Saturday, October 30, 2010

Community Count Day 69 - Manhattan Academy

Community Count Day 69 - Manhattan Beach Pier, CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
by 47 people
35.2 pounds collected
570.6 total

The Daily Ocean combined total - 1,239.4 pounds

It was a picture perfect fall day as we set out to collect trash from the Manhattan Beach with the Manhattan Beach Academy. Their small school is blocks away from the scene you see above.

About two weeks ago a parent brought in the LA Times article about this blog for her daughter's teacher, Miss Ricardo, to read. Rachelle Ricardo went online, found my contact information ( and emailed me, inviting me to come to her school. I love getting emails from people who want to talk to me about The Daily Ocean.
I spent 30 min. talking to the school in their gym and showing them pictures that I have taken of the beach in Santa Monica. Some of the photos were of sea gulls and sunsets, but most were of the trash that I find there. The pictures sparked many questions from them like:

1. What can we do as teachers in the school to reduce our disposable plastic consumption?

I said to set the intention, and maybe buy more colored pencils instead of plastic markers.

2. Why doesn't the government make "them" stop making plastic?

I said (after trying to wrap my head around a succinct answer to tell Zena who is maybe 8 or 9) that actually it is much easier to change the amount of plastic produced if we individually stop buying products that are made from it. If we don't buy plastic products, "they" will stop making them.

Oversimplified? Sure - but it was a tall order to answer.

Here is Gisela (pardon any misspellings) and her mother Debra inspecting their findings.

Debra and I spoke at the school before we left and I mentioned many facts that I learned from the documentary BAG IT. I know that I link to it a lot, but I promised her a link, so here it is.

"A powerful and deceptively simple movie that is sure to change the way you look at every day objects. I didn't expect a movie about plastic bags to change my life in such a deep and profound way. Gripping, funny, intelligent and sure to change your life."

- Louie Psihoyos, Director of The Cove

There maybe other people who came to the discussion before the beach cleanup that would be interested in learning more from watching BAG IT.

May I humbly suggest a screening for the families at Manhattan Academy? A family night of environmental education?

As you can see - we found the same kinds of trash down the coast from Santa Monica that I do around life guard tower 26 at the end of Ocean Park Blvd..

The average collection for each person that participated today was .75, or three quarters of a pound, but I emphasised two things before we began.

1. Let's celebrate if we find a pretty clean beach when we go out. Don't be disappointed if you don't find a lot of trash, that is a good thing.

2. The small bits of styrofoam and plastic count just as much as the bigger pieces.

A look inside a collection bucket that could be from anywhere on CA coastline.

Did you know that paper coffee cups are lined with plastic? Used to be wax, now it is plastic. Coffee is extremely acidic.

May I suggest buying a stainless steal coffee mug? And then forgive yourself if you forget on occasion, but try as often as you can remember to reprogram your coffee habits.
Better for you - better for the environment.

All in all - I think that the students had fun, and were surprised when we added up the grand total of 35.2 pounds.

I was honored to come down there to speak to them. I'll come again. And in the meantime here is another link for Manhattan Academy.

The Story of Bottled Water, by Annie Leonard. It is a ten minute short by the same woman who did The Story of Stuff.

I hope this spark of beach, and ocean conservation continues to spread through your school. It made my entire day to see the beginnings of it during our discussion and then again on the beach. Good work! And thank you!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 167 - Oct. 27, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
1.5 pounds
668.8 pounds
Tonight is the last night to vote for Danielle in the Britta Filter for Good Film Project. Her entry is called, "Our Daily Ocean: A Story of Butts." She's very gracious to consistently site her inspiration as this blog for her 20 min. beach cleanup in Wrightsville Beach, N.C. that she does with a twist, but all the action is because of her.

She counts the cigarette butts she collects during those 20 minutes and keeps a tally of those. So far in 15 days she has collected, (with the help of her three small children and husband Aaron) 7,360 CIGARETTE BUTTS. That's insane.

