Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 300 - June 28, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
5.5 pounds
1,133.7 pounds total
8 cigarette butts

Last night was my 300th beach cleanup. I have to say, it felt like a huge milestone. There have been times over the last three years that I wanted to call it quits. Wondering if it mattered if I finished, we all know what's out there, how many freakin' times can I write about, or pick up a plastic bag?! You get the idea. But with 65 collections left to go, I am so SO SO glad I stuck it out. It is important to meet my goal, to continue to share these images with you, to finish what I set out to do. 

I've said it before, but beach cleanups alone are not a viable answer to getting this junk (mostly plastic) out of our ocean. However, it was the first way I felt compelled to act. That initial action to cleanup the stretch of sand at the end of our street catapulted me into learning about ocean health, plastic pollution, and so much more. 

I've changed my habits because of these beach cleanups. I'm pretty sure I still drank water from plastic bottles when I began. I can't remember the last time I did that, or baught one. Why? Personally, I know too much about the tainted water inside. I learned about that because I got sick of picking them off the sand and wanted to know more. There are only so many times you can retrieve stranded plastic water bottles before that's the last thing you'd reach for in a convienence store. Infact, I try to stay clear of all plastic bottled beverages. I changed because of my direct experience with them on beach cleanups. 

That's one way I do believe beach cleanups are effective. Most of you will never do 300 of them, but you will do a few. If you're reading this blog, you're probably already into ocean conservation and perhaps love the beach. And in those few beach cleanups that you'll do, you may experience a shift in your own habits as a result of finding discarded plastic detritus from our modern life spoiling a place that you love, harming animals you'd rather protect, and endangering our natural world for future generations. 

trash collected for 20 min. 
2.5 pounds collected
965.8 pounds total 

We gave this 2012 bottle of bubbles to a five-year-old passing us on the boardwalk. He promised not to leave it on the sand when he was finished playing with the unopened container of soapy fun. 

A big thank you to Marrisa who called to me from the parking lot as I passed, "Are you doing a beach cleanup? Can I come?" She'd driven down to 26 to surf, but it was blown out, that is to say - unsurfable. Instead, we took to the sand together. Kismet. Instant friends. We know people in common, and share a love of the ocean. Thanks for coming out Marrisa, you brightened my day too. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 299 - June 26, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
5.3 pounds
2 cigarette butts

I thought it might be fun to call this 800 number and tell them "how they're doing" with their plastic packaging. It's their customers, not the company leaving their empties behind, right? Well, EPR - Extended Producer Responsibility - asks companies to be responsible for the life of their products from creation to disposal. Here's a more precise definition. 

Should we call "Mickey D's" and ask them if they've heard of it?

My friend Alfonso wrote an Op-Ed piece on the recycling, or lack of, during the Rio+20 Summit. As an Environmental Consultant living in Rio concerned about Plastic Pollution, 
his view point is informed and well thought out. 

My friend Danielle is back on the beach after a couple weeks of a hectic schedule. 
She finds hundreds of cigarettes on her 20 min. beach cleanups in the south. I found two tonight. 
Guess which of our two beaches bans cigarette smoking?

Another summer night where my bag was full to bursting after 20 min. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 298 - June 23, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
2.2 pounds
1,122.9 pounds total 

2 cigarette butts

As Mark, Kit and I walked from the surf to the showers this morning Mark kicked up a bottle cap and said, "If I had a nickel for every plastic bottle cap I've picked up, I'd probably have a hundred dollars." I bet he'd have more. I wonder how much I'd have scraped together from 298 beach cleanups?

Mylar balloon as abstract shell form. 

People comment that my trash pictures are beautiful. I remember one email in particular from my friend Judy. "Boy, you sure make that trash look good." Uh-oh, I thought. But even a photo like this makes the point that this synthetic balloon is out of place...
in a creative boy-that-balloon-looks-cool kind of a way...

7:45. Summer. Wonderful.

Day 297 - June 22, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
5.2 pounds
1,120.7 pounds total 

There were many abandoned sand toys left out last night, improvisational ones like this plastic container and the colorful made for castle forming variety. For the third or fourth time this month my bag was full to bursting at the twenty minute mark. I'd be carrying my trash bounty away with me if I didn't adhere to the 20 min. limit...

