Saturday, November 27, 2010

OUT OF TOWN FROM 11/28 - 12/2

First stop tomorrow is Sacramento where I will get to hang out with my lobby buddy Denis from the Surfrider So. O.C. chapter, which seems like a total kick ass operation.
I met her in Sacramento this year and lucky for me, she's up there again for another rally to Ban the Bag. We'll be attending the event for promoting momentum for the city-by-city Bag Ban at the State Capitol Building Steps on Monday morning.

I hope to get up there in time to do a Sacramento River cleanup.

Then it is off to the SF Bay area to see my friends, and back down through Santa Cruz in time for my husband's birthday on Thursday.

We tried to find a sustainable sushi restaurant to go to on his birthday in LA. NONE were found. Bummer. We need to take a cue from SF and Seattle.

More cleanups from my local beach will resume Friday when I meet with my friend Danielle's husband Aaron who is in town. She writes a great blog that I mention often called, It Starts With Me - check it out!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 175 - Thanksgiving Day 2010

Matador Beach, Malibu CA
trash collected for 20 min.
4.7 pounds collected
686.9 pounds total
Charlotte heading down to Matador Beach on Thanksgiving Day before our 2 pm meal

It felt right to be on the beach with some of my favorite people on the planet for Thanksgiving Day.
many fishermen were staked out on the beach with yards, upon yards of mono filament

Most of the trash that I found on the beach came from the people that were still near it. A Red Bull can near a fisherman casting into the surf. A plastic water bottle in front of a chair next to another man ready to fish. This made me wonder if it was my place to explain why we wanted to make sure we took our trash with us when we left the beach? I collected their trash, but said nothing which didn't help me let go of the resentment and judgement that was ringing through my head, "Why don't people know better?" And why don't they? And how do we tell them in a way that hits its mark and takes effect? Seriously, I'm asking...

Lisa's toe and a plastic bottle top
I thought this was kelp...

But it wasn't. It was a buried black, plastic tarp or bag that we couldn't entirely unearth. Garen and I dug, and dug as the tide came in, pushing sand right back on top of it.

But maybe this is why I am driving to Sacramento on Sunday for a Monday rally on the steps of the CA State Capitol Building to build momentum for the plastic bag ban. I see so many plastic bags that I have to get in the car. Do you live in Sacramento and want to join us? Leave me a comment and I will tell you the details.

Community Count Day 72 - November 23, 2010

Herbert and Charlotte after learning that we collected 38.2 pounds of trash in 20 min.

Community Collection Day 72 - Palos Verdes, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
by Lisa, Herbert, Charlotte, Garen and Sara
38.2 pounds
611.2 pounds total

thank you to our friends who collected trash with us, and especially to Herbert who took all of these photographs with his new itouch!
Garen walking down to one of his favorite tide pooling beaches in CA

This is my first post in a few days. I felt like I was on vacation since Monday afternoon when one of my oldest friends, Lisa arrived with her two kids who are pictured above. I didn't even turn on my computer until after noon today which made me remember why I love this time of year so much. Even with holiday madness, and family drama, we slow down a bit.

One of Garen's favorite beaches is out on the Palos Verde Peninsula and so we took our three guests there for an octopus hunt, and to admire other "beasties" as Garen would say.

The view from the cliff is stunning. Unspoiled coast awaits you, or does it?
A purple sea urchin

Garen, Lisa and Herbert all tasted fresh Uni (Japanese for sea urchin) after Garen dissected it on the spot for Herbert. He's a marine biologist, not just some random beach goer who likes to open up urchin shells. And Herbert is intensely curious about the workings of all things marine. They dissected a squid together about two years ago when they spent their first Thanksgiving out on Avery Island. Herbert was so impressed he made Garen a shirt that says:

view of a seemingly pristine beach

But as the time for the beach cleanup got closer, I was getting anxious. I knew what awaited us up toward the high tide line in the rocks, and it was going to be a bummer.
the tide pools below the rocks at low tide

We made our way up there as the clock struck 4 pm. At first it looks like there's lots of trash to collect, but on further inspection...
where all the plastics gather

there's just tons and tons of it. You stay hunched over for the entire 20 min. just picking bits of plastic-this-and-that as fast as you can. If you move a couple of rocks, there's always more.

our friends who were visiting couldn't believe that everything was made of plastic

If I was even more fanatical than I already am about beach trash, I would save all of the trash that I collect, and separate it out into brands. SO for example all of the 7/11 products I find would be put into a nice big pile, and shipped off to 7/11 with a note. Hmmm...

