Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 336 - Sept. 26, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
2.5 pounds 
1,268.3 pounds total 

11 cigarettes

A high school student in Maui follows The Daily Ocean. She calls herself the Blue Menpachi. Cool name! She's got a blog, and does a video blog on Youtube. Here's her stunning video of the 100 pounds of trash she got during her Maui International Coastal Cleanup Day. 

"I had only three trash bags with me yesterday and I thought it was funny cause I wanted to continue cleaning but I ran out of trash bags. However, I was able to find two more plastic bags 
of sorts that was on the coastline. So it was kind of funny because 
I guess the ocean really does provide whatever you need." - the Blue Menpachi

The Blue Menpachi found a perfectly good lawn chair, a metal drawer, wood and lots of cigarette butts among the liter. She showed us how plastic gets fragile and breaks apart when 
left out in the sun and surf. This is called photodegrading. 

I appreciate her attitude while showing us the trash she found. She lets her findings do the "talking." One cardinal rule in writing fiction is the principle of show don't tell. Her efforts show us what's out there and show us how much she cares which inspires me. 

People care about the ocean. If you care, you are not alone. Together we can really make a difference. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day 335 - Sept. 23, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
3 pounds
1,265.8 pounds total

3 cigarette butts

Last night I went to hear Greg Stone, Marine Biologist/Explorer/Scuba Diver and Conservationist talk about the health of the oceans. He has an article on Sea Mounts in this month's National Geographic and had real life tales of diving into icebergs to share with us. 

The work he does now with Conservation International focuses on policy and international collaboration. 

What I really enjoyed about his talk was when he broke down why the ocean is so key to not only the health of the planet, but the health of all the people on the planet.  

For starters, the ocean is the primary source of protein for developing nations. With over 8 billion people here and 9 billion around the corner, managing the way we catch fish so they can reproduce and grow at a rate that keeps the ocean a vital food source is a really good idea. 

How can you help?

Then in the grocery store or at a restaurant you can check if the fish you want to order is caught using sustainable fishing practices and is healthy for you to eat.

It's true, LA states on their Public Works Website that you can recycle styrofoam cups in the blue bins provided by the city. So why does this photo bother me? Because I've read up on what happens to materials in the recycling waste stream. 

My friend Harry from The Flotsam Diaries lifts the veil on recycling to reveal the ugly truth that

How can you help?

Buy in bulk so there is less plastic packaging. 
Buy less plastic wrapped stuff. 
Carry a clean, reusable bag to the grocery store. 

All of these efforts make a difference. Remember, there's a whole lot of us on the planet. What if most of us changed only a little? I believe it would still make a world of difference. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Day 334 - Sept. 21, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
1.5 pounds
1,262.8 pounds total 

1 cigarette butt

I weighed frequently found trash items for a previous post and came upon the list again this week.
1.5 pounds of trash is great! Yes and no because of the weight of the litter I find. 

For example - 
A Werther's Original Candy Wrapper weighs .02 ounces
It would take 1,200 wrappers to = 1.5 pounds of trash

A plastic single-use bag weighs .25 ounces 
(yes, they are often heavier on the beach given the water and sand)
It would still take around 96 bags to = 1.5 pounds 

And remember, all the trash I report about here is found in only 20 min. 



Thanks to my friend Mark for keeping me company on yet another cleanup. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Day 333 - Sept. 20, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
1.5 pounds 
1,261.3 pounds total 

6 cigarettes

There's a cool new site that shares old and new remedies for preventing chronic illness called - 


There's a direct connection between a healthy body and a healthy ocean.
Check out their site for interesting video and inspiring content to take better care of your body. 

Health starts with us and spreads to the whole planet. 

I'm almost in countdown mode with 32 beach cleanups to go, but this is not an end to The Daily Ocean. I'm looking at a computer monitor for many more minutes a day than normal in preparation for the next phase. It's bitter-sweet getting closer to my 365th beach cleanup goal. But once I'm done, I'm eager to get off the sand and come meet you during my -

speaking tour for schools and businesses. 

Let me know if you'd like me to come to your school, town or business. 

This plastic wrapper held some kind of fast food. 
If we all packed a quick snack from home in a reusable container or grabbed a piece of fruit, we'd buy less products that leave a plastic trace for years and years to come. 