Happy Birthday to my friend Danielle who writes the blog, "It Starts With Me." If you've checked out The Daily Ocean before, you've seen me link to her site multiple times. She keeps me inspired. We are doing a cigarette butt comparison for our respective 20 min. beach cleanups. I only found 3 tonight where she usually finds 300 on her N.C. beach and that's no exageration. 

So Happy Birthday Danielle. As our friend Mark and I walked along last night, he reminded me it was your B-Day. We thought of you and knew you were with us in spirit! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 296 - June 21, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
3 pounds
1,115.5 pounds total 

2 cigarette butts

As I'm out on a cleanup, people walk right up to, and past the trash I'm approaching. I don't curse them in my mind, but I do wonder how they could pass by without bending down to pick it up? Another question usually follows; did they even see the plastic bottle in the first place? My hope is that The Daily Ocean helps people first see, and then act, question, and change. 

Styrofoam cups will be around long after the sand castles they helped build melt into the sea.

This cup left behind may be intact for now.

But give it time, and it will break down into smaller and smaller pieces. These pieces become fish and bird food, absorb toxins, polluting the environment and eventually our own bodies. Fish eat broken-down plastics that have absorbed toxins, the toxins then dissolve into the fish's tissue, we eat the fish along with the dose of toxins it now carries. 

It' hard to imagine the environmental threats the ocean faces when out on a day like this. But overfishing, plastic pollution and global warming are three problems stressing our Blue Planet to the max. See the PEW report from the Rio+20 Summit that concludes tomorrow. How did the oceans fare? Sue Lieberman, PEW Director of International Policy reports - 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 295 - June 20, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
1.5 pounds
1,112.5 pounds total

2 cigarette butts

The beach was blissfully clean tonight. I got to the parking lot after they'd closed the gate so I had to ditch my car in street parking and sprint over to the sand before I lost all of the sunlight. Eight o'clock in late June there's still enough light to get down for a cleanup, but once the sun slips behind the Santa Monica Mountains I'm out of luck since I don't use a flash for my photographs. You can guess how close I cut it last night considering there are only two photos up in this post...

Yesterday was International Surfing Day. I'm not sure who claimed it as such, but Surfrider came out in the morning and did a beach cleanup. Maybe that's why at the end of the day, except for this balloon, I got to walk along smiling at the clean sand. Sure, there was still some trash to be collected but only a pound and a half for a summer's night is pretty darn good. I left the beach with a smile. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 294 - June 17, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
3.5 pounds
1,111 pounds total 

3 cigarette butts

As I walked onto the sand, this plastic bag blew straight at me. That's my foot, stopping its run to the parking lot. I guess if this urban tumbleweed is going to take flight, I'd rather it head for the concrete behind me. 

My friend Kit gave me an LA Times insert called, "Water Stewardship." Surfer Rob Machado is one of the stewards interviewed. Here's a fact he relayed that if I'd read, I'd forgotten and may impact your choice to reach for a plastic bottle of water next time you're thirsty. 

"A little secret on plastic bottles is that it takes about 6 gallons of water to create each bottle of water, and that only 20% of those bottles are ever recycled." 

My friend Harry from The Flotsam Diaries blog does a great job demystifying recycling, or what we assume happens when we "recycle." Carreful, reading his posts are much like taking the blue pill in the Matrix....or is it the red pill. It's been awhile since I've seen the movie. But you get the implied idea, there's no turning back once you know...

For the first time since I started The Daily Ocean over three years ago, I crossed paths with another beach cleaner-upper while out on my collection. The first time you say? Yes, as far as I can remember I've never come face-to-face with someone out on the beach with a shared mission at sunset. 

As he walked toward me and I saw him bending in the sand collecting what I hoped was trash and not just sand dollars, my excitement grew. As he passed me, his plastic bag filled with trash in hand, I asked if he was cleaning the beach. He said yes, and asked me if I was too. 

