April 29, 2014

Plastic-Free Event Challenge #3

Prepping for a beach cleanup with 250 volunteers is no easy task, but Save Our Shores is not afraid of a challenge. 

Photo by Save Our Shores

The Santa Cruz Warriors joined SOS for a big beach cleanup at Seabright Beach on March 15th and we were so excited to invite everyone in the community!  In addition to the time it took for planning the event, there were also many tangible items necessary for the cleanup. We printed hundreds of waivers, packed three cars full of buckets, tables, and other bags filled with cleanup supplies, a sound system, and multiple signs! SOS knew that this was a cleanup like no other! 
Photo by Save Our Shores
A couple weeks prior to the cleanup, SOS helped the Santa Cruz Warriors order reusable water bottles for the first 150 participants.  This was our way of making sure our volunteers were hydrated and saying thank you to all who came out to support the cause.

Excitement and anticipation rose as the day of the cleanup approached. We knew the custom metal water bottles were on their way!  One day, four big boxes packed with reusable water bottles arrived at our office and we opened them to find each bottle wrapped in plastic. Our hearts sank as we started to comprehend the complexity of hosting a entirely plastic-free event. Our shock turned into frustration and immediately we began to realize the foolishness of plastic packaging.
Photo by Save Our Shores
This time we had to focus and think of creative solutions. We brainstormed and decided to use these as a substitute for dog waste bags since we were running low on Mutt Mitts for our beach signs on Seabright Beach and Twin Lakes Beach.

Large Beach Cleanup: Plastic Slip-ups
     Reusable water bottles came packaged in plastic bags...reused for dog waste bags!
     Blue tarps for cleanup teams were wrapped in plastic

Suggestions for Buying From Companies:
     Request the company you purchase from to not use plastic packaging material for items that are ordered and shipped to SOS

     When contacting companies use email tagline similar to: “Each and everyday is a plastic free day at Save Our Shores”

-Kim Marks, Save Our Shores Program Intern

April 28, 2014

MPA Mondays: Point Lobos

Photo by Denis Lincoln
Point Lobos, the "crown jewel" of California's State Parks, is one of our most treasured Marine Protected Areas on the Central Coast.  Named for the offshore rocks at Punta de los Lobos Marinos (Point of the Sea Wolves), where you can hear the barks of the California Sea Lions who call this area home, Point Lobos is a place of wonder.

Point Lobos is an area rich with local fishing history.  A few of the original buildings still stand today, you can even visit a cabin used to house workers from an old whaling station that operated from 1862 to 1879. 

"The Carmel Bay Whaling Company was operated by a group of Portuguese seamen from 1862 until 1879. In California there were only 16 shore whaling stations between 1854 and 1900, with only about 300 men involved."-Point Lobos State Park Webite

Where visitors now park, an abalone cannery once operated.

"Around 1899, a young marine biologist from Japan, Gennosuke Kodani, and recent land owner, Alexander Allan established an abalone cannery which was located at what is now the Whalers Cove parking area. The cannery was so successful it eventually accounted for 75% of the abalone sold in California. It stayed in operation until 1928, and was dismantled in 1933 when the property became a state reserve." -Point Lobos State Park Webite

Point Lobos is well known for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, SCUBA diving, and jogging.  Not to mention every aspect of its resources is of scientific interest. There are many rare plants, endangered archeological sites, unique geological formations, and incredibly rich flora and fauna of both land and sea which made it an ideal place to protect.

In September of 2007, Point Lobos became a Marine Protected Area to provide a safe sanctuary for the abundance of biodiversity underwater.

Photo by http://www.californiampas.org/
The red part of the map above shows the State Marine Reserve where there is no fishing or harvesting allowed of any kind.  The blue section in the map shows the State Marine Conservation Area where take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the recreational and commercial take of salmon, albacore and commercial take of spot prawn. 

Photo by Jim Patterson
Point Lobos is a very popular place for local scuba divers.  Recently, a few divers had an amazing encounter with an octopus.  If you are interested in going, be sure to make a reservation before you go.

If you are enchanted with this special place, plan an adventure to Point Lobos State Park, you will not be disappointed!

April 24, 2014

San Francisco Plastic Bag Ban Gets the Green Light from the Supreme Court

Last week the City of San Francisco won a long standing battle against the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition in the Supreme Court to move forward with their plastic bag ban.  

