Friday, October 31, 2014

Inspiration to change the world from Austria

Liana emailed me a link to her class film project this week. She took on the topic of plastics in the ocean and overflowing in our landfills. Her message is simple and super inspiring. Great work Liana! If a high school student in Austria can see this clearly, there's hope for change. Please pass along.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sept. 28, 2014 - Beach Cleanup #378

beach cleanup #378
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
2.5 pounds tonight
1,396.1 pounds total 

A whole month slipped by between cleanups! I am still figuring out how to be a new mom with enough energy to do anything once I put little Willow to bed. Luckily, the sunsets are earlier and earlier. It felt great to be out. It felt great to get less than 3 pounds of trash when my average is 4. 

BLUE MIND by Wallace J Nichols is out and on the NYT Bestselling list! 
"...HOW BEING IN, ON, OR NEAR WATER CAN MAKE YOU HAPPIER, HEALTHIER AND BETTER AT WHAT YOU DO." There is an online book group reading it together. Find it on FB at #BLUEMIND J is leading the discussions.

I KNOW I am happier for getting in the ocean this morning and for seeing the sun set Sunday night. In fact, I had a brainstorming session after I took this picture for a story that may be pretty darn good. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

August 24 - Beach Cleanup #377

beach cleanup #377
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
2.6 pounds tonight
1,393.6 pounds total

One plastic item I found as much as water bottles are single use plastic bags. The CA State bill (#SB270) to ban these bags statewide is coming up for a vote in the Senate today. Would you like to help? If you use twitter please copy and tweet:

@SenLouCorrea will you be a voice for a cleaner, greener #California and say #YesOnSB270 so we can #BanTheBag?

We don't do this alone. You may have noticed that my weight for tonight is about half of what I normally get. A man who went by me faster than I could stop and thank, picked up a significant amount of trash off of the beach when I got there last Sunday. 

This morning, I met two women who started a MEETUP to pick up trash from the beach. What a great idea! Maybe you want to start one in your area. I said thank you and we got talking. So many people care about the ocean. Sometimes this reminder is just what I need to keep going. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 18, 2014 - Beach Cleanup #376

beach cleanup #376
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
4.9 pounds tonight
1391 pounds total

A familiar scene in the summer...

My husband was in Hawaii doing research for 2+ weeks, I went to a four day writing conference, and then took care of our baby Willow until he got home late last week. All of this is to say that motherhood takes precedent (happily) in my life. AND It felt good to get back out onto the sand while Garen put her to bed at 7:00 p.m. on Monday night.

I only collected two plastic water bottles! Two is not as good as none, but better than the many I find.

While Garen was at HIMB he learned from whale researchers there that whales close their ears when they emit their loud songs and sonar. Some sounds whales make are as loud as navy sonar tests! SO why doesn't it hurt them? Well, they "plug" their ears first. What if the navy sent a test "beep" before the big blast? Would this "heads up" serve as a warning for the whales and dolphins in the area to literally cover their ears, and therefor spare them the pain, disorientation, and death that comes from our naval sonar testing? Researchers are working to convince the government to adapt their testing based on their findings. How cool!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 29, 2014 - Beach Cleanup #375

beach cleanup #375
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
4.4 pounds tonight
1,386.1 pounds total

It was so exciting! I hadn't found ANY empty plastic water bottles until I spotted this one, and then another and then 3,4,5,6 in all. I'm doing better making sure all of my beverages on-the-go come in glass containers in the last few weeks. I've passed my favorite coconut water several times by now and resisted. It might seem strange to read that last sentence if you've just found The Daily Ocean. The thing is, do you know where the packaging for your disposable products goes when you're done? I know I'd never leave my plastic coconut water bottle on the beach but would it go for a long ride on a container ship to another country? Say what?

THE STORY OF BOTTLED WATER VIDEO illustrates just such a journey

Styrofoam cups make great cheap sand castle molds. They are flexible, and well, cheap. 
But they make poor bird and fish food. Broken down into tiny fragments, the small pieces look exactly like fish eggs, a favorite food for many fish. I've seen too many cups such as these with bird beak scrapings all down the side, and holes torn through. 

The SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Authors and Illustrators) Summer Conference starts tomorrow. I feel like a big kid brimming with excitement that I get to go!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 21, 2014 - Beach Cleanup #374

beach cleanup #374
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
4.5 pounds tonight
1,381.7 pounds total 

I had the privilege of speaking to 90 high school students at UCLA last week participating in the People to People Ambassador Program, Film and the Arts. What I love about sharing the story of The Daily Ocean is that I have to get really honest. I have to say what I believe about this complex issue of ocean health through the lens of beach cleanups, and stand by it. My audience is savvy. I have to "come clean" in the Q and A.