My fanatical idea leads me to something that I have been thinking about lately. Why does the burden fall on the consumer to educate themselves about the environmental impacts of products and foods and the many varied negative effects that these goods also have on human health? Why aren't these issues factored into the beginning of the product's life? Why can't I even trust the label organic? And for example, why when I look at this Right Guard tube of antiperspirant do I have to know that the packaging will be around for oh - a thousand years or so - and that it most likely contained a form of aluminum that was detrimental to the health of the user? I just want to buy deodorant that doesn't hurt myself, or the planet don't you?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Plastics Are Forever International Youth Summit


Win a chance to Join 100 Youth Leaders at Algalita's Plastics Are Forever International Youth Summit in Los Angeles in March 2011

The deadline for submitting your team’s solution to plastic pollution is November 30. Don’t forget to submit your idea for a shot o join 100 other teens, media experts and environmental leaders in Los Angeles in March 2011 for Algalita’s Plastics Are Forever International Youth Summit. Read more @

All you have to do is:

1) Form a Team

2) Learn a little more about plastic pollution at /

3) Come up with an idea to solve plastic pollution in your community

4) Submit your idea at

5) Check back in December to see if your team is a winner!

this will stick in in your head in the best way possible and inspire you!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 174 - November 19, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
2.1 pounds
682.2 pounds total
I try to go running on the beach. Before I set out, I tell myself that it is OK if I run past some of the trash that I see along the way. I reassure myself that, "I do enough!" I can enjoy a little half hour run without feeling guilty!

But I can't get very far.

I'll run past some things, and then something will catch my eye, like a boogie board leash, and I think oh man, I have to get that! Think of the damage that loose, plastic rope could do to some animal or sea bird? SO I pick it up.

Then I pick up a big plastic bag. Perhaps after I have ran past a few smaller items since I now feel off the hook by having the boogie board leash in my hand. I mean, how many people do you see running with trash in their hands?

SO I pass a Cheetos bag, or a water bottle. But then I see another piece of litter I just can't go by. Now my hands are full. This means I then have to run to the beach trash cans, (and I hate using just feels wrong to throw something away there, like there it has a higher likelihood of escaping the open top confines and sprinting back to the ocean. I'm revealing my fanaticism, aren't I?)

Anyhow, I get to the can, I'm completely winded from the run in the loose, dry sand, and inevitably I just head back to the bike path away from the beach because I just can't take the multiple treks back to the trash can thru the dry sand that I know are coming if I carry on at the water's edge. One part lazy, two parts?
Maybe it's as simple as not being able to run away from caring.
I found so many of these today. It made me think about the bill that got killed last year in the CA State Senate - SB #something-or-other - was a law to leash your lid to the bottle.

Kind of like how we used to pull the top off of the aluminum cans until someone figured out how to leave them attached by just pushing them under. We have the technology now to do the same for bottles. There is a man, with his factory all geared up and ready to go, in South Carolina that has the technology in place.

Now we just need the willingness to change.
I wish people who came to the beach to enjoy a joint would just put this damned plastic tip in their pocket after they've rolled their blunt. Did I just write blunt like I use that word in my everyday life?

Well, I don't.

But when I see "Philly Blunt" wrappers, and cigarillo plastic stubs, I'm not too old to figure it out that they ain't smoking cigars out here.

So BEFORE you smoke pot on the beach by rolling it in the cigar paper that is usually attached to this little plastic nubbins - try, PLEASE try to put that thing in your pocket before you light up. Please?
And then take this wrapper with you after you've satisfied your munchies. I can't believe I am writing this. I think it is funny right now, but maybe I should rethink this post before I publish it?

I'm not condoning getting stoned, but if I were to get baked, (clearly I'm in 10th grade again) the beach is a great place to do it. Which brings me to an interesting point.

We can't stop people from doing what they are going to do. We can try, (and all of this is my silly opinion now), we can make sweeping changes by implementing laws, fines, and the like but folks are going to do what they want.

Prohibition anyone? (by the MUST watch Boardwalk Empire. I'm just saying. HBO. Brilliant!)

