collected
697.4 pounds total

Yesterday San Jose passed an ordinance to ban single use plastic bags! Marin is next on Jan. 4th. This is exciting news. The ban in San Jose is more extensive than others that have been adopted in the state. The ban goes into effect Jan. 1, 2012 and unlike the LA County unincorporated ban, this ban applies to all retailers without a short-term exemption for smaller grocers. Other municipalities considering a ban are Fremont, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Marin County and Santa Clara County. I'm smiling over here.
I can't get this video off of my mind that I watched earlier today of a Pygmy Sperm Whale that beached itself and was later saved by the Baltimore Aquarium after they removed several pieces of plastic wrappers, and bags from its stomach. The whale lived, and went on to be released. Well worth the watch!
Speaking about eating...the holidays are upon us. Check out this great website from The Blue Ocean Institute - Ocean Friendly Chefs, Green Chefs, Blue Ocean - for sustainable seafood restaurants in your area, sustainable seafood choices, and recipes. Another great tool from the folks at Carl Safina's organization. Here is a link to his interview on the Martha Stewart show that I've already posted, but what can I say? I heart Carl Safina.
I want to highlight one of The 5 Gyres Institutes partners, Pangea Explorations. I can't wait to join them to cross the South Pacific this spring. What am I talking about? At the top right side of The Daily Ocean is a link, "SPARE $5 FOR 5 GYRES" click on it and read more about how you can help fund our research.

Join an exceptional sailing expedition crossing an ocean in high-seas adventure and exploration. Pangaea Explorations is offering opportunities to join the sailing vessel Sea Dragon on unique voyages of discovery and understanding.

Sea Dragon is committed to a long-term project of marine conservation, exploration and education. From September to July 2011, Sea Dragon and her expedition team will conduct the next important phase of exploration. Traversing the Southern Atlantic between South America and Africa, and then onto the South Pacific she will span two of the world's great oceans. Read more about how you can reserve your crew position aboard the Sea Dragon.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get Better. It's not.

- The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

I love these birds.

Here's the latest from The Bag Monster Blog on LA's annual DAY WITHOUT A BAG. The tutorial was today in Alhambra, and tomorrow across Southern California there will be 25,000 free reusable bags handed out to the public. If you see a green Santa, that's most likely what he's up to. You know? I have never found a reusable bag on the beach before.

Monday, December 13, 2010


So much goes into a research expedition like the one that we are preparing for with The 5 Gyres Institute in the spring of 2011 that I thought I would put up periodic updates on The Daily Ocean for you to track our progress.

I will be blogging the heck out of our expedition that is planning to cross the South Pacific from Chile to Easter Island, and then on to Tahiti. THAT'S OVER 4,860 MILES OF OCEAN

We mapped our route on google earth the other morning. I was questioning my sanity after taking a good look at the distance we will cover.

I've included a CALL FOR SPONSORSHIP below that gives the pertinent information for sponsoring a trawl which collects plankton specimens, plastic micro-pollutants, and more.

This is an exciting time to be involved in this critical research. Please leave me a comment, or email me if you would like more information.

Garen and I for The 5 Gyres institute this summer at the Venice Eco Fest

Garen will be collaborating with Dr. Rebecca Shipe from UCLA who is a leading expert in the field of plankton biology. They got together this morning to take water samples off of the Santa Monica Pier to make sure that Garen is up to speed on the equipment she is generous enough to lend us.

Day 178 - Dec. 12, 2010

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
1.5 pounds
691.5 pounds total

Community Count Day 74 - Low Impact Betty
lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
.8 pounds
613.1 pounds total

Thank you Monica (the brains behind Betty) for trekking all the way from Silverlake to come and cleanup the beach!

Follow her on FB or Twitter and check out her impact-full blog - Low Impact Betty
I usually head out to the beach at sunset. Today was a rare snapshot of what the beach looks like before the end of the day.

"We probably won't find too much out here since the beach is raked around 7 a.m. and it's only 1:00," I said to Monica. But then I added, "I could be wrong."

There have been so many times that I have walked out onto the sand and gotten a first impression that it was "clean" only to find on closer inspection plenty to pick up off the sand.

Today was one of those days. The tally of pounds may not reflect this fact. All of the items we found were extremely lightweight. A plastic bag for example is only .25 ounces.

We talked about how most of what we were finding was made from plastics.
This is a Starbucks lid. Starbucks is starting a recycling campaign...how long has Starbucks been in business?

Here is a great piece that a Team Marine member sent around from Current TV called, "REDUCE YOUR FORKPRINT! THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF EATING OUT"

"Americans toss out enough plastic spoons, knives, and forks each year to circle the equator 300 times."
Branding is powerful. I would bet that this product begins with a "V" even though the label has been rubbed clean.