San Francisco led the way in 2007 with the first plastic bag ban in the country, eliminating plastic bags at large grocery stores.  However, they did not charge a fee for paper bags which led to an increase in paper bags and got the attention of the Save The Plastic Bag Coalition.  The coalition claims that paper bags "take more energy to produce than plastic, leading to an increase in greenhouse gases, and occupy more space in landfills." (sfgate.com).  With the increase in use of paper bags, they demanded a full environmental review.  "The city contended no such review was needed because the ordinance was environmentally benign, an argument that prevailed in court." (sfgate.com).

Since 2007, San Francisco added a $0.10 fee to paper bags and extended the ordinance to include all retail stores and restaurants as of October, 2013.  The fee on paper bags creates an incentive to bring your own bag which is much better than either paper or plastic.  

SOS commends the Supreme Court for this decision and we look forward to advocating for more plastic bag bans in California.  

April 23, 2014

Grocery Store Challenge

Photo by www.tatianaamico.com/
Shopping plastic free...it’s definitely easier said than done! Employees at Save Our Shores have had to become creative shoppers at our local grocery stores in order to avoid making plastic purchases. Finding items without plastic is incredibly challenging if you haven’t tried already! I’ve discovered that the two aisles with the least amount of plastic are usually the produce aisle (minus the produce bags) and where the bulk items are (minus their containers). They’re my favorite aisles to head to if I want to make trail mix or have fresh veggies and fruit for myself at home, but they’re not so great for hosting large events. The price starts to add up quickly if you’re hosting an event of fifteen plus people. Let’s be honest, one bowl of trail mix with chocolate covered goodies and other fun surprises will definitely be gone within the first five minutes. Especially if I’m there! 

On February 26th, 2014, Save Our Shores hosted Marc Shargel as one of our public speakers at the Sanctuary Exploration Center. It was an awesome event to not only learn more about the history of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, but a chance for our staff to celebrate our environment with guests and volunteers too! We had pizza donated by Pizza My Heart, beer donated by Ninkasi, and snack items from Staff of Life. Everything was delicious and for the most part recyclable, except for one item. One little slip-up prevented us from having the title of plastic free…Tortilla chips! They’re such a yummy and easy snack to bring to events, but are incredibly difficult to find without some type of plastic on their bag! Curse you little plastic window panes!

We ended up purchasing tortilla chips in a brown bag (yes! we thought it was recyclable) but with a closer look the bag had a clear plastic window right on front. Later we found out that the bag was recyclable (yay!), but the plastic window pane had to be cut out and thrown away. That’s okay though! This is all just a part of the learning process. After doing some digging into plastic free tortilla chip bags we found that you can order them in bulk from Staff of Life (PLU#131) ahead of time! 

Becoming plastic free doesn't happen in one day. It’s a process that will take time. We will keep track of the plastic that we accidentally use at SOS events and based on our data, we will be able to see which alternative solutions worked and where adjustments should be made. With that in mind, we bid adieu to the tortilla chips with their plastic window pane bags and say hello to whatever clever food combinations we come up with next! 

Plastic-free Food Suggestions for Large Events:
Pizza (Homemade or without the white plastic table top in the box from restaurants)
Snack Mixes from the bulk aisle 
Homemade pastries or desserts 
Beverages in glass jars (ie. Water, Juices, etc.) 

Photo: Associated Press

-Bronti Patterson, SOS Program Intern

April 22, 2014

Has Fukushima radiation reached our beaches yet?

Hear what credible scientists have to say about the safety of our shores and discuss the actions we should take to prevent nuclear disaster in the future.

When: Thursday, April 24 at 7 pm 
Where: The Center for Spiritual Living, 1818 Felt St., Santa Cruz

Presented by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom of Santa Cruz

Speaker: Dr. Kai Vetter, Co-founder of Kelp Watch; Head Applied Nuclear Physics Program, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will speak about what we know, if we need to worry, and what we can do.  

Speaker: Dan Hirsch, Lecturer on Nuclear Policy at UCSC, President of the nonprofit nuclear policy organization Committee to Bridge the Gap (between nuclear dangers and a sustainable future) will speak on what we should and can do about Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Followed by a discussion on possible actions we can take.

Moderator: Dan Haifley, Exec. Director of O’Neill’s Sea Odyssey, 2011 Save Our Shores “Ocean Hero" and environmental activist.  

