Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 287 - May 30, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
3.2 pounds
1,070 pounds total 

4 cigarette butts

If the oceans could deliver a "message in a bottle" to us, the note might include the same information as you'll see in this beautiful video from OCEANA. 
OCEANA is the "largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation." 

OCEANA has won key policy victories in many countries. They focus on measurable outcomes in three main areas: STOP OVERFISHING, CONTROL BYCATCH, PROTECT THE NURSERIES.
"We can restore the oceans' vitality...ensure it remains bountiful and beautiful for generations to come."

Who doesn't want to watch dolphins? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day 286 - May29, 2012

This is my dad. 

He's on vacation with his wife Gretchen in the Grand Caymans. I love seeing how relaxed, and happy he is. They deserve a fun break from their hectic NYC lives with all the various work and family related responsibilities they shoulder during their day-to-day. 

I also love that while out on the beach, they picked up the trash they saw. 

Gretchen's email said, "trash we picked up far too quickly." While I am sure this plastic junk colored their walk, they addressed it rather than dismiss the obvious. They're still having a good time on vacation, and while they're enjoying a much needed break, they're positively impacting their little stretch of beach.
Hope their example inspires you to do the same whether at home or at play. 

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
5.9 pounds
1,066.8 pounds total 

2 cigarette butts

This is an oldie, but goodie - TIM MUNCHIN'S CANVAS BAG MUSIC VIDEO

Could the solution to plastic bag garbage clogging our beaches and waterways be as simple as his song suggests? Watch the video and let me know what you think.

Summer is here, it's after Memorial Day, and the sun sets around 8 p.m., giving people a chance to get their toes in the sand after work. I really enjoy seeing people have fun on the beach, but I also know that with people comes trash. 

I see the direct connection every time I weigh my collection after 20 min. from now until about October. Let's all try to remember when we go to the beach this summer, to bring less stuff to loose in the sand, get tossed aside and forgotten. Once you're there, all you need are bare feet, a swimsuit, towel and if I can be so bold, a reusable water bottle to refill at the water fountain next to the bathrooms. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day 285 - May 25, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
5 pounds
1,060.9 pounds total 

ZERO cigarette butts 
(the second beach cleanup in a row where I've found 0. Smoke-free beaches work!)

The first piece of trash I saw walking out onto the beach was...

Sometimes I start composing my post for the day in my head while collecting trash. In general, it occurred to me that I want to emphasize more alternatives to single-use plastic convenience items, so that you feel empowered to make choices that affect positive change in the environment. 

Let's start with plastic bags.
Replace them with cotton, or vinyl reusable bags. Both materials are easy to wash and durable!

Instead of making the same point as I did above, let's move on to plastic water bottles. 
I collected two this night. 

A stainless steel water bottle can be filled up at home, sanitized after you've drunk out of it, and used again. Filling up water at home will also save you money since most bottled water is taken from a municipal source already coming out of your tap and sold back to you anyway.

Here's a non-liter addition to tonight's list - natural sunscreen. Yes, stop by your local health food store or natural beauty supply store for chemical free sunscreen. There are natural alternatives that don't pollute the ocean, and are better for your health. Many natural alternatives can be found in main-stream pharmacies in the natural products section. Chemical exposure on your skin, and into our oceans is more costly than the initial price bump you may find when switching over. Try Burt's Bees.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 284 - May 24, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
4.8 pounds
1,055.9 pounds total 
0 cigarette butts!

Good news for the ocean! Like I mentioned in earlier posts, LA City Council voted to draft a City-Wide Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance. Over twenty-five news organizations and blogs picked up the story. 

Here's a selection if you'd like to read up on the latest news concerning the largest City-Wide ban to move forward in the USA. Congratulation Clean Seas Coalition and Heal the Bay!

"Californians use 12 billion plastic bags a year and that less than 5% of the state’s plastic bags are recycled."

A few weeks ago, I emailed President Obama inviting him to come body surfing with us at Tower 26 in Ocean Park. Right at the top of the is an open invitation to, "Submit Your Comments and Questions Online. President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history. That begins with taking comments and questions from you, the public, through our website." It was a thoughtful sentiment, but how seriously would they take my body surfing invite? Turns out, very!

I checked my email from the beach parking lot this morning after I got out of the water. Jumping up and down, I read the following aloud to two of my friends. 

