Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 206 - July, 27 2011

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

It's summer! And I'm back to the beach that started it all for me. With a whopping 10.3 pounds of trash collected in just 20 minutes, I'm reminded why I started this crazy project in the first place.

Summer on the beach equals sand toys. And sand toys are the Velveteen Rabbits of their toy genre. Beloved, but then tossed aside and forgotten. For a more updated example, think Toy Story. Although the fate of these little guys, unlike their Tom Hanks counter parts, is a crash course swimming lesson that make take them to distant shores....and possibly other grateful hands....until? 

Meet the modern sand shovel. Many, MANY plastic cups get a second life as a sand scoop, but soon meet the same fate as the above toy. 

As I was picking up trash for the first time since we left in March, I remembered how much I love doing this. I love picking up trash! What a funny proclamation, and it may be stretching the truth. What I love is this:
- feeling useful
- feeling like I may be making a difference by engaging someone strolling the beach in a conversation they didn't expect to have about what I'm doing and why
- taking photographs of the Southern California beach at sunset. The real low point of all of this. Not. 
- thinking about what I want to share with you in my upcoming post as I walk along, paying closer attention to my observations and thoughts than I might normally rushing around in the day to day of it all.

I was off my game a bit. I set my bag aside, got the camera ready, watched a wave come in close to this chapstick, and thought how perfect it would be to get the water in the background. 

NOT remembering that when I have cared more about the shot, than the said object in front of me, and let the incoming tide sweep it away before my shutter clicks, that I feel awful. 

To simplify: I don't want to sacrifice the plastic object getting sucked into the ocean for a nice shot to share with you. Not the point. The point for me is to get the stuff off the beach. There will be other shots. 

Luckily, this little beauty got swept further onto the beach rather than back out with the wave in time for me to remember this lesson. 

I saw my friend Dean down at the beach this morning. I've been body surfing with a new group of friends who are fast feeling like friends I've had for years. Anyway, Dean was part of the inspiration to get my butt back onto the sand. He's been out with me a few times now. 

It's true that I set the rule for myself that my cleanups can be non-consecutive, but the days were clicking by since I updated The Daily Ocean about our research trip, and I still wasn't feeling the inspiration to start back up with my 20 minute collections. 

Perhaps I wasn't ready to come back until now. I needed to digest the experiences we had while we sailed from Chile to Tahiti. My perspective has changed. 

I kept wondering how all of this was going to fit into my beach cleanup project. But one day out here, and I remembered exactly why I spend a fair portion of my time on this project. 

Regardless of the other issues plaguing our ocean that I witnessed, and will surely talk about on here, trash is a huge problem for the beach down the street from me. A stream of mostly plastic debris gets sucked into Santa Monica Bay everyday. 

One insight I gained from getting in the water in remote places while away, was that our sharks need help. Summer always brings sensationalized news of shark bites in the usual places. But we are the real predators. It's hard to wrap our heads around the fact that we are wiping out a highly evolved species that have been around since before the dinosaurs. We are. 

Go check out LANDSHARK SKATEBOARDS to learn more. 


  1. SARAH!!! You're back... (well... you've been back... but you're really back!!) I loved following along with your ocean adventure... but to see that you're back at the beach is exciting :)

    There is something very "special" about picking up trash at the beach.... and I think you hit it with "feeling useful"... in such a short amount of time you're able to really see the difference you've made... and then add it all up AND you're almost to 800 lbs! Yowza.

    There have been a lot of shark bites out here... warm water... bait fish swimming close to shore = sharks getting too close to people. ...another thing is there have been some wash up on shore dead... don't know what is going on, but it's so sad.

    We went to the beach tonight... our 82nd 20 minute clean up. We've almost hit the 25,000 mark! YIKES! Every time we go I always think about how long you've been at this and how trying it must be sometimes. As much as you learned while you were away, I can only imagine that it helped you come back to this project refreshed and with a new perspective to carry you through the next 159 days :)

  2. Hi Sarah! Saw you on the news tonight and think you are fantastic. However, please be safe and wear gloves while collecting your items. I noticed your bare hands on tv and am just reminding you to be safe while you are out and about. Many times beaches are littered with offendig objects that may be carrying invisible contaminants. (I am a health care worker and for instance, hep c can live outside the body on surfaces for several days.) I was walking on a local beach collectings stones and shells with my daughter and saw what at first appeared to be a small plastic bag. It was a used condom, knotted and tied and tucked in the sand. Please be cautious and with that final on!!!

  3. Danielle -

    So wonderful to read your long, thoughtful comment. It IS great to be back, back to the beach that is. And yes, tough to keep it going sometimes. But that's why we band together, no? Couldn't be doing this without you. Mean it.

  4. Anonymous -
    Thanks for leaving me this comment. I haven't seen it yet since it will air here starting in 8 minutes! I do wear a glove, but thanks for your concern. I don't know why I had it off that day? Perhaps the big-tan-mitt of a gardening glove wouldn't make the shot look all that pretty. grin.

    thanks for taking time on a Sunday night to reach out and very glad you liked the segment -

  5. Well... in all my excitement I spelled your name wrong!!! (ack!!) Let me try that again...

    Sara!!!!!!!! :D (ok, I feel better now)

    It is so hard to keep it going sometimes... it's only been 82 days for me and sometimes I wonder "how much longer??" <-- especially when you were gone from the beach! I swear now that you're back (and seeing you on TV!! woot!!) I feel a sense of renewal now :)