"So what do you do when you want a cup of coffee?" asks a student.
"If I have remembered to bring my reusable mug, that's what I use. If I am really tired, I just get a cup of coffee," I answer. And the truth is that even though I do not use bottled water in my daily life, coffee is another issue. I did not buy a plastic bottle of water this week, but...

I did use one of these. I could blame it on being a tired mommy. I could allow myself the exemption, and I do. I think sometimes that I pick up enough single use plastic trash, I'm allowed to indulge on the occasional convenience item! 

And there's the crux of it all. 

These items are so convenient that for as much energy and effort as I put into being aware of the products I use in my daily life, it is still all to easy to grab for the convenient option. I do not live a plastic packaging free life. 

A note about my photographs - the camera in my phone that I now use for cleanups (it's a timer and a camera all in one!) lays a large green dot onto my shot that I can't stand. I've been cropping it out. Cropping anything from the frame is new and now a necessity. I never cropped a shot for my entire 365 cleanups.

 I also haven't mastered the simple focus feature on my phone that makes my photos slightly blurry when I look in my computer. This really bothers me. I will make every effort to get better, or revert to my Nikon COOLPIX collecting dust in my desk drawer. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 13, 2014 - beach cleanup #373

beach cleanup #373
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
4.7 pounds tonight
1,377.2 pounds total

I track how many plastic water bottles I find on the beach by using the ONE+ONE app from my phone. After every beach cleanup I upload the data right there in the parking lot. It's a pretty cool app and community that could use your support. Here's their website. 

My six-month-old daughter Willow is playing in her portable crib beside me as I post this week's collection. I was feeling down on Sunday after facing another dirty beach scene. But when I left the sand a little kid about three years old said hi to me ten times in a row. You couldn't help but smile. Reflecting on last Sunday night's cleanup, and looking at Willow right now, I don't need another reason to trek out there next Sunday. At the risk of sounding cliched to the max, the desire for our children to enjoy the ocean like I have is a good enough reason for me to carry on. 

I'll be speaking to a group of high school students staying at UCLA over the summer tomorrow night. I'm really looking forward to sharing The Daily Ocean's story with them. I love working with students. If you would like me to come talk to your class, club, business, or organization go to for more information. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

July 10, 2014 - beach cleanup #372

beach cleanup #372
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
3 pounds tonight
1,372.5 pounds total

Community Count - Heather
1.4 pounds tonight

Daily Ocean Combined Total - 2,488.2 pounds off of beaches around the world

This week's beach cleanup came later than usual for a couple of reasons. First of all, my husband was out of town and I'm not sure how comfortable I am taking our baby Willow out for a cleanup alone, especially when mommy is picking up dirty stuff and her little immune system is only five months old. 

Second, our community had it covered. I saw this on Sunday, the night I usually go out, and was pretty psyched to see folks meeting up that morning where I do all of the daily ocean cleanups. I need to email the organizer to find out how it went!

It's difficult to come up with something new to say about plastic on the beach. I see so much of it. This morning when I was in the ocean, my hand stroked through the water and came up with pits of plastic wrappers...

What comes to mind as I ask myself why I keep doing this is that I love this place, this beach in particular, and I love the ocean, this little patch right here, and so I keep showing up to take the trash away that doesn't belong, to swim, to soak in the sun, to marvel at the sunset, and remain grateful for this big beautiful earth with all the complexities that exist here. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 29, 2014 - beach cleanup #371

beach cleanup #371
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
7 pounds tonight
1,369.5 pounds of trash off this beach total

I find many, many plastic beverage bottles of all kinds. I find too many. I also occasionally drink iced green tea out of a plastic bottle. I found it really easy to grab one when I took time off from doing regular beach cleanups after my daughter was born. 

I went to Starbucks last night. I wanted to try their new Fizzio or something drinks. It's summer. I was thirsty. I would recycle it. Oh wait, I don't believe in plastic recycling (if you'd like me to explain leave a comment) Well, just this once...This was the conversation in my head. 

But I'd just done a beach cleanup the night before and so I reached for a glass bottle instead of ordering a fancy Starbucks drink that comes in a plastic cup. Glass is truly recyclable. I recycled the bottle at home. Direct content with the items found on the beach forces me to make different choices in my day-to-day life. It's one of the reasons I think beach cleanups are effective. 

We're never going to clean the entire coastline, or even the entire beach in one night, but every day we are going to go buy stuff. And the stuff we buy, the choices we make, create change. 
So how about next time, just today, or tomorrow, glass over plastic?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 22, 2014 - beach cleanup #370

beach cleanup #370
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
5.3 pounds
1,362.5 pounds total 

My friend Dominique diligently unraveling a yellow caution tape from the kelp. The problem with synthetic rope, lines, ribbons, etc. in the ocean is that once marine life entangle themselves in it, they very rarely get untangled. 