I just want to advocate for cleaning up after ourselves once we've gotten what we came for. To enjoy a spectacular sunset, a place to hang with your family, a spot to sit quietly by yourself. It strikes me as a way to sort of pay that place back by leaving it as it was when you came, or making it even better. What has gotten into me today with the preachy preach stuff?? Apologies.
From left to right: Ross (producer and sound engineer), Brett - D.P. extraordinaire & Destin - Director

Destin Cretton and crew out on the beach to shoot a short for the Sundance channel. Destin won best Short in last year's Sundance festival for Short Term 12. And if I am not mistaken, the congratulations extends to all three of them since I think everyone in this shot was part of that production. I know great things await for these uber cool, creative guys with easy going outlooks and passions galore for what they want to do in the challenging world of film.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 173 - November 16, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
1.2 pounds
680.1 pounds total

Community Count Day 71 - Doctor Heather Lounsbury - thank you Heather!
Santa Monica, CA
trash collected for 20 min.
.5 pounds
573 pounds

The Daily Ocean combined total = 1253.1

Today the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to ban single-use plastic bags in LA County. What a victory! The BAG MONSTERS were out (Yay Chico Bags!!!) and so were Surfrider and Heal the Bay. I missed it because of a stomach bug I'm fighting off - insert big bummer sigh here - but I am extremely proud that LA County took decisive action to become the biggest municipality to ban the bag in the USA! Hip-hip-hooray! Read Team Marine's coverage on their blog too.
The International Bird Rescue Research Center caught a gull that had been collared by a beer can and removed it! But they think that someone is doing this on purpose to these birds. Please read their post for the number to call if you spot a bird that has a beer can around its neck for all of you who live in the bay area.
Here is a report from Maine on what is washing up there. The Flotsam Diaries is written by my fellow trash trudger Harry. He has great observations on what's hitting the sand all the way up in Northern Maine.
Have you see the Story of Stuff, the Story of Bottled Water or the new Story of Electronics? Well they are awesome short films that are jam packed with illuminating info. on what really happens to the many products we buy from start to finish. Start with the newest edition - The Story of Electronics.

Annie Leonard talks about, "design for the dump....making stuff to throw away quickly."
Makes sense if the companies making this stuff want us to buy more, and in fact they depend on it. But she has a better idea - that's not so new - "Product Take Back," also called EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY. These laws are popping up all over Europe and Asia.

And let's not export our 25 MILLION POUNDS of E-WASTE a year to other countries like China.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 172- Nov. 15, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
1.6 pounds
678.9 pounds total

The author of a new blog called, "PLASTIC SEEDS" contacted me today. She is a SAMOHI' alum, and wishes that Team Marine was around for her when she was going there!

Her blog so far investigates topics like Bisephenol A - or BPA. Here is a well written, and disturbing excerpt from a post:

"BPA is the raw material of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. It’s the chemical compound that makes plastic clear and shatterproof, and it’s found in a vast array of consumables: water bottles, baby bottles, dental sealants, cash receipts, plastic plate ware, pipes, and maybe most disturbingly, in the linings of canned food. The U.S. makes seven billion pounds of BPA each year which translates to an unfathomable amount of products. And, to go along with the enormous amounts of BPA that get locked up in consumables are the measurable amounts found in our bodies and the environment. Cases in point: the chemical is detected in over 90% of urine samples taken from random U.S. citizens, and, scientists have uncovered BPA in every sample of ocean water and sand from over 200 sites from North America to Southeast Asia. So, when you hear that BPA is everywhere, it really is everywhere."
Here's what's happening tomorrow in downtown LA to ban single use plastic bags, and it is oh-so-exciting! Oh yeah - YOU'RE INVITED!!! Join us, join Heal the Bay and make history

"History will be made November 16th. Please join Heal the Bay in supporting the Board of Supervisors as they vote to ban plastic bags in Los Angeles County unincorporated areas. The rally will precede the meeting on the steps of the Hall of Administration. Please stay and testify in support of the ordinance. With a population of over a million people, this will be the largest municipality in the country to ban the use of plastic bags. "
Ahhh...the magic of twitter. Natalie of "Plastic Seeds" said that "twitter is our" Our being perhaps the enviros, ngo's and other fab. folks loving OUR planet. And I think she is right. Just look who I found via twitter:

They are in Australia, so it is not all that likely that I would have bumped into them if it were not for the twittersphere.
Here is their "How to participate page". They really break cleaning up our world into 5 easy steps. Check it out, maybe do it? And then tell others!
looking the other way

This is what the beach looks like south of lifeguard tower 26, which is the first photo in every Daily Ocean post.

As you may have noticed, up at the top of The Daily Ocean is a DONATE button from paypal. Here is what you are donating to:

My husband (a Marine Biologist) and I want to join the 5 Gyres Institutes's research expedition across the South Pacific this spring to study plastic pollution in the world's oceans, it's effects on marine life, and human health. I am going to blog the hell out of our trip while also being Garen's research assistance. But we can't get there alone. We need your help to cross the 4860 miles of ocean that are spanning out in front of us. Here's all the details. And thanks!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 171 - Nov. 12, 2010

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

Community Count Day 70
life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
1.9 pounds
572.5 pounds total

The Daily Ocean combined total - 1249.8 pounds

I felt slightly voyeuristic taking this photo, but their anonymity is in tact thanks to the shadowy light of sunset.