Even if we did this once a week, there'd still be a positive impact for you and the environment. 

Once a week? Really? Come on...
Yes, really!

You may find my point idealistic or even a little silly, but for example - in Santa Monica there are about  90,000 people living here next to the ocean. 

If we all bought one less plastic wrapped snack product a week -


Like my friend Danielle often reminds us with her blog IT STARTS WITH ME. 
"Everything we do or don't do has an impact on the world, it starts with me and ripples to you."

Day 332 - Sept. 19, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
5 pounds
1,259.8 pounds total 

21 cigarette butts

This week I upgraded my operating system on my Mac Desktop. It can't even open Safari on a predictable basis now. I'm so very close to finishing my beach cleanup goal and my trusty computer where I store all my images is acting very strange. I'm backing it all up, but can't sit down to post without major glitches. Why oh why did I want to get iCloud? Everything was running so smoothly just a few days ago. Being the reluctant techie that I am, I didn't read reviews of OS X before downloading that baby onto all my machines are really messing it all up. Sigh. 
An inside look at the trails of maintaining an almost daily blog.

I'm reading NO IMPACT MAN as research for turning The Daily Ocean into a book as well. During his early weeks of his make-no-environmental-impact experiment while living in the middle of NYC with a wife and toddler, he approached a press office at a big environmental organization.

"I told her I was trying to figure out how to live a no-impact life in New York City and that all the information seemed confusing. "Yeah," she said, "we're good at scaring people, but we haven't gotten good yet at telling them what to do." She promised to email me some guidance but never did."

I hope that when you visit The Daily Ocean you get the solutions I offer as well.
Here's one off the top of my head.

1. See too many pictures of the same item on different cleanups again and again? Try using less of this item in your own life. For example - too many water bottles lying in the sand? Go ahead and switch to a reusable one. You'll save money, and drink healthier water. What's good for your wallet is good for the ocean.

Before you get all yeah-yeah-yeah what's that going to do to stop the giant trash vortex in the ocean from growing? 

Change happens through different kinds of applied effort. We need non-profits, legislative lobbying for stronger environmental protection, but we also need you. We need you and me to encourage each other to create healthier lifestyles so that our oceans can get healthier with us. It's a win-win all the way around. We can do it together. Person to person with kindness and inspiration I know we can create a healthier environment for our families, pets, and in turn for our big blue planet. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 331 - Sept. 17, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
3 pounds 
1,254.8 pounds total

I've said this recently, but it's important to repeat. One of the ways I think that beach cleanups make an impact is the experiential learning taking place as you do it. There's a kinesthetic connection between picking up empty plastic water bottles off the sand and reaching for one the next time you are in the store. It had this effect on me. I am sure I still drank plenty of bottled water when I started this project. I am sure I stopped because I saw too many empty containers, learned more about the quality of water in them, and some of the myths surrounding plastic recycling.

How do I take that message to more people? Just last Monday someone told me that because of all the plastic water bottle photos on The Daily Ocean she thought twice when reaching to purchase some and didn't. That's music to my ears. Delivering a message in a way people can hear it. 

Would telling people to stop buying bottled water work? Making them feel bad? No. I call this "Green Shame" when someone feels guilty for a way they perceive to be environmentally unfriendly. I love the ocean. I have loved the beach my whole life. I didn't switch from drinking bottled water until I found too many empties on the beach. Is it possible that there are other ocean lovers out there that given a message they can hear would switch in their own time, and do so from inspiration rather than from being told to? I think so. 

Heal the Bay's Coastal Cleanup Day last Sat. spanned 56 miles of coastline and extracted 38,598 pounds of trash from California. If you enjoyed coming out on Sat. join Heal the Bay every third Sat. for their monthly cleanups. 

Heal the Bay says that cigarette butts, plastic bottles and caps, snack-food packaging, plastic bags and Styrofoam fragments were some of the most common items found. I covered almost every item on their list just in this one post. I'd agree that these items are pervasive in all my cleanups. 

If you bought less of any of these convenience items you'd save money, and get healthier. 
What's healthy for your body and wallet is healthy for the ocean. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Day 330 - Sept. 15, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
9 pounds (a wet sneaker and plastic bottle full of sand contributed to this)
1,251.8 pounds total

3 cigarette butts

The night after Coastal Cleanup Day and I collected nine pounds of trash in 20 minutes. I share this not to discourage those who came out but to illuminate a need for continuous action. 