Here's what cracks me up. All I could do is say yes, and thank you. I've engaged dozens of people on the beach who stop to talk to me. I tell them the name of my blog, I tell them how many pounds I've collected between two measly lifeguard towers (1,1111 lbs. to date), I chat. Tonight I was strangely tongue-tied. With a grin spreading ear to ear I contemplated calling it a night. He'd done the job. But then my curiosity told me to back track over the stretch of beach he'd just covered to see what he might have missed, or if more had washed up. Not as a critique of his cleanup, but as an excercise to see just how much crap is out here on a Sunday night. Sunday being a big beach day in the summer.

Tonight's 3.5 pounds of trash came from a stretch of sand cleaned moments before....

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 293 - June 15, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
11 pounds
1,107.5 pounds total

0 cigarette butts

June Gloom is what the locals call this month. A heavy marine layer blankets our coast for a few weeks, making sunset seem like it's an hour before its time. 

After twenty minutes my bag was too full to continue even if I didn't adhere to a time limit. Gloomy would be one word I'd use to describe how I felt walking off the beach with 11 pounds of junk in less than half and hour.

I've avoided posting about last night's cleanup today mostly because it makes me revisit the dirty fact of 11 pounds in 20 minutes twice. My husband Garen reminded me that a post like this is even more urgent to share. This sentiment summarizes what I thought about while walking our dogs tonight. 

In the face of such an overwhelming problem (plastic pollution and trash in our oceans) action can only inspire change. The how, when, and who of which are largely out of my hands. But still, taking action has to be enough sometimes. This shot of our beach doesn't capture the bits of plastic wrapping and bags tangled in every inch of the seaweed washed ashore. 
I was too busy picking it up to get better pictures tonight. 

Three people stopped to talk to me because the trash was so noticeable, 
as if I would know the reason why. And there are so many reasons, 
too many variables for one short post, 
but the take home point is this, we connected person to person. 

I connect with you person to person whenever you read one of my posts. 
I'd like to think that each time this happens, a spark of change can occur. 

I stuffed this in the leg of my wetsuit yesterday morning while body-surfing. Lots of trash on the beach means lots of trash in the water too. I get a double dipping of it some days. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 292 - June 13, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
8.5 pounds
1,096.5 pounds total 

0 cigarette butts

Summer is here! 

And with it, trash on the sand. There's also so much washing up on our beach right now that I cringe. My average weight per collection is 4 pounds. Tonight I doubled that and then some.

An unopened bottle of Gatorade that probably got launched overboard by accident and ended up here. 
In the recent BBC/Lonely Planet special, CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE host Dominic Bonuccelli uncapped a scavenged bottle of fruit juice taken off the bottom of Avalon Harbor in Catalina. He took a swig and lived to tell about it! 

He also hit the zip-line, taking in island vistas to steal your breath away before coming to Santa Monica. 
I met him when he came out for a Daily Ocean beach cleanup with me. 
They also stopped by Heal the Bay's Aquarium!

It was such a pleasure to be a part of TV programming making a difference. The episode gives you a taste of the natural beauty, and high octane outdoor adventure surrounding us in Southern California. But it gives you the tools and inspiration to make a difference as you travel along our awe inspiring coast. This lesson of leaving a place better than when you found it can be taken anywhere, and should. 

The program will re-air on BBC America 
- Sunday July 1, 8 AM 
- Wednesday July 11, 8 AM
- Sunday July 29, 9 AM

Over 5,000 kids attended Kids Ocean Day on Dockweiller Beach in LA. a couple of weeks ago! 

"Over 5,000 Los Angeles kids, teachers and volunteers form a massive kid designed shark and shield to say "Defend the Sea"from everyday plastic trash as part of the 19th annual Kids OceanDay Adopt-A-Beach Clean-Up sponsored by the Malibu Foundation,City of Los Angeles and the California Coastal Commission in Los AngelesJune 7, 2012. 

The kids are alerting the world about the need to protect the ocean from the everyday trash and plastic litter that flows down streets, killing marine life and polluting food resources."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 291 - June 10, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
4.8 pounds
1,088 pounds total 

1 cigarette butt

I remember when Pringles hit the market! You could eat the whole can in one sitting. 
My mouth waters thinking about it.