Hopefully a short film that will air during the Sundance Film Festival if she wins will go a long way to banning smoking on her home beaches in North Carolina. So vote for her tonight!
It was a gorgeous 84 degree October day here in Santa Monica with many surfers enjoying the waves until the sun went down and beyond.
CRUSH PROP 23 needs you! Sponsored by Credo, this campaign wants to get out the vote to squash Prop 23 on Tues.. You can type in your zip code and search for events in your area to:
Did you know that you can't recycle number 5 plastics?

Did you also know that most, if not all yogurt containers are made from number 5 plastic?
(I love yogurt!)

Did you also know that the chasing arrows symbol that we have all come to associate, or be synonymous with recycling, is not regulated?
At all?

I could put a chasing arrows symbol on my butt if I wanted. Well, you get the point. GENIUS marketing... BAG IT, the documentry is where I learned all the fun facts that I listed above.
I've started doing yoga again after a long hiatus. I've joined in on the odd class here and there over the last two years, (probably all of 5) and so the 5 minute headstand we did in class (I was against the wall for support...) has sent too much oxygenated blood to my head I think because all that is running through my head right now to end the post with is, "Ahhh... pretty. sunsets good. love California....pretty....ahhh.) Mix and match as you choose. I think I'll leave it there.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 166 - Oct. 26, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
1.5 pounds
667.3 pounds total
The tide line was littered with tiny bits of fragmented plastic and styrofoam. I got 200 feet from the first life guard tower in 20 min. The distance that I usually cover is about 2 football fields pushed together.

This is a perfect example of when the low tally of pounds would make you think - hooray! - but in actually the collection was the fragmented bits of plastic that are insidious, and dangerous.

The fish don't know thes fragments are not food. And you don't have to be a marine biologist to deduce that eating plastic does not do, "a body good." (obscure milk commercial reference in quotes - ah the power of advertising that I remember that from 15+years ago...)

But don't take my word for it. Look at 5 Gyres links to read about bio-accumulation of toxins in marine life from ingested plastic.
I didn't take very good photographs tonight. I was late-ish to the beach so the light was fading, and I felt a little rushed. The sun sets promptly at 6 o'clock these days. Not only was it not a good night for photographs, it was a yucky night for the cleanup.

Besides from the fragments of plastic that is engrossing and tedious to clean up, I found a maxi pad. A really newly used maxi pad that was discarded in between the cement gaps in the wall from the beach to the parking lot.

Not only did it make me scratch my head, it almost made me gag. So I left it. I know it doesn't belong in the ocean. And I hope it doesn't get there, but I just couldn't bring myself to be the one to dispose of that piece of human refuse.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 165 - Oct. 22, 2010

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

What makes an idea take "flight?" One thing usually leads to another. One inspiration follows the next. One person passes a spark to someone else, and may not even know it. So have you voted yet for my incredible friend Danielle in Wrightsville Beach N.C. picking up cigarette butts? She's in the Britta Filter for Good Film contest. Her story, "Our Daily Ocean: A Story of Butts," will be made into a short and shown during Sundance if she wins. Lets help her get there!

By the way - Oct. 23 is National Make A Difference Day - (as Danielle pointed out on her blog)
Umm...I think she's doing that! 7,360 butts off the beach in 15 days!
These glow sticks aren't for Halloween. They are for attracting fish to lines at night.

Do you know what Long-Lining is?

It is a commercial fishing practice where they let out miles - yes MILES - of mono filament line with thousands of hooks attached to it - let it sit baited - and then reel it in. But the by-catch is enormous. By-catch = unintended or unwanted animals/fish and sea birds that get caught in the line or net, die and are throw back into the water.

I like to check the Blue Ocean's FISH text report when I go out to eat. It is fast, easy, save it in your contacts, have some sushi guilt free. I don't need to think about the turtles that died for my fish when I'm out to dinner. I like to have a scallop hand roll with a clear conscious.

There are apps to download - or

"No iPhone? No worries! You can send us a text message to learn about your seafood choices.

Text 30644 with the message FISH and the name of the fish in question. We'll text you back with our assessment and better alternatives to fish with significant environmental concerns."

Balloon with green trim, or jellyfish?

Hard to tell if you are a sea turtle that used to be able to eat almost everything out there until about 60 years ago. They've been around for millennia so it might take a little while for them to adapt. But should they have to, or should we try to keep the freakin' Mylar balloons out of the ocean for them?

