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!


  1. Kids ask the smartest questions, don't they? so matter of fact... As far as the plastic question, answer is, is that its cheaper to make plastic than to use glass, that's why mfg.'s use plastic. And for us to stop buying the product in plastic is harder and so is passing a law to outlaw plastic.Its a damn catch 22

  2. The kids had such a great time and I could tell it really made an impact on them! When we got back to school, I overheard them saying that they can't wait to go home and tell their parents not buy water bottles. Others were looking for the chasing arrows and noticing that certain pieces had 5's or 6's on them and they got frustrated since they know now that its most likely going to another country. Thank you again for coming out and inspiring students, parents and teachers!!!