October 31, 2011

UC Santa Cruz Grows Community through Service Learning

By Guest Blogger Julia Doloff, UCSC student and member of Praxis

"At UC Santa Cruz there is never a lack of students who are willing to volunteer their time to give back to the community and to lend a helping hand. Praxis, which is a service learning organization at College Nine and College Ten, is the perfect example. Praxis introduces the concept of service learning, which is a type of experiential education at American Universities.

Service learning employs three key concepts: experience, reciprocity, and reflection. Students actualize these concepts by volunteering with a range of organizations throughout the Santa Cruz community, such as Save Our Shores, Habitat for Humanity, and Rising International, in order to understand social justice issues affecting our community and the world at large.
Praxis students have enjoyed participating with Save Our Shores for years. The students love the opportunity to get outside and help clean our local beaches for the preservation of the environment as well as to experience the beauty of nature.

The cleanup at Panther Beach on October 15 was eye opening for many students. We found large quantities of cigarette butts, food wrappers, bottle caps, styrofoam, and an enormous amount of broken glass. It is sad to think that people could leave so much trash in such a beautiful, pristine place.

This was our largest Praxis event because it could accommodate so many people and many students jumped at the chance to go. It was educational for all the students to learn about how long it takes for certain materials to deteriorate (or not) in the ocean and enlightening to know that there are so many people and organizations, such as Save Our Shores, willing to do everything they can to help protect our beaches."

Save Our Shores sends a big THANK YOU to the Praxis team for leaving Pather Beach and our environment cleaner than they found it!

October 25, 2011

An Open Letter to Toby Keith and His Disposable Red Cup

By SOS intern and writer Sarah Cannon

Dear Mr. Keith,

When I first heard your new song, “Red Solo Cup”, I thought it couldn’t possibly be real, but I was unfortunately mistaken. I understand that it’s supposed to be funny; I get where you were trying to go with it (an ode to your favorite beer receptacle), I really do. That said, there are so many things wrong with this song, I’m having a hard time deciding where to begin. I would like to preface this letter by saying I like beer and fun maybe even as much as you do, but in spite of my affinity for a good time, I still have some issues with this song that I’m not able to excuse right off the bat.

As someone who spends quite a lot of time picking up trash at the beaches and has seen firsthand the damage single-use items can cause, I have to object to your love affair with plastic.

Plastic, even in the form of a beer-holding receptacle, is NOT your friend (although the plastic industry may like you to think it is). It’s not friends with the ocean, either, or with wildlife. Contrary to your lyrics, red solo cups are not decomposable in 14 years (in fact, they can take hundreds of years to decompose completely). Plastic never goes away; it only breaks down into smaller pieces that absorb toxic chemicals, are ingested by wildlife, and enter the food chain (ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, anyone?).

And I’m guessing you also didn’t know that the state of California alone spends around $72 million per year to collect and dispose of one-time use disposable cups (*ahem*, red solo cups) and bags? I know that political correctness isn’t exactly your thing, Mr. Keith, but I sincerely hope you weren't aware of these facts when you wrote this song. After all, I can’t imagine that you would encourage people to purchase and use items that will directly harm wildlife and the health of our environment… Just check out the stomach contents of this bird that died after consuming tiny pieces of plastic that came from sources like your red solo cup.

Although I know it wasn't your intent to promote unnecessary plastic use at the expense of the oceans, that’s exactly what you've ended up doing. I think we’d both agree that you’re no expert on the decomposition rates of plastic, but your fans are still going to take your word for it.

I’m trying not to think about how many Toby Keith fans are going to think of your song the next time they go shopping for their “beer receptacles”… but since your video is averaging around 100,000 views a day on YouTube, the number is going to be very high (and I mean panic-attack inducing high). Your song, which was intended to be fun and silly, has potentially influenced people to make a harmful and dangerous choice.

I would like to humbly suggest that in the future, you be aware of the far-reaching (and unintentional) effects that your lyrics can have. Your fame gives you a unique responsibility (and opportunity!) to have a wide-reaching influence. By doing just a little more research and being a tiny bit more attentive to the message you’re sending, a song like this could end up sending a positive message about using less plastic while still shining a spotlight on your fun-loving side; the proverbial “kill-two-birds-with-one-stone,” if you will. I mean, red solo cups aren’t even all that great! Reusable cups are way, way better (and they even come in red)!

I hope you will join me in reducing plastic use by becoming a part of the solution!

Sara Cannon

Toby Keith's lyrics promoting a disposable lifestyle in Red Solo Cup:

"Now a red solo cup is the best receptacle for barbecues, tailgates fairs and festivals,
And you, sir, do not have a pair of testicles if you prefer drinking from glass.
A red solo cup is cheap and disposable,
In 14 years they are decomposable,
And unlike my home, they are not foreclosable,
Freddy Mac can kiss my ***. Woo"!