I've taken this shot at least 3 out of the 5 times that I have gone to the beach for collections lately. A pattern that I would rather not document.
I was talking to someone yesterday about the six pack ring photo I included in Day 163, and we were agreeing that most people know to cut those things up, right? I don't recall our tone being righteous really, just more astounded that it's not second nature by now. (maybe a wee-bit of righteous sprinkled in coming from a good place...)

Then I hung up the phone, and my stomach dropped. I had picked up the six pack ring, blogged about it, and thrown it away without cutting the rings....I don't share this to absolve myself - although I feel awful - but to say perhaps that even people with the best intentions to help the environment are not perfect. I will be the first to say that I am not.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 164 - Oct. 20, 2010

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

Community Count - Day 68
Dean Miya - Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
2.4 pounds
535.4 pounds total

*Please excuse the excessive amount of sunset pictures in this post. We've had a lot of rain.*

Go Inspire Go - Is this fantastic website -- "using social networking for social change" -- created by Toan Lam.
You can follow them on FB, Twitter, YouTube and the Huff Post.

Here's a quote from the story high-lighted on their homepage: "People talk about change. Some dream about it. Others take action and ARE the change..." now GO check out this cool site!
Oceana's Chile victory: Here's some good news. Oceana teamed up with National Geographic and the Waitt Foundation to propose a no-take marine reserve to Chile's President Pinera. The Fisheries Committee of Chile's Senate supported the recommendation unanimously and has established the reserve around Sala y Gomez Island, which is home to abundant populations of vulnerable species not found in the waters around neighboring Easter Island.

This is a huge step in the right direction. The marine park increased Chile's protected area more than 100 times! Oceana and National Geographic are going back to survey other sea mounts in the area to propose more protection. Good luck to them and congratulations on a huge victory for the oceans.
Disney Oceans is out on DVD and BluRay - Rent it if you don't predict that you will watch it repeatedly, (like will happen in our house.) If you go to their site and order the DVD, BluRay or Movie Download before Oct. 25th they will make a contribution in your honor to Save Our Coral Reefs. Sweet deal! Too bad I already have mine sitting next to me on my desk here. But that doesn't mean I can't donate on my own.
Our collection was of made up of mostly small fragments of plastic wrappers like the one above. And they were all found next to the water - not on the tide line - just up from the waves.

So 4.5 pounds of trash, (our combined total) was actually a lot of rubbish. For comparison -
1 Werther's Original candy wrapper weighs - .o2 ounces
1 plastic bag - .25 ounces
Dean Miya holding an eroded Mickey Mouse Mylar Balloon

One of the amazing outcomes from starting The Daily Ocean is that I get to meet incredible people. People like my friend Dean Miya who are working to help the oceans in a very low-key and direct way. He doesn't have a website to check, or a twitter account to follow his adventures on (although I know he has FB), he just helps when he is moved to. I got to hear about the trip he took to the Gulf with The Sea Shepard's that was only supposed to last for ten days and turned into 3 weeks!

Dean's trip to the Gulf

- He got to tag Whale Sharks to see if they are dying and fleeing the area b/c of the oil
- He took water samples that were sent to Canada for independent testing
- He spoke to local shrimpers who said that they wouldn't shrimp because their catch was not healthy even though the US government had given the ok (by sniffing the shrimp - now that's extensive testing)
- He got to see a crab fisherman crack open a - well a crab - to explain that the oil is inside the animals by getting Dean to feel the "oily" insides of the little critter. (Dean's disclaimer is that he doesn't know what crab insides feel under normal conditions - not too many of us do I imagine!)
- He learned a disturbing term that has sprung up from money being passed out to fisherman, "SPILLIONARES." BP has handed out money to these folks as a retainer for them to essentially do nothing...since they dispersed all the oil with their toxic dispersant.
- He got to DO something because he felt like he couldn't just watch the tragedy unfold without helping.

My hat is off to you Dean. You walk the walk you talk. Thank you for all that you do.

Yes, another one. That's a comment for anyone who saw Day 163

Oil moratorium lifted after 6 months! Yup - the only news that I could think of to put under this lovely photograph is the disappointing news that Obama has lifted the Deepwater Oil Drilling moratorium with out really changing anything. Ugh. Here's the NY Times piece on it.