"Dear Sara Bayles: 

Thank you for inquiring about an opportunity to join President Obama for a morning of body-surfing.

President Obama values the goodwill and engagement of all those who contact the White House. However, the constraints of his schedule and the
 volume of inquiries are such that the majority of requests must be declined. We have reviewed your request, and we unfortunately cannot arrange for a morning of body-surfing with the President.
Thank you for your interest in including the President in your plans. We appreciate your understanding.  


The White House Office of Appointments and Scheduling"

There was a one in a billion chance he'd actually come down and catch some waves with us.  But I will say I'm still super pleased that the White House responded. And I like to imagine that there's some small chance the President got to see the email I sent and got a good chuckle out of it. If not him, maybe  an aide who then decided the request was sincere and quirky enough to respond to. 

Whatever happened  to warrant an email response, I am totally STOKED! 

I'll keep waving to Marine 1 as it flies over our little shore break in Santa Monica the next time President Obama comes to LA, and maybe, just maybe there will be an opening in his schedule to join us! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 283 - May 22, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
2.7 pounds
1,051.1 pounds total 

7 cigarettes

Miscellaneous plastic film was tangled throughout all the seaweed along the beach last night. Conditions like this make for a painstaking 20 minutes, picking and sorting amongst the bundles of debris. I also grabbed a baseball sized wad of plastic from the ocean this morning. 

A woman emailed me about another website that's found inspiration from Wallace J Nichols. I dedicated Day 282 to him. He's certainly one of my ocean heroes. And BROWN SURF GIRL has highlighted his work as well, from the Blue Mind summit to PLUCKFASTIC, he works tirelessly for his employer - the ocean. 

This plastic bag was waiting for me in the parking lot last night at the end of my 20 min. cleanup. 

Los Angeles City Council voted to draft a city-wide plastic bag ban today. This is HUGE! Congratulations to Heal the Bay, and the Clean Seas Coalition who've put countless hours into making this happen. LA is the largest city in the nation to take this step.

Here's the overview of the progress made today in THE LA TIMES

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 282 - May 17, 2012

lifeguard 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
2.5 pounds 
1,048.4 pounds total

3 cigarette butts

This post is dedicated to an ocean hero of mine, Dr. Wallace J Nichols, known affectionately by all who meet him as J. He's worked for the ocean for decades. 

This is not an exaggeration. He is a marine biologist who's done ground breaking research on sea turtles. He's on staff as a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences and is the founder of 

He's harnessing social media and an inclusive philosophy to spread the motto - 

His goal is to disseminate one blue marble through the hands of everyone on this planet as a symbol of gratitude for our ocean (we look like a blue marble from space.) When you get a marble, you pass it on with gratitude and do one good deed for the ocean 
before you ask the next person in the chain to do the same. In short, this man rocks!

Here's why this day is dedicated to him. 
About ten minutes into last night's beach cleanup, a surfer going out at sunset stopped me to say thank you, and then continued, "It's just a brain thing, but as I was coming out here and I saw what you were doing (picking up trash) I thought the word devotion could be broken down into DEV-OCEAN. And I thought, what you're doing, that's DEV-OCEAN." I smiled and said thank you. 
But when I think of DEV-OCEAN, I think of J instantly. 

This surfer had a creative, new thought looking at the ocean. It is a brain thing! And J is putting together professional symposiums to illustrate this very point!

He's having another BlueMind summit where top-notch Marine Scientists, Ocean Explorers and Neuroscientists will gather on the Grand Banks in June to discuss the positive effects the ocean has on us, and our brain chemistry. 

One main goal is to harness this for successful conservation of this blue planet we all so dearly love. 

Here's a great PSA about J and his family by Nautica showing their DEV-OCEAN. I found it inspiring, I bet you will too. After watching, maybe pass on that inspiration today in your own way. 

A recent TEDx talk in Monterey by J

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 281 - May 15, 2012

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
3.5 pounds
1,045.9 pounds total 

5 cigarette butts

A shred of non-descript plastic film packaging poking up from the sand like a young plant shoot in sandy soil, except plants don't grow up from the beach like weeds, 
and plastic doesn't belong in the sand.

A jellyfish, or plastic takeout lid? I think you know.

I showed a new friend this view of Santa Monica last night. She's moving to the mega-tropolis that is LA, and after only a few hours in Santa Monica she might well move here. Santa Monica is special. I see it bathed in golden light most nights I'm out on a beach cleanup, but looking at it next to some one witnessing it for the first time, makes me appreciate it anew. 