Here are three things you can do to address all the trash flowing into the ocean:


Do more beach cleanups! Come out with me! I go out 3 - 4 times a week. Here's how to join me. Or do one on your own and email me about it. Surfrider and Heal the Bay also do monthly cleanups. Physically picking up the same items over and over made me reach for them less often in my own life.

2. BUY AND USE A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE - If you did only one thing to help the ocean, this is it. You'll save money. You'll drink healthier water. (Brita Filters are great if you are worried about the quality of your tap water)


Think of a creative way to spread the message for cleaner oceans to your friends and family. You have permission to act on your own. Not everyone will end up starting a blog, or non-profit, but you probably have a camera in your phone, you have access to free social media (blogspot blogs like this one are free) and you have great ideas. Take 20 minutes and brainstorm how you could use your creativity, passion and determination to inspire people. I started The Daily Ocean with one beach cleanup. What could you do? Start your own Daily Ocean blog. Ideas are free. I share mine. Leave me a comment and tell me yours. 


Maia - Community Count 8th Grader for clean oceans

 Maia's school 

Maia, an 8th grader from Ct., emailed me to get involved. She's written a report on plastics in our ocean. I asked her to tell me what got her interested in this topic, and what's a next step for her now that she knows. Here are her answers.


I became interested in this topic because of the fact that I have
always wanted to be a marine biologist since the first time I stepped
foot on the beach. 

After a while I realized just what a huge issue
pollution is causing for local beachs, not only just making them look
unappealing, but causing the waters that people swim in everyday turn
an ugly shade of grey. 

Another reason I became interested in this
topic was because of the fact that sometimes I even see people just
throwing their trash out the windows of theirs cars, and seeing
seagulls attempt to swallow said trash. 

I always feel awful when i see
birds and other animals suffocating and slowly dying on trash, while
their is little I can do to save that particular animal I can reach
out to my community and inform them of what is going on around us.


My next step to help end pollution for good is to put posters on
trash cans on the beach and around my school explaining just why they
shouldn't pollute and how one small action can make a huge impact.

Maia is on to a key idea. One small action - sending me an email - got her message out to you. 

You will take this message and share it with others, won't you?

Maia's beach

Maia's report on plastics in the ocean: thanks for a great report!!

Plastic bags, broken bottles, crayons, even appliances slowly float in
the ocean current. That’s what the worlds’ oceans will look like if we
continue littering and polluting. There are two kinds of polluting;
chemical pollution and physical trash.

    Chemical pollution is inside almost every marine animal on the
planet, from plankton; to pink salmon; to polar bears it affects even
us humans when we eat our sushi and shark fin soup. Chemical pollution
can come in many forms, one of the most common being runoff from farms
and cities. Some chemicals that are in the runoff are fertilizer, lawn
care supplies, and other household products. 

The thing that sets
fertilizer apart is the fact that once it gets into the oceans it
causes a reaction called eutrophication; it’s when the nutrients in
the fertilizer causes the algae blooms to flourish and it then
depletes the surrounding water of all it oxygen making it
uninhabitable for other marine life such as fish and other types of
seaweed. Oil spills are also a part of chemical pollution, but only
account for 12% of all the oil that makes its way into the sea. The
other 36% is from cars exhausts and street runoff/storm drains. 80%of
all the urban sewage discharged into the Mediterranean Sea is left

Until the 1970’s people were allowed to dump almost
anything into the ocean; things like toxic waste, chemical weapons,
and radioactive material, were dumped on a regular basis.  In 1972
dumping most toxic materials into the sea was banned worldwide,  but
in 1996 they further restricted what could be dumped.
  Physical garbage is also a massive issue in the world. Soda six-pack
rings pose a problem every day; they choke penguins in Antarctica and
dolphins in South America. However the worst criminals are the helium
balloon and plastic bag, these items are found blocking the airways
and stomachs of seals, whales, dolphins, and turtles who mistake them
for their favorite snack of jelly fish. But that’s not all; they even
get caught on coral reefs, killing them. Sharks all over have been
found with numerous types of trash in their stomachs, from tin cans to
license plates, they take a bite out of everything.