Another terribly cool person I've got to talk to is Joel Harper. He is a musician, poet, author, dad, activist and all around amazing guy who wrote, "All the Way to the Ocean." When no one would help him get his vision published - he taught himself how navigate the self publishing world with deft skill, and success. Check out his truthful, and inspiring book that teaches all of us just what is ending up in our oceans....
Join Barbara Boxer for a rally on Sat. Oct. 23 - doors open at 10 AM - at Perry's Beach Cafe 930 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica CA (free parking in Lot 7 North, PCH)

"A call to action against offshore drilling"

Another great person I got to connect with is Mary, Dean's neighbor who happened to be out on the beach last night taking pictures of the sunset. She has a studio down the street from me on Ocean Park Blvd.. Here is her website where you can view the amazing art that she creates.

What are these things? I find them too often to let it remain a mystery. Someone please help.

I know fall has arrived when I see the new varieties of sea birds join the local gulls. The smallest birds with the legs that move faster than the naked eye can see are my favorites.

Community Count Back Log

Daryl collects here at Dockweiller Beach in the LA area for 2 years & counting!

4 days of Community Count Cleanups come from here - The Baltic Sea

Santa Barbara - two Community Counts come from here

First of all, I would like to thank all of the people who reached out with emails, and comments after reading about The Daily Ocean in the LA times last month. It was a thrill to read so many good wishes and kind words about this project. I've also had the chance to meet a few of you, and that is also a real treat.

This past month I was chained to my computer for most of the day finishing a project that has taken nearly four years. I completed the draft last Thurs. knowing full well that it doesn't stop there. But it does mean that I get a reprieve from the intensity of writing for many hours a day and now I am chained to my desk answering back-logged emails.

Actually, I am enjoying pouring over emails from people who have written in about what they have found on their walks, on their beaches. There are so many of you that I have to dedicate an entire post to your efforts. I'm really looking forward to compiling all of your hard work here. It inspires me to no end. I hope you find that these people have the same effect on you. Again, my sincerest thanks.


1. Anke - The Baltic Sea, Germany
2. Ginger Taylor, Wrightsville Beach N.C.
3. Patricia - professor at SBCC, Santa Barbara
4. James - Long Beach CA
5. Rebecca, Santa Barbara CA
6. Arleen - Martha's Vineyard MA
7. Daryl - Dockweiller Beach LA, CA
8. Jaqueline - Makaha, Oahu

1. Anke - She collects rubbish from her beach on the Baltic Sea and creates beautiful art with it. She went above and beyond the Community Count call and submitted 4 days worth of beach cleanup information.

Day 1 - 9/18 3.9 pounds
Day 2 - 9/23 - 2.4 pounds
Day 3 - 9/24 - 1.4 pounds
Day 4 - 9/25 - 15 pounds

total 22.7 pounds

2. Ginger Taylor - Wrightsville Beach, N.C.
I have two collections to report about from her.
She walked for 20 minutes near beach access 33 and found 1.7 pounds. Here is her list of trash:

74 cigarette butts
7 bottle caps
5 straws
1 wiffle ball
1 mini New Hanover Wildcats basketball (the kind they throw out at the game)
1 unused large black garbage bag
1 walmart plastic bag
4 Styrofoam cups
1 netting (the kind that beach toys are packaged in)
2 zip lock bags
1 cigar tip
3 balloons
1 hat
1 plastic spoon
other bits and bobs

Her second collection took place in the woods: All things roll down hill, all drains lead to the ocean....

Today we picked up 14 lb. 11.4 oz. of trash in a little over an hour while we walked the dog and played with other dogs. Most of the trash came from behind Carlton Place apartments. It looks as though residents party up and throw their beer and cigarette butts over the fence into the woods. Another "dirty" area was the Hooker Rd. access to the forest. There we picked up many many plastic bottles and aluminum cans as well as two bags of something poopy---yuck yuck yuck!

Here is a list of our loot:
2 beer case boxes
14 plastic bottles
a pile of rusted survey flags (plastic flags)
5 glass bottles
16 aluminum cans
4 plastic cups
3 straws
1 styrofoam cup
5 glass bottles
2 dirty diapers
2 plastic bags of poop
5 plastic bags
lots of other bibs and bobs of plastic and styrofoam stuff.

