March 31, 2011

Nothin' But Blue Skies . . .

I'm thrilled to report that I spotted a red-handled steel garden trowel in the sand near these two boys. I'd like to think that people are thinking beyond plastic and it wasn't a 'grab and go' in the moment thing . . .

blue skies


When we sold our home in 2009 I searched for an alternative way to pack up and move our belongings and came across Earth Friendly Moving, now known as Rent-a-Green Box. The company had nothing in this area so we scrounged all of our cardboard boxes. I hadn't moved in 20 years and forgot how much fun it was to pack and move.  Having a wide array of box sizes, some with lids, some without, made things even more of an adventure . . . hmmmm.

waiting to be unpacked nearly 3 weeks after the move
Spencer Brown, Founder and Chief Tree Hugger of Rent-a-Green Box in Costa Mesa, Calif., mines landfills and converts consumer trash into reusable, zero-waste moving boxes.

His invention is called The Recopack and it stands for [recycled ecological packing solution]. Available in 3 sizes and delivered direct to your door on our fleet of super green eco-trucks powered by waste vegetable oil and bio-fuel.

They deliver them a week before you move and pick them up a week after giving you 2 full weeks (14 days) to pack and move. Delivery and Pickup are included in your price.

Think about all of the time and effort it takes to build all of those cardboard boxes. No handles and messing with that fussy tape. We have re-invented a better, faster, easier and cheaper way to pack and move.

"All you need to do is make one call and we’ll drop off your Recopacks on the delivery date. You pack, stack and move. When the Recopack are empty, just call us and we’ll come over to your new place and pick them up. It’s just that simple. It’s moving made simple for a Happy Planet!"


I despise Styrofoam! It's all over the beach. I have walked along the tide break and could not go more than a foot without finding tiny little beads of the stuff. Besides the beads of Styrofoam, there are chunks continually washing up from what appears to be boat 'bumpers'. I love that Spencer took an idea and went so far with every aspect of his business.

Rent-a-Green Box isn't in the Sonoma County area yet but if you're moving in the future check back, they're expanding fast. 

Take it from me if you haven't moved in a few years, beyond the wonderful feeling you get by using these zero-impact boxes, having sturdy boxes in uniform sizes that stack and all have lids without having to use tape would be blissful beyond words . . .

March 30, 2011

Livin' at the Beach . . .

tee shirt day . . .

Update on the stranded elephant seal pup . . . 'Sweet Rock'

'Sweet Rock'

Phil, the seal guy, generously sent me an email to let me know that the baby elephant seal we saw resting on the beach last week hauled out again and was taken to the Marine Mammal Center by another volunteer that lives in Bodega Bay, on March 26th. Phil and Jean were out of town when 'Sweet Rock' was spotted on Doran Beach appearing malnourished. 

Go to the Marine Mammal Center web site and click on 'Current Patients' to follow the progress of 'Sweet Rock' and other patients undergoing rehabilitation.


beach trash
more beach trash . . . so much Styrofoam . . .


Another movie about plastic is coming out in April, 

I'm excited to see creative, passionate film makers tackling this subject and getting the message across that we have a serious issue with plastic waste.

A pioneer blogger on the subject of plastic trash is Beth Terry.  On her blog, 'My Plastic Free Life', Beth wrote about the film 'Bag It' .

"What I LOVE about this film, as compared to films like Addicted to Plastic, which I reviewed in 2009, is its emphasis on consumer empowerment and cutting consumption. The film sums itself up with the following take-aways:
1) Reduce single-use
2) Don’t drink bottled water
3) Choose less packaging
4) Buy it used
5) Bring your own
6) Buy less stuff
7) Reduce, Reuse, then Recycle
8) Clean it up
9) Avoid #3, #6, #7PC
10) Simplify your life"

If you want to know when the film is playing in your area go to the Do Something Reel website and enter your zip code to see a list of theaters and show times in your area. 

I plan to take my son when the movie is playing in town. More than likely it will be a surprise . . .