Co-Sponsors: Save Our Shores, Santa Cruz Sierra Club, Desal Alternatives
This community program is free. Donations are welcome. For more information or transportation, please call 831-246-4440, http://wilpf.got.net.  

April 19, 2014

Local Volunteers Clean Monterey Bay Hotspots for Earth Day

Earth Day Cleanups a Huge Success with 316 Volunteers and over 1,500 lbs of trash!

Volunteer fills out her data card at the
San Lorenzo River cleanup at Water Street Bridge
SOS hosted five cleanups around the Monterey Bay and, with the help of 316 volunteers, prevented 1,505 pounds of trash and debris from polluting our waterways! The most common item found was cigarette butts.  Volunteers also found 2 television sets, a tricycle, a bag full of horse hair, 19 tires and 2 mattresses at Elkhorn Slough.  Volunteers at the Tannery by the San Lorenzo River found a heater and a roll of plastic sheeting.  Last year’s Earth Day cleanup volunteers removed 665 pounds of trash at just three sites.  This year we saw an increase in both sites and total trash removed with five sites and over 1,500 pounds of trash.

19 tires found at Elkhorn Slough cleanup
The Earth Day Cleanup is one of the largest community efforts of the year on the Central Coast. SOS is thrilled to have increased the Earth Day Cleanup effort by adding the Triple M Ranch site in Elkhorn Slough. The four remaining locations were Cowell and Main Beach, the San Lorenzo River from Water Street bridge to Soquel Street bridge, the San Lorenzo River behind the Tannery on River Street and Del Monte Beach in Monterey.

Elkhorn Slough at Triple M Ranch was the dirtiest site with over 800 pounds of waste.  Properties bordering the Elkhorn Slough are impacted by a high amount of illegal dumping.  SOS has been collaborating with local organizations to raise awareness about this fragile ecosystem and the harm that trash can have on marine life.  The San Lorenzo River at Water Street Bridge came in second with 257 pounds.  

“I was the most shocked when we rolled a jumbo TV out of a ditch right next to the gorgeous riparian marshland.  I am grateful to ALBA, the Marine Mammal Center and ESF for combining forces and removing so much waste.” said Rachel Kippen, Program Manager at Save Our Shores who lead the Elkhorn Slough site.

Thank you to the to all our partners including ALBA, The Marine Mammal Center, Elkhorn Slough Foundation, Whole Foods, The Tannery Arts Center, REI and Lindsay Jackson for their assistance in making this event a huge success.

Art Pitts helps out by hauling in trash from the
San Lorenzo River behind the Tannery on River Street
Needles found at the San Lorenzo River at the
Tannery on River Street
Sara Hutto volunteering at the Cowell and Main Beach cleanup today

April 17, 2014

Scotts Valley Decides to Keep Plastic Bags....For Now

Plastic bag found at Carbonera Creek in Scotts Valley.  Photo by Haig White
Scotts Valley City Council held their regular meeting last night, April 16th.  One of the first agenda items was the potential plastic bag ban for the city.  Scott Valley is the only jurisdiction in Santa Cruz County that does not have a ban on plastic bags.

The council decided to wait for the State Legislators to move forward with the state-wide plastic bag ban, SB 270.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reporter Calvin Men, reported on the meeting:

"The Scotts Valley City Council opted not to adopt the ordinance Wednesday night, citing pending state legislation that would ban plastic bags to an extent.

Though Councilwoman Stephany Aguilar made a motion that would have started the process, it failed to gain support from other members of the council.

The proposed ordinance considered several options, including whether to charge a fee for paper bags if plastic bags are banned or continuing to use plastic bags. Another option, modeled after a proposed state legislation, would ban plastic bags at retailers with gross annual sales of $2 million or more or with 10,000 square feet.

The decision came after hearing from dozens San Lorenzo Valley residents and environmental organizations who gave varying opinions on the matter. Some advocated for the ban of the plastic bags and a fee on paper bags to encourage residents to get into the habit of using reusable bags."

Read the full story here

April 10, 2014

Join us in celebrating Earth Day!

Save Our Shores will host four cleanups for Earth Day on Saturday, April 19th

Earth Day is almost here and we want YOU to be a part of the solution to ocean pollution.  SOS is focusing efforts on beaches and inland locations in need of some extra help this Earth Day where volunteers will have the greatest impact.  SOS will host two cleanups in Monterey and two cleanups in Santa Cruz including a free yoga class, a potluck and giveaways for participants.  

