Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 362 - Dec. 1, 2012

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min. 
4 pounds
1,322.1 pounds total

Community Count Day 259 - Luana, Campell
trash collected for 20 min. 
8 pounds
1,090.3 pounds total 

29 cigarette butts



Today's Tip #3 to help the ocean comes from a comment left on Day 362's post. 


An anonymous reader left a comment full of compliments and questions. They asked about the details of Daily Ocean beach cleanups to give them some direction for their own efforts. This is how the Community Section of my blog started in the first place. A reader asked me if she could do a Daily Ocean style beach cleanup. I said yes right away. You can join us too.

 My friend Danielle of IT STARTS WITH ME came up with OUR DAILY OCEAN that's collected hundreds of pounds for this project as well at over 50,000 cigarette butts off her local beaches in North Carolina! Her efforts were instrumental in getting a smoking ban on the ballot last election day that passed. Share ideas. Start your own thing with your own flare and you never know what amazing changes will come from your efforts!

So to follow my own tip, here's the scoop on how to do your own Daily Ocean style beach cleanup. 

1. How do you pick stuff up, especially tiny cigarette butts? Do you use any tools? Do you wear gloves of some kind? 
I used to use a reusable garden glove and now I have a trash grabber stick that a company sent as a promotion for their product. I recommend a reusable glove.

2.  What do you put the stuff in? If you use a plastic garbage bag, how thick should it be?
My friend Teresa A.K.A. THE GREEN BAG LADY made me vinyl bags with mesh along the bottom so the sand drops out. Find out about her incredible project HERE. But really, any reusable bag that can be washed easily will do. The theme here being reusable so that I don't create more trash by picking it up.

3.  Do you separate the recyclables? I have at times and at other times I haven't. This is one part laziness, which is hard for me to admit, and two parts what I have learned about plastic recycling or shall I say the myth of plastic recycling. My friend Harry who writes the blog THE FLOTSAM DIARIES writes well researched and written posts on this topic. 

4.  Where do you put the trash once you've finished collecting it? I take it off the sand and put it in a trash can in the parking lot. I make sure that if it is a windy day that it is in a bin that's no more than half full because I don't want the contents to be blown out. 

5.  How can you be sure the stuff you pick up wouldn't be picked up anyway by the city beach clean-up tractors? (I know they only get a fraction of what's out there, but I'd like to leave that fraction to them and make my efforts count.) 

This is a great question! I go right for the stuff closest to the water's edge. For example, I love snagging a plastic bag right before a wave comes to carry it off again where it can do a lot of harm. The beach tractors don't go down any part of the sand that slopes so if you head right for the water you're getting what they do not. In Santa Monica they rake the sand in the morning. I go for a beach cleanup around sunset to get what's been left for that day. 

6. How do you weigh the stuff? 
I bought a Staples mailing scale that I leave in the back of my car. I put it on my car just like this when I get back from my 20 min. cleanup and stick the bag right on top to weigh it. 

7. What about hazardous stuff like syringes? 
I've found one syringe with the cap still on so I just threw it away. What would I do? That's a good question..more than 99% of what I find is every day convenience items made from plastic that have toxic effects galore but not for you when you pick them up if you wear a glove. 

8. Is there anything else I should know?
Go easy on yourself. You may feel really inspired right now and want to do a beach cleanup for twenty minutes every week! And your weeks may get really full, or you may not feel like doing it sometimes. Let that all be OK and go when you can. Don't allow yourself to give up because you don't adhere perfectly to your initial intentions. I think the best intention is to do what you can, when you can and remember that every time you do something it matters. Action feels so much better than inaction. Good luck and let me know how it all goes! You are welcome to share your beach cleanups on the Daily Ocean anytime.  


  1. thanks for the great tips, the mesh-bottom trash bag sounds perfect! My local beach has been hit by some recent storms and we've had a car tyre wash up along with the usual collection of bottles, fishing lines, cut-off rope from boats and other plastics.
    What's the most common bit of trash you find, do you have a top 5 or 10 for your beach?

    1. You are very welcome! Good question - plastics of all kinds are the most common. Single-use plastic wrappers, meaning straws, bags, chip bags, candy wrappers, etc. these are the most common on my beach for sure! Plastic bottle tops....yup plastic is the most common. Where is your beach?

  2. Thanks for the shout out Sara. Let me know when you get your bags for this weekend. We have a HUGE freebie going on at Green Bag Lady right now if you want to let folks know about it. :) Cyber hugs.