Garbage and pollution are everywhere but just one small action can make a big impact.

Coastal Cleanup Day

Coastal Cleanup Day - Sept. 15, 2012

Venice Beach, CA - South of the pier

trash collected by over 110 volunteers

160+ pounds collected in 3 hours

Heal the Bay and Surfrider teamed up to facilitate a well organized beach cleanup. Juli Shultz, a longtime member of Surfrider, really did the lion's share. Thanks Juli. Kathryn Benz from Heal the Bay also pitched in all day. A professor from Otis College of Art and Design joined us with a few of her students. I had fun talking to the volunteers, meeting 8th graders from Sylmar, and high school students from Hamilton as they came back to weigh their findings. 

No surprise that they found the usual suspects - plastic bottles, cigarette butts, straws, plastic food wrappers, bottles and cans, and assorted misc. gross items. 

All in all we weighed in around 160 pounds. That's just over a pound per person. 

At noon we broke down the tents and sorted the trash. I'm thrilled that over 160 pounds of trash got taken off the beach, but as we left it in bags for the city of Venice to dispose of, I was reminded that beach cleanups displace trash, they don't get rid of it. I've wished for a Harry Potter wand to make it all disappear, but what happens to this plastic litter is that it gets moved to the dump where it remains a problem. 

Yes, the trash is off the beach I love, out of the water, and away from the animals, but it is far from out of sight out of mind. Beach cleanups raise awareness for how much liter is generated from our rabid culture of convenience. 

Take it off the sand, and then take it out of your life. 

What's good for your health, and your pocket book 
(you save money buying less snacks and drinks out on the go) 
is good for the environment too. 

You are the environment and the environment is a reflection of you. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Day 329 - Sept. 14, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
1.3 pounds
1,242.8 pounds total 

3 cigarette butts

I gave a ten year old boy digging with his friends this shovel. 
"It's free?" he said. 
"Yup, just don't leave it on the sand when you go." 

The nation's largest volunteer day on the planet!  
Join us, join the thousands of people who spread out coast-to-coast, up rivers, and down streams to take out the pollution fouling up our waterways. 

I'll be at Venice with Surfrider, the Rise Above Plastics crew and you? 

I thought I'd snagged the best shot. A styrafoam cup sticking out of the sand with the sun setting just right. Notice the pair of legs in the background? That's the kid who looked confused as I held my camera close to the cup of little crabbies he'd carefully collected. He was sweet enough not to freak when I dumped them out to put this nasty cup in my bag. 
"Is this yours?" I asked as little wriggling bug-like crabs crawled about and I finally noticed the kid staring at me. 
"Yeah," he said. 
"These guys like a little water in the sand." I held up the cup. He turned to the ocean and scooped up a few handfuls into the white plastic foam that I usually loath. 
"Make sure this cup doesn't get left on the beach," I said and scrunched it down into the sand for him.
"OK," he said as he turned back to the water and the warm late summer sunset.

Just last Tuesday at Blue Drinks I shared how I'd seen so many kids playing with plastic Starbucks, or styrafoam cups to make sand castles. These items I saw as toxic trash helped form their summertime memories at the beach. When I go to schools, how do I make sure that they don't feel ashamed when they hear my message? How do I make sure I don't taint their memories, memories of the beach that I too have and in part make me do what I do? I don't have the answer yet, but I am going to take time to figure out how to encourage change instead of make kids like this boy feel guilty for a golden Sept. evening on the beach. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 328 - Sept. 12, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
1.1 pounds
1,241.5 pounds total 

7 cigarettes

As I approach beach cleanup 365 of The Daily Ocean it's obvious that I've used creativity, passion and determination to carry a message and a call to action for cleaner oceans. These last three and a half years have transformed me. I know I can affect the world in a positive way. 
It started with one little cleanup and some brainstorming. 

My challenge to you is - can you take 20 min. this week and think of a specific talent you have that could contribute to a cleaner ocean and a healthier planet? 

20 min. to dream
20 min. to stand up for your family and for the planet

What would you do if you felt like you had more time?
What would you do if you believed in yourself and your abilities? 

I know you too are passionate, intelligent, capable, and willing to work hard. I know that your contribution matters, I know you like me undervalue what you have to say.


(leave me a comment if you'd like to share what you come up with. I'd love to hear from you!)