March 27, 2011

Raining On My Parade . . .

When my husband walks with me I enjoy talking with him. Today we hardly said a word. Geared up and heads curled down against the rain, we walked, mostly in silence. I didn't dare pull out my camera so I focused on the sand and listened to the waves. It was low tide and we had the beach to ourselves. We hunted for sea glass and found unusual treasures brought up by the winter seas.

We focused on picking up trash on the walk back to the car. I wasn't able to wipe my drippy nose while holding on to a bag full of trash and two plastic jugs. I was thankful we were alone and that my husband thinks I'm pretty awesome, drippy nose and all . . .

Lots of plastic straws on the beach . . . they're beginning to annoy me more than cheap plastic beach toys. 

When we eat out, my son gives me an eye rolling look as I typically request "no straws" with our water. If he saw the amount of straws that I pick up on the beach he might be a bit more tolerant of his 'eccentric' mom . . . maybe.

March 26, 2011

Ranger . . .

We have cats, no dogs but I love dogs and adore puppies . . . this is 'Ranger', a five month-old lab I met while walking on the beach . . 

'Ranger' and his mama

'Ranger' said a brief "hello" and was off to enjoy his first day experiencing the beach. He wasn't unlike a human toddler in his curiosity and play. He dug a hole in the sand, tasted the salty ocean, played with rocks and checked in with mom and dad for reassurance. He was having the time of his life! 

I walked after high tide and there was more trash than I could possibly pick up but I did my best. More cheap plastic beach toys . .

I'm finding dozens of plastic tips from cigars and plastic bags galore . . .

I need a bigger bag . . .

March 22, 2011

I Love Cumulus Clouds . . .

Cumulus clouds . . . Wikipedia's definition:

Cumulus clouds are a type of cloud with noticeable vertical development and clearly defined edges. Cumulus means "heap" or "pile" in Latin. They are often described as "puffy" or "cotton-like" in appearance. Cumulus clouds may appear alone, in lines, or in clusters. Cumulus clouds are often precursors of other types of clouds, such as cumulonimbus, when influenced by weather factors such as instability, moisture, and temperature gradient. Cumulus clouds are part of the larger category of cumuliform clouds, which include cumulus, cumulus congestus, and cumulonimbus clouds, among others.[1] The most intense cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds may be associated with severe weatherhail, waterspouts and tornadoes.

the clouds look like caribou antlers

I was discouraged by the trash . . . 

Styrofoam breaks down into tiny molecular pieces that are ingested by sea creatures. They're difficult to pick up and to hang on to because they're so light and blow away easily.

Cheap plastic beach toys annoy me  . . . a metal pail and a garden trowel are much more interesting. When my son was little we made a ritual out of packing up his toy trucks, pails and shovels into his wagon as a gentle close to the day . . . he never liked saying "goodbye" to the beach . . . 

ditch the plastic toys and Styrofoam beach coolers

I never like leaving the beach either . . .

March 21, 2011

Raucous Winter Waves . . .

The intense energy of the winter sea isn't easy to capture in photographs. The pounding waves slamming against the rocks, spray exploding into the air, I love every bit of the ocean's energy . . .

The marbled Godwit's rush in as the waves recede to gobble up whatever critters they're after . . .

I can't leave the beach without picking up at least one piece of trash . . . feeling guilty I forgot my bag to pick up more . . .

Water is Life . . .

SURFRIDER FOUNDATION  delivers this information about World Water Day ~ March 22nd on their website:

March 22nd is World Water Day. Founded in 1993 by the United Nations, this global observance highlights the need for the care and management of the world’s water resources. This year’s theme, “Urban Water Usage” highlights the ongoing challenges we face as urban populations continue to grow. 

With an estimated one out of two people on the planet now living in cities, the pressure to meet our freshwater needs is at a breaking point. From supply, to sanitation, to usage, our infrastructure and resource management practices have pushed many areas past peak water capability. Not only does this affect public health and welfare, the effects from urban runoff, sewage spills and ocean intakes cause significant damage to our marine environments. 