A very old foil balloon that never intended to be here. 

Wallace J Nichols has a new book out - BLUE MIND, The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do

Thank you Willow and Dominique for coming out onto the beach tonight. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 15, 2014 - beach cleanup #369

beach cleanup #369
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
5.7 pounds
1,357.2 pounds total

With one minute left to go, I came upon this scene. 

Do I need to bring two bags out for a twenty minute beach cleanup? 

One huge armful went into the trash can in the photo that was almost full to the brim. I let the timer run out at twenty minutes and kept on going until this was all in a bag, or a can. 

I was crestfallen until I looked up. 

Someone was helping me! 

We didn't even speak, but just kept on cleaning until we were done. It's moments like this that confirm for me that most people are pretty good at the core. 

Happy Father's Day yesterday. 

This new app lets you upload your beach cleanup info from your phone! I've tried it! It's great. 
Click on the link above and check it out!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June 5th, 2014 - beach cleanup #368

beach cleanup #368
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
4.5 pounds
1,351.5 pounds total

Last Thursday I came out for another beach cleanup. My friend Danielle, who writes the amazing blog IT STARTS WITH ME, wrote in an email recently - BEACH CLEANUPS FOR LIFE. I agree. This may be my 3rd cleanup in the new goal of once a week for a year, but really it's about looking after my local beach for life. I can do that if I break it down into a weekly adventure. 

The Sun is extraordinary. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 1st, 2014 - beach cleanup #367

beach cleanup #367
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
5.8 pounds
1,347 pounds total 

I left the house at 7:00 pm to the sounds of a very unhappy Willow and her Daddy consoling her that she indeed needed to go to bed, and that really she was just tired, really. Well, reasoning with a baby is not how they work. But Garen is a great dad and reassured me to get going! 

This is the first piece of trash that really made me wince. Birds were ambling around it. I imagined the mess, and direct entanglement it could mean for them and any number of sea creatures. These mesh bags usually house sand toys, but are deadly to marine life. I felt great satisfaction at swooping this into my bag. At least this one wasn't going to cause direct misery. 

I am not the parent of a sand toy using kiddo, and I am sure it is hard to get all the gear off the beach, but an entire treasure trove of sand toys were left behind. No kid, or family in sight were attached to these sand castle creating tools. 

Last night as I was out walking, I remembered that summer is a hard time to do beach cleanups. There's usually just so much stuff left out here. And if summer is hard, then the hardest night is Sunday because it is after a weekend of beach going. 

If my weekly commitment to come out for a cleanup falls on Sunday nights, then part of me is inspired by this, and part of me is dreading the months ahead. It is hard to see the trash in such high volume. It is also satisfying to be down there on this one little stretch to do something about it. I feel better, some of the birds and other sea creatures benefit, people see what I am doing even if most of them don't engage me directly, and I have to believe that in these ways I make a direct difference. Just becuase it is a small difference, doesn't mean it doesn't count. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

back in the saddle!! memorial day weekend beach cleanup - #366

beach cleanup #366
tower 26 - Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
7.9 pounds
1,341.2 pounds total 

thanks to Jess, Drew, Alex, Garen, Willow and a man who didn't stick around to chat!

Here is our four-month-old baby girl, Willow! 
A lot has happened since the 365th Daily Ocean beach cleanup. I've done beach cleanups since, but haven't added them to the Daily Ocean total. 
Here's the short version of what's happened since I finished the first leg of this project.
I wrote a book for kids about The Daily Ocean. 
It's still being shopped around by my agent. Cross your fingers for me!
After that, I got pregnant and then sick for about seven months. Our labor and delivery was a wee bit of a challenge and so was recovery. 
But we're all happy and healthy now and in a good groove!

During this time, I kept asking myself what I wanted to do next with The Daily Ocean. 
I didn't know.
I was burnt out, exhilirated, wanted to travel the country speaking...
Over the last 15 months I have kept asking myself, "What next?"

Finally, I have an answer!
I want to blog right here again. 
I didn't know how much I missed this part of my life until I signed back on today. 

I want to do a weekly beach cleanup for a least. 

I want to speak to classes, schools, businesses, and anyone else who would like to have me. 


I had the opporunity to do some of this over the last year, and I love it. 

I want to encourage people to come out on the beach with me, or do their own cleanup. Please read about the Community Count by clicking the link at the top of this page. 

These are my friends Jess, Drew, and little Alex who was born less than two weeks after Willow. 

When she is old enough to decide, I want Willow to come on the beach with me as much as she wants. I want her to be proud of her Mom for caring about the ocean and the environment. 
Who knows? Maybe she'll love the mountains, or the city, or...and that would be fine too. 
But as you can tell from this photo, she seems to love the ocean right now.