The 5 Gyres crew has set sail across the South Atlantic. Many of them have succumbed to the common adjustment of eminent sea sickness that will "feed the fishes," but the eclectic crew is underway to study one of the least surveyed gyres for accumulating plastic pollution and persistent organic compounds.

Garen and I will be joining the team heading out in March from Chile. Please help if you can. Every facebook post counts, every dollar, every tweet, every conversation and email that passes on the information we need to desperately get out to "millions of people, not thousands, as Pangea Exploration's Sea Dragon blog says: (Pangea is partnered with 5 Gyres)

"Yes, on these voyages we’ll come across tremendous horrors, being confronted with the stain of our culture, but we’re reminded of what we wish to protect in every sunset, in every moonrise and every new appearance of a celestial body in the gloaming."
An extra HUGE thank you needs to go out to Jon who came to the beach with me last night for the 171st beach cleanup. Here's why:

We can upon this plastic bag buried under the sand at 18 min. and 35 sec. into our 20 minute cleanup. I think I speak for both of us when I say that I was sure we could unearth it fairly quickly.

28 minutes later, and with very little light, we finally dug out the tearing plastic garbage bag.
As we looked at the once buried plastic Jon said, "Just imagine what kind of damage this one bag could have done in the water."

"Especially because it's clear," I said, thinking about all of the sea turtles who mistake the floating plastic reaching the oceans for their familiar food of choice - jellyfish.



Here's a link to Heal the Bay for more details.

And I hear there's a pretty nasty cold going around...practice your cough for the Tues. morning phone in to work.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

sick day

I'm not feeling very well today, but a fall cold is nothing compared to what this bird had to go through.

This is an image that the environmental activist photographer Chris Jordan passed around today in response to a very misleading campaign that the American Chemistry Council launched called - "PLASTICS MAKE IT POSSIBLE"

I don't even want to put a link to it here because I feel weird about it, like it would encourage them in some way....but you can google it for yourself.

I'll let you decide for yourself what you think of this shameless green-washing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 170 - Nov. 9, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
2 pounds
675.6 pounds
It was a hard night to be out there. I took a few pictures of bigger pieces of trash when the light was just fading, but then my efforts quickly turned to the thousands of fragmented bits of styrofoam littering the high tide line. I spent 20 minutes picking up those bits, which is frustrating on many levels. The one that is sticking out in my mind as I write is that I couldn't possibly get it all. Maybe that is an appropriate metaphor for the frustrating nature of getting all the trash - mostly made from plastic - out of the world's oceans....
One great thing that happened was that a woman came up to me and asked, "Are you picking up plastic?" She'd watched the TEDx conference Great Pacific Garbage Patch that happened here in Santa Monica on Sat. hosted by the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Turns out we have a lot in common and she is up to great things, one of which is writing for the Huff Post on environmental issues. Here name is Deborah Bassett. We're going to hopefully go for coffee to break it all down. Thank you BIG time to the PPC for hosting such a world changing event!
They raise money to make loans to help organizations share their stories, then work to repay the loan which in turn goes on to foster other epic changes in still more communities!
One great message I just got on twitter was from a woman in Maui who spent 20 min. with 20 people to collect cigarette butt liter off the beach. They got 670 butts! Danielle of It Starts with Me blog came here over the summer and took back the idea of doing 20 min. cigarette butt collections to her Wrightsville Beach community in N.C.. Well thanks to social media more folks have heard of her efforts, and she is so gracious to always point back to The Daily Ocean but really the only, and coolest thing that matters is that people are getting totally inspired to clean up their beaches, learn about the issues surrounding all of that trash and they are sparking change! Couldn't really ask for more than that....