Every eight months, 10.9 million gallons of oil runs off streets and driveways and into our nations waters – equivalent to the amount lost in the Exxon Valdez spill.

Each year, approximately 18,000 beaches are closed or posted as unhealthy due to bacterial contamination and/or sewage spills.
Every day, 37 ocean outfalls in California discharge over 1.5 billion gallons of sewage containing about 120 million tons of mass solids.

The good news is that each and every one of us can reduce our water footprint by making small changes in our day-to-day routines. These actions will not only help keep our oceans, waves and beaches clean, they could potentially help you save hundreds of dollars each year!

Beach Mama note:
I'd love to see your lawn-free landscapes using native, water conservative plants. Share them with me and I'll share them on this blog!

March 20, 2011

After the Storm . . .

 3 month old (approx.) elephant seal

Phil Warren (aka, 'the seal guy') was on the beach today placing stakes in the sand cautioning beach goers to give a wide berth to the stranded elephant seal pup. He said this guy looked to be in good condition so far but he'd keep an eye on him. 

Elephant seal pups weigh about 60 to 80 pounds when they're born. They nurse for 24 to 28 days quadrupling their birth weight. The pups, called 'weaners' are weaned when their mothers abruptly head back out to sea. For about 8 to 10 weeks the 'weaners' stay behind at the rookery teaching themselves to swim. During this time of 'fasting' they will loose about a third of their body weight. It's their hunger that drives them to set out to sea and hunt for food.

Phil and his wife, Jean, are key volunteers for the Marine Mammal Center. The couple moved to Bodega Bay after retiring from Silicon Valley five years ago. After meeting a Marine Mammal Center docent on a boat trip, Phil and Jean took a drive down to Sausalito to check out the MMC facility. They both wanted to volunteer but driving down to Marin every week didn't work well with 'retirement' life. Becoming 'stranded seal' volunteers seemed to be a good fit. It's certainly a perfect fit for all of the seals they've assisted these past five years. 

During 2009 there was a surge of seal births from the estimated 20,000, to 60,000 seals born that year. There was not enough food to sustain them all and many starved to death. My husband and I made several calls about dead, starving, emaciated seals that year, mostly along Salmon Creek South. Phil said there were days when he and Jean were bringing in stranded seals several times in one day. Doesn't sound like retirement to me . . . 

taking a breather . . .

The warm calmness of the beach was a nice break from the gale force winds and stormy seas last night. We were surprised how many people ventured out to the coast given the gloomy weather reports.

My husband met Susannah and Ben while picking up trash. We're often thanked by beach goers who appreciate our efforts at keeping the beach clean. My husband (he's a sweetie!) offered a bag  and gloves to Susannah and Ben which they eagerly accepted and headed down the beach to collect trash. My guess is we'll be seeing more of them out at the beach with bag in hand . . .

nice haul!

Susannah was concerned about all of the glass on the beach

many thanks you two, it was very fun (and inspiring) meeting you!

our morning haul

lots of water bottles and Styrofoam

tangled piles washed up along the beach
my hero . . .

the white plastic piece is about 2' by 3' and is trash I found on the beach ~
 my genius husband rigged up a 'leash' for me to pull this puppy along  . . .

afternoon haul . . .

a closer look . . . lots of bottle tops

several plastic tips from cigars . . . lots of empty shotgun cartridges too

I've read that most of the beach trash comes from storm drains that eventually empty into streams then oceans . . .  and then as we all know, end up in the stomachs of wild life . . . 

migrating white pelican ~ Thomas Reynolds, photographer

dead pelican ~ Doran Beach, Sonoma Coast

baby albatross, Midway Atoll Island ~ Chris Jordan, photographer

baby albatross, Midway Island ~ Chris Jordan, photographer

Please watch this video . . . Captain Charles Moore tells us that we're in a crisis . . . we must act NOW . . .