As we finished up, Swan remarked how clean it was. But after weighing our collection of trash for the night she added, "Clean except for all of that." The trash mixed into the sand and strewn along the tide line is insidious. It's easy to dismiss sometimes, but it's there just the same. 



I dedicate my early mornings to body surfing. While out on Monday, a tide had come in bringing natural and man-made detritus. The debris choked the impact zone (shallow water just off the beach). I mean it was Pea Soup. While out surfing, I shoved many plastic bags up the arms of my wetsuit. But once I got out, that's when I noticed the immensity of the plastic problem. 

(the flip-flop is mine, shoved into the photo for a sense of scale)





Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day 280 - May 12, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
6.5 pounds
1,042.4 pounds total 

11 cigarette butts

Maybe beach-goers were celebrating twins, or the as yet to be revealed gender of a pregnant friend...whatever the cause for celebration, these innocent looking ribbons made from durable plastic, once in the water, can wrap around wildlife, ending up in death or disfigurement. 

I found 11 cigarette filters tonight. Most of them are striped of their paper, looking like they've taken more than a tumble before washing ashore again. Danielle of It Starts With Me finds hundreds on her North Carolina beach in the same amount of time - 20 minutes. Check out her blog to see the cigarette butt comparison we're doing. You can join us! Just leave me a comment if you're interested. 


An elegant white Egret fished the shallow surf again tonight. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 279 - May 8, 2012

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

13 cigarette butts

I keep thinking about the juvenile Sunfish floating in the water yesterday morning. My friends circled the large floating fish. Was it a bird? A...? Behind them, a sea lion arched through the water. The thought bubble over its head could have read, "Oh no!!! The humans have my fish!" There's a talk on TED by a Marine Biologist who studies these strange beasties who get to be a few hundred pounds each. She's hilarious in her presentation, pointing out one fun fact that sea lions like to rip the fins off the young Sunfish and throw them around like a football, or Frisbee. Sounds gruesome. Didn't think I'd see one up close, well I kept some distance thank you. Goes to show, the ocean is full of surprises. 

I've had my fill of finding these. Once a cleanup it seems, I stumble upon a Snickers wrapper. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Day 278 - May 4, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
4.1 pounds
1,030.5 pounds total 

11 cigarette butts

My friend Danielle who writes the blog, "It Starts With Me" found 105 cigarette butts during her last 20 min. beach cleanup in Wrightsville Beach, N.C.. Last night when I picked up 11 cigarettes I felt like that was a lot for one twenty minute cleanup session. It's helpful to have comparisons. Smoking is banned on the beach in Santa Monica, but not in North Carolina. She's working on changing that. Let's help her. Count the butts you find next time you're strolling on the sand by your home. Send us the info. and let us know if smoking is banned on your beach, or not.

The water temperature is on the rise, the days are lengthening and my cardio needs to catch up with the new conditions. This morning five or so pelicans flew by in formation, two dolphins rose just past a ten-year-old boy on his board, a sea lion slipped between us all, and my friends bobbed in the waves around me. This is my picture of happiness. 

I saw more sea birds and marine life in the water this morning than all seven days in Honduras combined. We've done a lot of traveling over the last year and a half. There's "no place like home" for me, and protecting it means more to me now than ever. Thing is, we're all connected. What's happening in the Gulf, in the Caribbean, in the remote reaches of the Pacific impacts the California coastline. 

What can I do? This is a question we must all answer for ourselves. I compulsively pick up trash, take photographs of the good, the bad, and the ugly, write down my thoughts, and pass it along to you. Catch.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day 277 - May 3, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
5.6 pounds
1,026.4 pounds collected total

6 cigarette butts

Pairs of White Egrets have cruised the surf for the last couple of days 
for fish, crabs, and other Egret snacks. 

I wonder if they eat jellyfish? If they do, perhaps plastic bags 
like the one above become an enticing meal. 

A developing story from coastal Peru disturbs me. Hundreds of Pelicans and other varieties of marine life have died. Scientists struggle to find out the cause, and some suppose it's a virus wiping them out. In one article I read, pollution buildup in the birds and dolphins could make them more vulnerable to whatever stand of disease is targeting that area. 

Between pieces of trash

my attention swung back to the Egrets again and

again until the sun slipped off the bottom of the sky and it was time for me to go home for dinner.