Yesterday a BBC & Lonely Planet special called, CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE aired. They interviewed me out on the beach doing a Daily Ocean cleanup. A big thank you to the crew and producers who represented this blog so well. It was such an honor to be a part of. 
Thank you. Thank you. 

One email that really touched me from someone who saw the show was from a woman who recently moved from San Diego to Chicago. She's missing the ocean very acutely. Once the ocean is in your blood, it is crushing to be away from, at least this holds true for me too.

After seeing the cleanup, she got inspired to do Lake shore Cleanups - Chicago is a coastal city she pointed out. I hope she gets some comfort from walking the shores there, and connecting with the Daily Ocean community here. I'm looking forward to posting her findings. Thank you Renee.

One of the major reasons I do what I do is to reach you. I love hearing from people on twitter, or FB, or on comments left here on my blog. I really enjoy answering you, connecting one person at a time. 

Hearing that you've been inspired helps me keep going. 

After all, beach cleanups in a vacuum are not the solution. I see them as a teaching tool for change. 

You can only pick up the same plastic garbage time after time before it sparks a change in you to use less, learn more, become more active and inspire those around you. Anyone can do what I do. 
That's the point and the hope!

I find way to many of these. 

Not too many of these, although they are made from the same material. Most everything I find on the beach is made from plastic. Even cigarette butts are made of plastic acetate. 

"For in the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." 
~ Baba Dioum

Day 290 - June 9, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20  min. 
4.6 pounds
1,083.2 pounds total 

0 cigarette butts

While I walked along picking up trash, a teenage couple scooped up what they could and threw it my bag. "Thank you," they said as they carried on. This is one of the only times people have actively joined me when they saw what I was up to. 

Beach cleanups alone are not the solution. An awareness arises from bending down, picking up this stuff yourself, looking at it, and throwing it "away". 
Because in the "throwing away"(only there is no away) other questions form. 

Where is all this trash going even when put in a can? (buried in landfills most likely)
How long does plastic hang around? (forever...seriously)
I use this in my everyday life and it's ending up on the beach? (ziplocks!)
Where can I buy a reusable water bottle? (after seeing half a dozen in 20 min. left on the sand)
And OK so there IS a problem with plastic grocery bags. (I find one almost every time I come out)
 I'll buy a reusable cloth one next time I'm out. (Someone in line sees you make the change.)

I rarely post the totally icky stuff I find, but these next two pictures are too timely to ignore.
While in the water the other morning, I almost inhaled a band aid into my mouth. Yuck!
Trash of all kinds floated in on the tide late last week. As is my habit, I had my mouth open for a second in the water before seeing the little plaster float by my face. 

I shared my near miss with my friend Kitt. We agreed, totally disgusting and started to joke about how at least, "you didn't inhale a condom!"

"Or a maxipad. I find those too," I said. We laughed, knowing that both of these items would be a major bummer. Somewhere in the back of my mind I felt like the possibility of either was far fetched. How odd considering I've found them before. I don't recall finding both a condom, and pad on the same 20 minute beach cleanup until tonight. The funny, or not-so-funny point being my friend and I had laughed about the horrors of encountering these items only hours before.

A mother and son stopped me while I was picking up trash with my handy trash picker. Community service and city workers use them to cleanup the parks and beach. The mother wanted to buy one for her and her son. The beach was trashed. 4.6 pounds doesn't adequately show how every time a wave receded there was another piece or two of clear plastic wrapper to pick up. 
These wrappers even when wet and sandy weigh fractions of a pound. 

My bag was full after 20 minutes and I didn't get much past Tower 26. Currents, tides, wind, ocean dynamics that are too complex for me to understand deposit more trash on the beach than you can stand to look at every once in awhile. I wished for the tides to shift, the currents to take back their plastic bounty after I finished. Seeing exactly what is "under the surface" weighs on me. 
Sometimes I'd like to look away. 
But now that I know, what's my choice?
Action feels so much better than inaction. This is one promise I can make you.