In the Dec. 13 issue of the New Yorker, Arrowhead Water took out a glossy two page ad 9 pages into the issue that is chock full with environmental spin. Water bottle sales are dropping. Damage control is necessary for their industry. How much do you think an ad like that costs?

I would bet that a company who felt confident in their product would not be shelling out the cash for an ad like that unless they were sweating a little.

Let's keep turning up the heat.
Buy a Klean Kanteen or EcoUsable Bottle for a loved one this holiday season, and watch companies like Arrowhead spin as fast as they can.

You'll see a trend from the other ads taken out in the front of the New Yorker:
Goldman Sachs (who needs more image spin than these guys?)
Chrysler (we know this company is not doing so well...)
Rolex (who needs a watch when you have a cell phone?)
Ford (these guys also need to pump it up to save their b-hind)

Dec. 12th and 81 degrees in Santa Monica. I'm not complaining, but didn't we say goodbye to summer months ago?

Although there is plenty on our beaches for me to pick up, we do not have tens of thousands of cigarette butts like they do in North Carolina where my friend Danielle Richardet lives.

She won the Britta Filter For Good film contest this year for her 20 minute cigarette butt cleanup that started because of a Daily Ocean cleanup that she came on over the summer. Danielle was shocked that we didn't pick up one cig. butt. I'm glad that we didn't find any that day. I usually get a few, but NOTHING compared to what she finds.

Her first day out in August she collected over 340! In 20 minutes! Now she's giving her elected officials presentations on the toxicity of cigarette butts while being filmed for a Sundance Channel short film by award winning Director Destin Cretton.

Here's a piece written on Danielle in her local Wrightsville Beach paper - StarNews Online.
Like the Grinch after embracing the spirit of Christmas in Whoville - I think my heart swelled two sizes two big when I read it this morning!

The last thing we saw when we were leaving the beach.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

12/3/10 - Driving Home

Did you know that the chasing arrows recycling symbol is unregulated?

Meaning: put one on my butt and no one can stop me. Doesn't mean my butt is recyclable.

I've been thinking about all the spin that is taken as truth about the recycling arrows. Watching the documentary BAG IT was the first time I got my eyes opened wide about how little actually gets recycled, and how most of our plastic waste gets shipped overseas to be burned in open air facilities, which in turn poisons the people working for pennies a day to deal with our garbage.

This re-melting also poisons the air, water, and soil of the foreign country who bought our dirty plastic. Because manufacturers want virgin plastic, or plastic nurdles to be used in the making of their packaging.
I got home from my trip last week and saw that my friend Harry who writes The Flotsam Diaries had been thinking about the same thing. He did such an amazing job of dispelling many of the recycling myths that I want him to get full credit, and for you to go to his website right now and read his post, "The Downward Spiral, or "The Triangle is a Lie."" Please.

Careful, you may not be able to close your eyes after this one.

"** The American Chemistry Council loves to talk up the value of plastic recycling. Look for their symbol on many recycling Web sites. Also look for them as sponsors of recycling initiatives nationwide. But their own fact sheets dispell the myth. 50+% of recycled #4 plastic was sold to developing nations in 2008. Many have much lower standards for their plastics and permit very contaminated plastics to be melted together and used in food packaging. Each grocery bag you recycle may be poisoning a family somewhere on the other side of the world." - The Flotsam Diaries

This post is a little light on the gritty truth for me, but may help you dispell some of the recycling myths further. It is a practicle giude to which numbers are recycled, into what, and how often.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 177 - Dec. 4, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
1.2 pounds
690 pounds total
Emilia came out with me tonight. She is a senior at Harvard-Westlake High School who is getting ready to go to college next year, but found the time to come out with me to take some pictures for her Photography Class. I'm honored.
I've been thinking about the Gulf a lot lately. Maybe it has to with the fact that I saw "Gulf Shrimp" on the menu of our favorite restaurant Sunday night that rose a red flag in my head, or that I watched a clip of Carl Safina on the Martha Stewart show talking about the devastation to the fisheries in the Gulf? Here is an article from Current TV on the "Secret Ingredients of Corexit," which if you don't know is the dispersant that BP has sprayed millions of gallons of into the Gulf. (and is perhaps continuing to do so daily...yes even now)

I noticed a comment at the bottom of the article from a man who had bought a one way ticket to Redding CA from his Gulf Coast home and I thought again about how I would feel if I had to do the same? How hard would it be to have to leave our life behind here on the Santa Monica Bay? Answer: heartbreaking.

Forgive me for being self promoting but I have forgotten if I've mentioned that I am in the YAHOO! Year In Review as one of 2010's Most Inspirational Acts. Pretty tickled over this.

If you could do one thing to help Garen and I raise the last 27K it will take to go on the 5 Gyres Research expedition, it would be to post the link to this article on your FB page for us so that we can get the word out. Thank you!

