June 28, 2013

Climate Change is Undeniable

Climate change is no longer debatable and our President agrees. This week, President Obama gave a speech that laid out what many of us have known for a long time and committed to actions that we’ve already been pushing for. But to have the nation’s leader back it with such strong words is monumental.

He outlined three major actions to look forward to.  In order to tackle the ever-growing challenge of global warming, the President said we need, “a plan to cut carbon pollution; a plan to protect our country from the impacts of climate change; and a plan to lead the world in a coordinated assault on a changing climate.”

“So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late,” the President said. “And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.”

California has been leading the way in making changes that reduce pollution for a number of years, although there is much more progress to be made. 

Locally, organizations like ClimateCorps Bay Area are sending out trained participants to teach businesses and communities to reduce their carbon footprint. The participants join forces with Bay Area cities to carry out green initiatives. Through analysis and recommendations, as well as assisting with implementing programs, the CCBA has been very successful in reducing greenhouse emissions across the Bay Area. 

One of the biggest contributors to carbon pollution is transportation with the Bay Area emitting at three times the world average, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.  An astounding 40 to 50 percent of these emissions come from the transportation sector. 

Luckily, Bay Area cities and environmentalists are teaming up to combat the smog and work toward promoting viable clean alternatives to driving. Bike and car sharing programs are popping up at a rapid pace. For every vehicle off the road that’s an estimated 26 pounds less of carbon dioxide spewing into the atmosphere!

Solar incentives have also been successful. Santa Cruz County has its own solar initiative that, when coupled with state and federal rebates and credits, can reduce equipment and installation costs by up to 50 percent. Going completely solar for all electricity would be the equivalent to removing 1.37 cars from the road. 

President Obama is right. It is definitely time for everyone to move beyond “is this happening?” and on to “what are YOU going to do about it.” The ocean takes in nearly half of human-made carbon emissions and is absorbing 80 to 90 percent of the excess heat generated by the greenhouse effect. Everyone needs to get on board before our ship has sunk.

June 14, 2013

Good Eats with Good Intentions: Part II

Supporting local businesses with positive practices is a wonderful way to take a stand—and in this case, also a super way to have a delicious meal!

Passionfish, located in Pacific Grove, is one of the first restaurants in the area to be certified as a green business. The name says it all as the menu features local and sustainable seafood, meat and produce. Their ingredients are purchased at small farms and farmers’ markets daily.

A commitment to exciting flavors and sea-and earth-friendly practices shines through in each carefully crafted meal. From mouth-watering braised lamb to sea scallops topped with sinfully good tomato-truffle butter, Passionfish is a delightful experience. Vegetarians will enjoy a choice of salads that are far from boring.

The restaurant also boasts an extensive wine list with the added bonus of sustainable vineyards being marked as so on the list. The Passionfish website has an entire page dedicated to the restaurant’s wine “philosophy” and they explain that they want to “tempt you to try something new, unique and off the beaten path.”

We love that line of thinking and Passionfish’s loyalty to the cause of better, sustainable food sourcing!

review by Leeta-Rose Ballester, SOS communications intern

June 13, 2013

Good Eats with Good Intentions

Lovers of fresh sushi and Japanese fare will rejoice when they visit Geisha Sushi located in Capitola. The restaurant features an incredible list of sustainable, local items. The ocean-friendly menu is home to a wide variety, including sushi rolls, bento boxes and a great collection of specialty teas. There is also a large selection of organic and vegetarian courses to suit your needs.

As a joint effort with the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program, Geisha offers small educational pamphlets on the table that give customers a glimpse into the source of their fish. When you stop to think about the impact that fishing has on our oceans, it’s easy to see that this small restaurant is making a big difference!

The concept behind a menu devoted to sustainable, seasonal and fresh fish lends itself to a new experience for sushi lovers. Thoughtful and unique creations may replace some of the “classics” so be prepared for an expedition in culinary artistry. 

The upstairs location gives a great view of Capitola village and the cherry blossom theme is relaxing and cheerful. The service staff is knowledgeable and friendly to top off this welcoming environment.