Cleanups in Monterey at Elkhorn Slough and Del Monte Beach

Photo by Paul Zaretscky

The Elkhorn Slough Watershed cleanup will take place at Triple M Ranch from 10am-Noon.  This is the first cleanup of its kind and it is in partnership with the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) and the Marine Mammal Center.  Volunteers will meet at Triple M Ranch at 420 Hall Road in Las Lomas, ALBA’s Farm Training and Research Center.  ALBA educates local farmers on sustainable and organic farming practices in the Elkhorn Slough Reserve watershed.  Due to a huge increase in illegal dumping at sites surrounding the reserve, SOS designated this region as a 2014 Hotspot.  The cleanup will be followed by a celebratory potluck where participants can purchase local produce from ALBA and win some new gear from REI.

The beach cleanup at Del Monte Beach is from 10am-Noon.  Del Monte Beach is one of the most popular destinations in Monterey and boasts a great view of our entire National Marine Sanctuary.  As a treat for volunteers, local yoga instructor Lindsay Jackson will lead a one-hour yoga session at 9am.  The check-in table will be located in the beach parking lot next to Municipal Wharf #2.

Cleanups in Santa Cruz at Cowell and Main Beach and the 
San Lorenzo River at Water Street Bridge

Photo by Lauren Dockendorf

The cleanup at the San Lorenzo River will be at the Water Street Bridge from 9am-11am.  The San Lorenzo River has been a major focus for SOS over the past few years, and it has been consistently improving.  Help to continue this effort and join this cleanup.  The check-in table will be at the San Lorenzo Riverway path in the San Lorenzo Part right next to the pedestrian bridge.

The beach cleanup at Cowell and Main Beach is from 9am-11am.  The Cowell and Main Beaches are located right next to the famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk, making them the most popular beaches in Santa Cruz.  The check-in table will be at the Cowell Beach stairs near the parking lot next to the Dream Inn hotel.  

“Earth Day is a great opportunity for everyone in our Monterey and Santa Cruz communities to show their appreciation for the ocean paradise that we have here by participating in one of our four cleanups this year,” said Laura Kasa, Executive Director of SOS.

Materials will be provided at all four cleanups, but consider bringing your own buckets, gloves, bags and reusable water bottles to help reduce trash. Individuals and groups welcome.  If you plan to bring a group of 10 or more, contact volunteer@saveourshores.org.  

If you would like to register for the cleanup ahead of time, visit our website at www.saveourshores.org/earthday.

April 8, 2014

Get to Know Your MPA Monday

Elkhorn Slough Marine Reserve

Imagine a place where you can see a variety of migrating birds, leopard sharks, harbor seals and the largest population of sea otters along the west coast, all in one afternoon.  This is the reality at Elkhorn Slough Reserve.  Because of the amount of diversity in this 1,700-acre slough, it was declaired a Marine Reserve in 2007, the highest level of protection for a Marine Protected Area.

Photo by Ted Belleza
Elkhorn Slough wasn't always the haven it is today.  Back in 1913, the land was owned by Empire Gun Club who used it as a hunting marsh.  They even installed dikes to create a string of ponds for duck hunting.  After the Gun Club left around 1940, the slough was drained and transformed into a pasture for cattle.  Some of the original barns can still be seen at the slough (pictured below).

Photo by Miwa

It wasn't until 1979, when the Department of Fish and Wildlife purchased the land, that the restoration of this important estuary began.  The dikes were removed and the estuary was filled with brackish water (a mix of ocean and fresh water).  

This unique habitat attracts visitors from all over the world.  Especially bird watchers who come to see the extreme range of over 340 species who migrate through this area and some that live there year-round including the endangered Snowy Plover.

Photo by californiampas.org
The Elkhorn Slough Marine Reserve was established in 2007 with the rest of the Central Coast Marine Protected Areas.  The reserve boundary starts about a mile upstream from the Highway 1 bridge and extends all the way to the dock at Kirby Park.  The remaining mile in between Highway 1 and the reserve is the Elkhorn Slough Marine Conservation Area which allows only for fishing and harvesting clams, all other species are protected.  

Are you interested in visiting this mystical place?  You can rent a Kayak from our friends at Kayak Connection, trust us, you will not be disappointed!