Help him have one true employer - THE OCEAN

"I'm looking for 100 Blue Angels to help me to continue the work I've been doing for the past two decades. If you appreciate the way I work, my accomplishments so far and the importance of the work ahead, please consider joining me."

I created THE DAILY OCEAN NEWS with this fantastic application called paper.li which lets you post all of your favorite twitter feeds into an online "newspaper" and you don't even have to be on twitter to enjoy it.

Wallace J Nichols
Philipe Cousteau
5 Gyres
Jim Moriarty, CEO Surfrider
Carl Safina
Heal The Bay

and some of my favorite Ocean Hero Civilians DianeN56, therightblue, and mstrlight

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 176 - Dec. 3, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
1.9 pounds
688.8 pounds total

Community Count Day - 73
Aaron Richardet from North Carolina visiting Santa Monica
trash collected for 20 minutes
1.1 pounds
612.3 pounds total

A special thanks to Aaron for coming out with me on the beach. He is the husband of my good friend Danielle who writes a fantastic blog called "It Starts With Me" and is responsible for OUR DAILY OCEAN - a 20 min. cigarette butt cleanup on her local Wrightsville Beach, NC. She also weighs the trash she finds for my Community Count. Just love it!
Sara Sikich from Heal the Bay signing the reprinted version of AB 1998 - the statewide ban on single use plastic bags sponsored by Heal the Bay. She's all smiles in Sacramento as we concluded a press conference to show support to the local municipalities pursuing bag bans, and reviving AB 1998 for the Dec. special session before the Governor leaves office. Fingers crossed!
I've been meaning to include this quote by Nobel Peace Prize Winner from 2004

"Passion begins with a burden and a split second moment when you understand something like never before.

That burden is on those who know. Those who don't are at peace. Those of us who do know get disturbed and are forced to take action."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My take on the AB 1998 press conference in Sacramento on 11/29

I got a chance to shake hands with Assemblywoman Julia Brownley who is the principle author of AB 1998 - CA statewide ban on single use plastic bags. I may have mentioned - oh just a few times - that she is from Santa Monica!
Terry Taminen of Seventh Generation Advisors introduced all the speakers at the press conference. His wife Leslie Taminen is a power house strategist, and super star who works tirelessly for legislation like AB 1998 that supports ocean health.
Sara Sikich of Heal the Bay gets to sign her name to the reprinted version of the bill. There were a lot of names on that board. I am sure that if felt good to add hers since Heal the Bay is the primary sponsor of the bill.

Thank you Heal the Bay for all of your hard work, and to Kirsten James of Heal the Bay who has lobbied for AB 1998 in Sacramento more times than she can remember, but could not come up that day.
The four star students from the South Orange County Surfrider Chapter who are leaders in their own high schools as part of the Surfrider Clubs that have sprung up in the last year are seen above joining forces with Environment California canvassers who came up in support of AB 1998.

A big thank you to Denise Erkeneff for mentoring the 9 high schools, and one middle school into adopting Surfrider Clubs at their schools deep in the O.C..

The students with Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi from the city of San Francisco who was:
Andy Keller - creator and owner of Chico Bags who gave a great speech about the benefits to CA's economy by fostering more green jobs. You can watch his speech in this post.
Ahhh - this next photograph is of a major lobbyist for the ACC who had so many of his facts wrong that it would take me all day to list them, but here are some of the highlights from his interview. Notice that he had some people in the background that were trying to get his attention.

HE SAID: "Bill would have succeeded in putting people out of work in CA."
HE LEFT OUT: That the largest bag manufacturer of single use bags is in South Carolina.

HE SAID: AB 1998 would "Raise grocery costs for families"
HE LEFT OUT: That if you remember your bag you don’t have to buy a paper bag for 5 cents. And the price of the already available paper and plastic "free" bags are already in your grocery bill right now. SO using a reusable bag saves you money.

HE SAID: "There’s a better way to deal with it (plastic bags) and that is through enhanced recycling and public education."
HE LEFT OUT: For years they have been “improving” recycling efforts and are up to less than 5%. That is only 950 million out of the 19 billion bags that CA uses in only one year! That leaves 18.05 billion bags in our oceans, rivers, landfills and streets…

These bags are fully recyclable and people reuse them in their homes so to suggest that people use them once and dispose of them is factually incorrect."
HE LEFT OUT: Um..what about the CADMIUM in the red lettering on the bags that ends up in peoples homes that is a known carcinogen?

And one final message to State Senator Mimi Walters from the students in her district:
(Who also took $3,600 in donations from the ACC and voted against AB 1998)

"I feel like our senator Mimi Walters does not represent us. She does not represent what the future needs, just what the ACC wants. If she were here today I would ask her to please re-look at her wants and what other people have influenced her to do like the ACC and really look at what the people need and what the people want."

Senator Walters might want to rethink the price of listening to her constituents.