3. Patricia is a professor at Santa Barbara Community College. She takes her students out every Sunday! That's right - every Sunday time depending on the tide. They have a FB page I can't see since I don't have a personal FB account. But you probably can!
Look up - Beach Angels on FB to see what they are up to.
I will be going up to the Santa Barbara area to collect with them, and another woman who contacted me from the area. Stay tuned for those results.

4. James - Long Beach already baught a scale to go out with, and he will report back to me when he has the chance to head to the beach.

5. Rebecca - Santa Barbara - collects trash when she walks her dog (I've learned that many people do this, yay!) I've pasted a few lines from her email here because it makes me smile. Especially the last line.

When out with Ruby the Jack Russell, I pick up litter for our 1 to 2 mile walks/6 days weekly. Plastic, glass, ciggy butts, dog poop, clothing, cardboard, paper, on and on.

I calculatee poundage in my head and multiply by the imaginary if 1,000 people in SB did what I do, we could keep______pounds per year from reaching the ocean.

Your pictures and precision make it much better but just so you know.

We are out here!

6. Arleen - Martha's Vineyard. She was one of the first people to follow The Daily Ocean on twitter. She also came out for a cleanup at the end of the summer when she was visiting her daughter who lives in Santa Monica. And recently she went to her own beach to see what she could find while also dragging out her kitchen scale. I love LOVE LOVE this photograph.

3.6 lbs of trash- squibnocket beach in 20 min on Twitpic

Arleen was bummed to find that her, "quiet Martha's Vineyard Squibnocket beach" was not very clean like she thought it would be. She found 3.6 pounds in 20 min.
Some of the items she collected were:

a buoy
a slipper
some jeans
and balloon ribbon

Sounds very much like the beach in Santa Monica. See a trend?

Squibnocket Beach slipper on Twitpic
*if you click on these images they enlarge.
Squibnocket buoy ...  Trash on Twitpic

7. Daryl emailed me from the LA area. She has been doing what I do with The Daily Ocean for over 2 years! Bravo! She cleans a stretch of beach from Marina Del Ray to Dockweiller Beach (notoriously dirty). Daryl said that the most frequently found item out there are plastic straws. Here's a way to cut back on straw liter. The next time you go to a restaurant and order a drink ask them to hold the straw. It will catch on. Your friends may ask you why with a funny look on your face. You can then explain, and even if only one person catches on to the hlod the straw habbit, that is one more person than before....

Daryl says that she finds all the usual suspects like:
plastic cigar tips
plastic cups
plastic bags (see a trend forming -- it begins with the letter p...)
plastic toys
styrofoam cups
plasitc forks

but also ....
dead birds
dead sea lions

and one time:
" I even found a live fullgrown chicken in a trashcan near Marina. Freaked me out!
Keep up the good work. The oceans need our help. We are drowning in our own waste."

8. Jaqueline - Makaha, Oahu and Mauna Lanilahi Beach Park
Here's a quote from what she finds on her daily walks along the stretch of road near her house in Makaha:
I now work on my daily walk on a stretch of road and most of that stuff consists of 7/11,McDonalds, plate lunch boxes and beer bottles flung out of the cars traveling on this road. "

And another quote from her beach collections:
I filled at least 6 large garbage bags with the following items, frequently seeing myself people eat plate lunches from styrofoam containers and just getting up where they sat leaving behind the plates, folks, cups, plastic bags, condiment containers, and straws. Mothers left their dirty disposable diapers right on the beach along with their children's juice containers with straws. These people would get up from a nice lunch or day at the beach, walk by the trash can and get into their cars."

The reason that I wanted to include all of these people's findings in one post is that we are collecting the same liter from all of our beaches. And we are all seeing the same behavior.

I saw the remains from a family that got up from the sand in Santa Monica and left all of their disposable plates, forks, cups, etc. right where they were sitting.

But here is the good trend that I thought would be apparent if I shared this in one post. We all care about the beaches where we live. We are all taking the same actions to protect the ocean that we live near. We are all making a difference. Join us?