Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 90 - Jan.19, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
estimated pounds of trash collected today - 7.5
estimated pounds of trash collected to date - 379.5

As you can see, the beach was very windy when I arrived. I collected trash for 20 minutes, but did not make it all the way to the life guard tower 28, which is my turn around marker.

Why? Because it has been raining in LA, and so the beach is stuffed with trash. Trash that has been uncovered by the wind that was buried under the sand, and trash that has washed up on the shore from Santa Monica Bay.
I usually link a bunch of articles, or organizations in my posts, but today I would like to talk a little bit about The Daily Ocean. Recently I was interviewed for an inspiring blog called Planet Connect, and since I am not practiced at being interviewed, so I realized after the fact that I could have clarified and stressed the message that I am trying to send with this project better.

Here is an attempt to remedy that:
I chased a sea gull away from this ball while it was eating the fuzz off.


I collect trash from the beach for a small amount of time, in the same designated location, (my "backyard" beach if you will), to illustrate the point that there is a lot of crap littering our beaches!

It is not just a problem in places like the North Pacific Trash Gyre, the problem starts right here, where I live, where you live. 80% of the Marine Plastic Pollution that ends up in the ocean is blown in from the land. SO....
If you can see it by going to the beach yourself, picking it up, or by looking at my pictures, I am hoping that you will see the tragic fact that we are polluting our precious marine eco-systems with trash that is as mundane as a Cheezit's Bag, or an M&M wrapper, or tennis balls....plastic bottle cap lids, cigarette butts...the list is long, but PREVENTABLE.

* however, many of these seemingly inert pieces of trash are made of plastic, which turns out to leach toxins into the water, break down into smaller and smaller pieces that get into the marine food chain and back to us, and kill 100's of 1,000's of marine animals each year. Just to name a few of the problems from trashing our oceans.....


I collect from the beach to illustrate how much trash is out there, even on a beach in a very environmentally minded city like Santa Monica, and on a beach that is racked for trash daily, and has on average 15 trash cans lined up between life guard towers.....I still found 7.5 pounds of trash yesterday in 20 MINUTES.

I use a beach cleanup as a vehicle to show the problem in a tangible way. I encourage participation in cleanups because I have found that it helps me to pick up a water bottle, or food wrapper and ask myself next time I am hungry or thirsty,
"Do I need to buy a Single Use Plastic wrapped product? It will end up in a land fill, or in the ocean. I just picked one up off the beach the other day! Could I just make it home instead and remember my reusable water bottle next time?"
In brings an awareness that your life style choices make an impact to see these items littering the beach first hand. Like I said above, the problem is no longer floating in some far away gyre, it is right in your hand.
OK - SOLUTIONS: If recovery at sea is impractical for many reasons, and one of the most obvious being that to sail out into all the world's gyres would leave a huge carbon footprint, then, as was said by - Dr. Marcus Eriksen, of Algalita, Livable Legacy, 5gyres
"The idea of "Recovery" begins and ends on land."

One organization I will mention that I like very much is the PLASTIC POLLUTION COALITION. Who, the other day, had an email discussion about changes to support that make a real difference in terms of Plastic Pollution, especially in the Marine environment. I'll pass some of them on below:

1. REFUSE Single Use Plastics. Sign their S.U.P.E.R. Pledge (Single Use Plastic Emergency Response)

Example - bring your own reusable shopping bag to the market. Do you really need a handy little plastic bag for those apples you'll wash anyway? If you want, go to Beth Terry's blog where she chronicles her two plus years of, "LIVING LIFE WITH LESS PLASTIC" on her blog Fake Plastic Fish. She brings organic cotton produce bags with her to the market.

2. ECONOMIC INCENTIVES PER PRODUCT: Another solution promoted by the PPC, and Dr. Eriksen explains it well here:

"One solution we advocate is an economic incentives to recover plastic waste on land. A post-consumer value, let's say 25cents/pound for mixed plastics, would keep the waste off the land, beaches, roadsides, out of trees and watersheds.

Improving recovery is key to solving this problem. Economic incentives per product (EPR) or per pound would work. Bring back the school paper drive, but for plastic. Recovery is essential, but it doesn't happen at sea."

3. Ban Single Use Plastics ( SUP ) - Get involved at the local level and promote the ban of single use plastic bags for example. Team Marine (a local environmental group of high school activists) is circulating an online petition to get our city of Santa Monica to mobilize the ban of plastic bags.

Learn about local hearings on topics like these being held in your area. Attend and comment when they allow Public Comment. The local/state politicians who hold these meetings want to know what you think.

Finally, here is a comment left on a previous post of The Daily Ocean by Dan of NEEF (National Environmental Education Foundation) who is in Washington D.C.. He talks about the successful implementation of a $.05 TAX on Plastic Bags in D.C.:

"Our plastic bag tax in Washington DC has made a major difference. NO ONE takes bags anymore at grocery stores, CVS, Target, etc. It's only $.05, but they're not out anymore. It's only been two weeks since it was enacted, but it's night and day here. I will hope to remember to report back when we get some stats from the city on the reduction in plastic bag usage. Downside - I am running out of my dog poop clean up supply."

These were just a few suggestions. I'd like to hear more from you. Leave me a comment if you'd like to share.

The problem of Marine Plastic Pollution is HUGE, but there are solutions. They require work, some personal sacrifice to change our life style, perhaps the donation of your time/energy to get involved in local government, or by belonging to an environmental organization that you believe is working towards these solutions.

But the more I learn about this issue, the more I feel like now that I know, this knowledge has become my responsibility to act. At this point, for me, it would be way more painful to not take action, than to start to be part of the solution. I hope that The Daily Ocean inspires you to do the same in your life.