October 12, 2011

Dive the Coast Kickoff Dive is this Saturday, October 15!

Dive the Coast 2013 will be the largest dive event in California history. It will also be the first event of its kind, where SCUBA divers come together to work toward a common goal of raising awareness concerning the growing threats to our ocean, while supporting local conservation efforts at the same time. Save Our Shores is excited to help out on the ocean conservation side of things!

The kickoff event, Dive the Bay, will take place this Saturday, October 15, aboard the Silver Prince from 9am – 2pm out of Montery Harbor. Dive the Bay will begin with a recreational fun dive, and followed by a test relay dive to calibrate dive distance, depth, and tank time logistics for the much larger Dive the Coast event. California Diver Magazine will also be on board.

Save Our Shores’ Lauren Gilligan, an experienced open-water diver, will join the group of divers for Dive the Bay this Saturday. She will give a brief talk to the group about the importance of California’s Marine Protected Areas, the ‘Underwater State Parks’ offshore where vital marine habitats and marine life are now being protected in California waters.

Registration for Dive the Coast can be found at http://www.silverprincecharters.com...

More information about Dive the Coast can be found at http://www.divethecoast.com/

October 4, 2011

Cleanup Data Gives Glimpse into Behaviors that Create Pollution

During Coastal Cleanup Day 2011 on September 17th, 4,584 volunteers in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties removed a total of 17,503 pounds of debris from 81 cleanups sites around the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in just 3 hours. A deeper look into what particular items were removed during the cleanup paints a data-backed picture of the habits and products that cause the most harm in the marine environment.

Cigarette butts, total removed: 36,082. Total smoking related items removed: 38,824.

SOS data reports that cigarette butts are the #1 item found polluting beaches and rivers on the Central Coast. Cigarette butts are made of plastic and toxic materials, and are seen as a major threat to marine species locally and worldwide. SOS has been spreading awareness about this #1 polluter through their publications, beach and river cleanups, advertisements, and radio PSAs. They have worked with the Cities of Santa Cruz and Capitola to install 18 BaitTanks (stainless-steel cigarette butt receptacles) in high-traffic areas, and data collections near these BaitTanks show a steep decline in cigarette butt litter by an average of 70%. Two BaitTanks are installed on the Monterey Wharf, and expansion of this program is underway.

"Cigarette butts are made of plastic and toxic materials, and are seen as a major threat to marine species locally and worldwide," writes SOS communications coordinator Colleen Bednarz.

Plastic bags, total removed: 4,750.

Save Our Shores recently celebrated a victory two years in the making when the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags. SOS sat on the Task Force to write the ordinance, supplied cleanup data to back the need for the ordinance, and continually garnered support for the ban from businesses and citizens alike. SOS formed the Central Coast Sanctuary Alliance, a coalition of 70 environmental organizations and local business, with the mission of banning single-use plastic bags all around the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. SOS continuously works with local leaders, businesses, and citizens to see that similar plastic bag ban ordinances are implemented in each jurisdiction surrounding the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, an often multi-year process.

Other top polluters:
  • Food wrappers/containers: 12,127
  • Caps/lids: 6,412
  • Plastic beverage bottles: 2,158
  • Straws/stirrers: 2,129
  • Pieces of fishing line: 223
  • Fishing nets: 296

"While the total number of pounds collected during Annual Coastal Cleanup Day 2011 was less this year, our data shows a consistent presence of the top polluters at nearly every beach and river cleanup we host, during every season of the year," says Bednarz. "Those are cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, plastic bags and bottle caps."

She adds: "Improvements are only seen when a change of behavior happens on land. That's why Save Our Shores works to ban single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam take-out containers in our local jurisdictions, because these items have been consistent, top polluters for years on end, wreaking havoc on our marine environment."

Save Our Shores will continue to identify problematic pollution and identify ways to combat it locally. Learn more at saveourshores.org...

“Our goal is to inspire our community to make the connection between their actions on land and the impact their actions have on our Marine Sanctuary,” says Laura Kasa, Executive Director of Save Our Shores.

Thank you to the Delaveaga Nifty Niners!

The Delaveaga Nifty Niners Golf Club put on a fabulous invitational tournament on September 13 with all proceeds from the raffle supporting Save Our Shores. Our Board Chair Sally Shepard golfed in the tournament and spoke to attendees during the event luncheon about the work and reach of SOS.

A big thank you goes out to Barb Roettger for organizing the event and to our Sanctuary Steward Jackie Nunez for doing much of the legwork that made the day such a blast.

Educational posters were even placed at each hole, providing participants helpful suggestions on how to protect the marine environment in their everyday lives.

Thank you Nifty Niners and all your lovely guests for your support!