Geisha Sushi has also teamed up with San Francisco’s Tataki Sustainable Sushi to take their ocean-saving effort one step further.  The restaurants have co-adopted Davenport State Beach and maintain regular beach cleanups there! Save Our Shores is proud to have made this ally.

200 Monterey Ave
Ste 3
Capitola, CA 95010
(831) 464-3328

review by Leeta-Rose Ballester, SOS communications intern

June 12, 2013

NOAA Webisodes: The Scientists Working to Save Us from Ourselves

Did you ever wonder about the research that goes into the marine life policies that we are fighting for?

Through cooperative efforts between a thoughtful community, non-profit organizations and a handful of hardworking legislators, the Santa Cruz coastline boasts a number of fishery regulations that are helping to rebuild fish stock. We can be proud of efforts made to bring back a flourishing marine ecosystem.

Rather than simply identifying a few species as off-limits, careful consideration is given into the impact and balance that regulation may have on both marine life and those that depend upon fishing for their livelihood. 

Countless hours are devoted to data analysis and assessment by marine scientists to tell us if we are following a management model that will be effective. The scientists examining this data are quite literally trying to save us from ourselves. Can we reverse years of overfishing and trawling damage? Will the fish replenish?

Now we can get a glimpse into uplifting stories about the individuals who are devoted to studying and protecting the ocean—our most valuable resource.

The NOAA Fisheries website has started producing a series of podcasts entitled On The Line that introduce us to scientists and the work they are doing to sustain and improve marine life.

The short, feature stories are quite simply inspiring. Amazing and unanticipated discoveries are being made every day!

article by Leeta-Rose Ballester, SOS communications intern

June 11, 2013

The Few, The Proud, The Beachkeepers


Seventeen volunteers braved the cool, misty air at Seacliff State Beach to participate in the first training and launch for Beachkeepers, Save Our Shores' new community-powered program. 

The numbers were small but the energy and commitment from those that attended was huge on Saturday.

Ali Eppy, a long-time beach crusader, said she was thrilled to become an official Beachkeeper.

“I can’t wait for the government to do this,” Eppy said, referring to the cleanup. “I have got to do this myself.”

Eppy added that deregulation trends and a spiritual encounter with a whale had added to her passion to protect the beach. 

The “last straw” she said was when she picked up trash along the shores of an island in the Galapagos—an island that had never been inhabited.

The Beachkeeper program is an expansion of the monthly Save Our Shores organized cleanups that seeks to connect and empower volunteers who want to do independent garbage pickups. 

Beachkeepers are encouraged to post their findings and share their experiences via social media such as the dedicated Facebook page and blog.

Director Laura Kasa was on hand to greet Saturday’s attendees and presented a special training regarding safety issues and instructions for conducting data collection.

Beachkeepers were given data cards to tally up their findings—mostly cigarette butts, water bottle caps and food wrappers.

Wrappers and containers from local business are an especially important thing to note Kasa said. 

She hopes that the data can offer patterns and Save Our Shores might be able to open dialogue with the businesses about alternative packaging solutions or incentives so that their trash doesn’t end up on the beach.

Barbara Sanford, 12, and the rest of Girl Scout Troop 11163, were eager to get started.

The troop is planning to join the Adopt-a-Beach program and wanted to get some hands-on, educational training on the shores before they start.

“We’re so lucky to live by it,” Sanford said. “It seems right that we should keep it clean.”

The Girl Scouts combined work with play by having contests to see who could the most unusual things.

Grown-up Beachkeepers who want to earn a prize can post 10 cleanups and earn a Save Our Shores ball cap, said Kasa. 

Although there wasn’t a giant turnout at the Beachkeepers launch, volunteers are hopeful that the use of social media and word of mouth will help the newborn program thrive. 

Future Beachkeepers who missed Saturday’s meeting can come to any Santa Cruz monthly cleanup, the third Saturday of every month, to register and receive materials to get started.

Another volunteer, Chuck, offered a different perspective to the program. He suggested that in the act of cleaning up the beach, people can also free up the clutter in their minds.

“In the process of picking up trash, we wander,” he said. “We’re shifting our perceptual mode. We’re focused on finding the small things.” 

           article, photos and slideshow created by Leeta-Rose Ballester, SOS communications intern