Saturday, October 17, 2015

The war on PLASTIC... we're all in this together


Lots of people gathered at Wrightsville Beach on Saturday, October 10 to pick up trash and debris for 
New Hanover County's, Keep America Beautiful Beach Sweep.  Coordinated by the Caper Fear River Watch, this event was a huge success.   In spite of the forecast calling for rain all day, people showed up ready to make a difference by collecting all kinds of trash from our beautiful beach.  Surfrider Cape Fear Chapter and Wrightsville Beach Keep it Clean volunteers were there to greet and sign people in.  

David Cignotti and Ginger Taylor, (Wrightsville Beach Keep it Clean)
welcoming volunteers to the cleanup site.

Wrightsville Beach is a smoke-free beach, however, over 1000 cigarette butts were collected during the cleanup.  Unfortunately, cigarette butts do not go away, therefore posing danger to all kinds of marine life and the quality of the sand and water.

315 cigarette butts collected in under 1 hour.

 Bonnie Monteleone and volunteers, discussing "bio-discs".  This family found a huge amount of the tiny discs last fall on South Channel Drive.  During the cleanup several discs were found on the ocean side as well.

This is what 433 bottle caps looks like.  Over 600 plastic bottle caps were found during the cleanup.  These bottle caps would have eventually ended up in the ocean, adding to the ever growing problem in the 5 gyres and ocean debris.  Using re-usable water bottles and refusing to buy single use plastic bottles could eliminate this kind of litter.  Ocean Conservancy, in partnership with the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment has come out with a new report stating that the ocean could contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of fin fish by 2025.  These numbers are frightening.  It is more important than ever to clean up our ocean and to take a stand agains single use plastics.  Because plastics do not bio degrade, once they get in the ocean the process of photo degradation happens and they break down into tiny pieces called micro-plastics.  These plastics are being ingested by all kinds of marine life and  fish, including those at the bottom of the food chain.  What can you do to help?  Say no to single use plastic, co-ordinate clean ups in your area, and spread the word! 

 Sam, with UNCW POP (Plastic Ocean Project), found 56 straws between access 15-29.  It is estimated that over 500 million straws are used per day.  (PER DAY)!  That's enough straws to fill over 46,400 large school buses per year.  Where are these straws going?  They likely will end up on the beach and in the ocean, if not in the landfill.  This is a problem that we can fix.  Consider saying NO to straws.  When dining in restaurants, tell your server you do not need a straw, or consider taking your own glass straw to your favorite eatery.  With the plastics in the oceans reaching extreme levels, it is more important than ever to make changes to reduce our plastic footprint. 

 60 straws found by Sam at access 29-33.

Plastic Ocean Project has teamed up with Surfrider, Cape Fear Chapter and Wrightsville Beach Keep it Clean to launch a straw initiative for area restaurants.  It's a simple concept, but one that can make a huge difference.  Restaurants who participate in this program will only give straws upon request.  Local artist and Plastic Ocean Project Ambassador, Kim Beller designed a certificate which will be given to all restaurants to proudly display when signing up for this initiative, recognizing them as an "Ocean Friendly Establishment".  Please contact Kim Beller if you wish to participate or learn more, and someone will be in touch with you very soon.  Regardless of where you are located you can participate in this program.  We have people from Oregon and California reaching out to us to see how they can help out!  Outreach and education is available to anyone who participates. 

We would like to thank Blockade Runner East Ocean Front Dining for being the first to participate in this awesome program! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Summer Snapshot

Kirstin holding up her Porthole to the Sea   

Cell phones. Though they have become an addiction, POP would not have been able to visually record much of our journey sharing our stories of what we have learned from our research and the faces and places we've seen along the way.  I became a little overwhelmed by the 100s of photos we took with people who asked us to share our work AND the number of people who have stepped up to help eradicate plastics from their lives and our environment.  I like to call it People Power and nothing can change the world for the better than when we put our minds, bodies, and souls into it.

On July 4th  coordinator Lisa Rider invited us to have a booth at the Earth and Surf Festival on North Topsail. There we displayed plastic marine debris samples collect from various regions of the planet along with our Porthole to the Sea.  We were among many tents sharing the importance of caring for the ocean so many of us submerge our bodies into, eat from, and ride on. And thanks to the proceeds from the Keep Onslow County Beautiful' Fun Run, and the surf competition put on by Onshore Surf Shop, POP was able to fund moving our traveling art exhibit from UCAR, Boulder, CO to University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UH.

Kim Beller sharing the ocean samples
Mid July, we were at Tidal Creek for the Surfalorus hosted by  Kirstin Thompson.  One of our new members, Bonnie Mitchell, etched some super cute marine themed glasses as a fundraiser. We can barely keep them on the shelf - promoting the importance of drinking from glass while helping fund our outreach.

By mid August we had solved the mystery to a new plastic pollution problem. One of our recent UNCW student beach research discoveries were the release of plastic bio disks also known as bio media.  Kim Beller is holding up a handful she found on the spoil island near Wrightsville Beach.  Not only did the students work discover a problem, but POP was able to locate the source that led to the repair of the facility to prevent the release of these plastic bite size pieces of plastic.  To date, we have removed over 500 of them thanks to the collaboration of POP, UNCW students, and local volunteers.

We split our time and funds up between working with children, moving our education thru art exhibit around the country, performing research, and doing cleanups. Thank you all for the funding that helps eradicate this problem and to the people who joined this fight along the way.

Julie Hurley on spoil island cleanup duty