Here is PART TWO of Stuart Moody of Green Sangha's successful cigarette butt story:

A week after my experience in Marin (where someone was thankful for the info. about cig. butt liter he gave them), I was sitting outside the BART station in San Leandro, waiting for AC Transit. Next to me was a young man with nearly-shaved head, a tank top showing several tattoos, and arms nearly as broad as my legs. He threw a smoking cigarette to the ground. Heartened by my earlier experience, I began to tell him the same thing I had said in Novato. He wouldn't let me finish. "You mean I should throw it in the trash?" "Yes," I said, "after putting it out." He picked it up and tossed in the garbage can. I thanked him, and reflected silently: people generally do not want to do harm; if we can tell them nicely how to live more kindly on the earth, they just might be grateful for our advice.
A Tibetan Monk pouring sand from the mandala into the Santa Monica Bay

My friend Debbie works with Tibetan monks in Tehachapi CA. Last week they held a residency at the UCLA Hammer Museum where a team of trained monks drew a sand mandala that took them an entire week to complete. Then they had a ceremony - dedicating all of the focused power of concentrated loving compassion that went into the making of the mandala - swept the entire thing up - walked to the water from WESTWOOD and poured all the sand in as a prayer to the world.

Wherever that sand goes (mined from near their monastery in Nepal) their wish is that is spreads loving compassion to all the places, and beings it touches. Doesn't it make you feel better about the world that people like this, and events like these are going on amidst it all?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Say 169 - Nov. 5, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
1.5 pounds
673.6 pounds total

I am very excited to share the inauguration of CRAPOLA ISLANDS - a place so remote - growing so steadily - "A PLACE SO QUIET AND SERENE YOU CAN LITERALLY HEAR A WHALE CHOKING." - become a citizen today!
Tonight was about extricating tiny-f-ing-pieces of plastic wrappers like the one above from the high tide line. Excuse the slightly out of focus photo complete with partial finger blur in the bottom, but I just HAD to show you what I was up against....

This was a very interesting post on GRIST that was forwarded to me today:

Part One of a story from Stuart Moody of Green Sangha in the SF Bay Area about asking someone to dispose of a cigarette butt: (it's a good mood-elevating-kind of story)

One afternoon, I was standing at the bus pad on Highway 101 at Rowland Blvd. in Novato. A man at the stop was smoking a cigarette, speaking on a mobile phone. He finished the cigarette, dropped it to the ground, and put it out under his shoe. He was not speaking English on the phone, so I didn't know whether he would understand me. But I approached him and said, "I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I recently learned that cigarette filters are not biodegradable. They wash down the gutter into the bay and ocean, and sometimes birds or fish will eat them and it hurts them. If we could throw the filters in the trash can after putting them out, then we could save those animals." He looked at me for a moment. Then he said, "Thank you for your information." I thanked him, and walked away. A moment later, he picked up the cigarette butt and carried it to the trash can.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 168 - Nov. 3, 2010

life guard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
3.3 pounds collected
672.1 pounds total
From what I could tell - this is a full plastic garbage bag of clothing that was left on the beach next to - not in - the garbage can. Curious.

I want to talk about something that I may not have mentioned before. What do I do with the trash I collect from the beach? This is the most anti-climactic part of my collection. I throw it away. But I know that there is no "away." I know that there is a good chance that it might end up in the ocean anyway if pieces get blown out of garbage trucks, or away from landfills. I know that I can't get rid of the trash, and that the plastics I take from the water's edge will take thousands of years to degrade - if they ever do. And I know that I will find more trash on the same beach the very next time I come out on the sand.

SO: what gives me a little comfort is -
1. I've taken pictures so you can see that the stuff we all use in our daily lives ends up on beautiful beaches, and then into the ocean.
2. I write about what I'm learning, and my thoughts here. Hopefully this is useful to help us all think about how we can change our own daily lives to stimulate the change we need. We are the most powerful place to start.
3. I have taken this trash off the beach and disposed of it somewhere else. This feels good even if it is not the total solution to the problem.
4. I have taken action in whatever imperfect, human way I can. Hopefully, my action sparks others to do the same. And it makes me feel better. In-action leaves me feeling hopeless. We don't need that. We need hope.

This was an empty Smirnoff 2 once bottle.

I'm speechless. Please view.

I'm not "lovin' it" when I find trash from fast food restaurants poised to enter the ocean with one strong breeze.

I was reading my ORION magazine yesterday. This passage caught my eye. It is an excerpt from Bill McKibben's article, "Small Change."

"...the White House has studiously avoided any extended discussion of climate change for the last two years. The occasional speech at some solar panel factory, sure, but even that was usually about "green jobs or the "clean energy future" or some other middle-speak. All of which accomplished nothing, since the Senate decided not to even take a vote on anything climate related.
So: hard facts.
Nineteen nations have set new all-time temperature records this summer.

Federal scientists have just announced that we've come through the warmest six months, twelve months, and decade on record.

A powerful new study in Nature shows that global warming has cut phytoplankton populations by half in the last sixty years.

It's not left, it's not right. It's HOT."