Insult to injury – proof of toxic pollution

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As if picking up pounds of trash from beaches weekly isn’t sad enough, I am also observing tar sticking to the plastics. Plastics float in the ocean and so does tar/oil. So naturally, the tar hitches a ride with the plastics as they make their way to beaches.

So people, proof right here, that we have a serious problem. I don’t just find plastics with tar/oil once in a while – it is all the time. You may ask how do I know it is tar/oil… the smell is quite profound and distinct. The beaches I frequently visit are Surfer’s Beach in Half Moon Bay, Montara State Beach, Gray Whale Cove State Beach and Ocean Beach at Sloat in San Francisco.

Possible Sources

It would not surprise me that the tar or oil’s primary source is from the shipping industry. Professor Kirstie Stramler of City College San Francisco states, “Tar can and does occur from natural seeps, or it can arise from minor leakages in offshore drilling.” 

What can we do about it?

What kind of corporate responsibility does the shipping and oil industries have with the environment? I do not know the answer. If not already, the industry should be paying taxes that go directly to environmental organizations that conduct clean up and conservation work. Taxpayers should not be picking up the tab – corporations on land and sea, should be leading the way for environmental responsibility!

The pollution problem is systemic and to be blunt, we all support it in some way. How many items in your household are shipped from another country? How many of us depend on car oil? I do honestly.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

As individuals, we can make a dent by finding ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Of course it’s a no-brainer, that toxic substances should not be poured down drains and street drains. There are facilities that handle toxic substances and businesses that will take used oil free of charge.

If we do not make drastic changes in the way we operate on this planet, there is no way the ocean can reverse the damage we have done fast enough. It is imperative at this point that we all find ways to help protect the environment as our survival depends on it.

Research

In coming months, I will be collecting all plastics that I find with oil/tar and documenting which beaches I am find them at to get a more clear picture of the amount of oil/tar pollution and locations.

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Tests & Breathers

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Atoms flying around and bumping into each other and making mass – that is how I equate sentient beings, coexisting on this planet. In the end, it is totally random how things turn out each day. We can plan for life but at some point, the cards fall, or atoms bump into each other, as they may. I have learned time again to let go of attachments, as not everything can be controlled and/or changed and to try and learn from situations and move on.

Test Number 1
The first day of my Winter holiday vacation started off with being present with my online international spiritual group. A member posted something centered around how he thinks everyone should “wake up” and that most of humanity is “arrogant” and “lazy”. While there may have been some truth in what the member was saying in a very long diatribe, calling the masses names is not a good strategy. I conveyed that compassion is in order for humanity and the source is fear – not laziness or arrogance. I learned quickly that this person was not going to hear a word I was say as his response about being compassionate, is that it is just misinformed “New Age” unicorns and rainbows bullarky. One of the last things this person said was, “have fun playing with your Barbies on Christmas.” That statement was not exactly the route to my good side!

What was it about compassion I was saying?

The testy “life storm” started rollin’ in, almost coinciding with the real storm that poured last night. I knew right away, that today was a day of tests. I have observed the ebbs and flows of life  enough to know that there are times when life offers calm waters, and other times when the storms set in to test if I mean what I say, and say what I mean.

~Breather~
So excited I was to jump out of bed, throw on some clothes, comb my hair and grab an apple on the way out the door to meet Ji and her daughter at Ocean Beach for beach cleanup! I made my way up The Great Highway, and parked my car to meet crisp air, sparkling white-capped waves, the brightest sun peeking through sweeping clouds, the youthful spirit of a little one and mom, Ji. We got to work quickly, picking up trash on the beach.

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20151219_112123This morning was special because it was the first time I had the privilege of doing a beach cleanup with a four year old! She did such a fabulous job. A special tip of the hat goes to mom, Ji for showing her daughter the way to valuable community service at such a young age!

I took a break for a little bit to watch River watch the waves. Children… they are our reminders to not forget the simple wonders of the world. I observed River’s fascination with the waves – how they flowed in and quickly recede. She ran back and forth chasing the movement of the ocean and at one point stomped on the receding wave’s foamy residue to squash it! We had the classic discussion on how you never turn your back to the ocean. She said to me with such self-assuredness, “I know!” My amusement continued as I observed River assert herself with such firm independence!

Test Number 2
“I’m hungry”, says River from the back seat of the car. We giggled about a “hungry stomach monster” – a distraction from River’s antsy hunger – a stomach with green lips, yellow eyes, and pink skin that’s slimy like noodles. The storytelling held us over until we made our way to a restaurant. We sat down at the table and seconds later, an angry woman got up and stood beside me and in an angry outburst said to me, “You bumped me into the table! You pushed me into the table! You should be much more considerate of others!”, as she motioned with dramatic hand gesticulations. I told her I was sorry and that I did not mean to bump her… but I knew that the bump was not as dramatic as she was making it out to be – it was more about an opportunity to emotionally dump that had nothing to do with me. Needless to say, Ji, River and I dined at another restaurant across the street.

I faintly remember talking about compassion earlier – what was that about again?

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Coffee time! A random stranger took our photo and texted it to us!

~Breather~
Coffee time it was! Us three ladies made our way to the coffee shop and relaxed at the parklet in front of the cafe. We got to see the “Hungry Monster” come to life on the sidewalk with chalk by little artiste, River. Shortly thereafter, we said our goodbyes and I made my way south on The Great Highway back home. I decided to drop in at Montara State Beach. The garbage problem has been pronounced there since the storms, so I thought I would clean up the other half of the beach that I had missed the last two times I have been there.

Test Number 3
Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 11.31.36 PMWhile my final test of the day was not another “aggro” human, it was still a test none-the-less. I spotted a dying young Common Murre sea bird. Sitting only five feet away, It moved its head slightly, acknowledging my presence. Watching wildlife pass is definitely not easy. I tried to think of solutions to solve the dying bird problem but I resolved to understand that it was not my battle. I sat with it for a half hour and sent it loving feelings. I did not send the bird thought/prayers for it to get better – as life will do its thing, regardless of what I hope it will do. On my first day of vacation, the bird represented letting go of attachments of how I want or expect things to be and learning to accept what is.

I got up and made eye contact with the young lady sitting at the base of the cliff about fifty yards away. I was thinking I should go talk to her about the bird but I did not have to. I was concerned about the two little boys who were unknowingly approaching the young Murre – that they would stumble into it and stress it further. I sent her my thought and she received it. As I made my way down the beach, I looked back – the young lady took my place and watched over the ailing bird. The father and two boys did not stop and let the bird and young lady be.

Am I still compassionate? Good thoughts for angry French man online – that he may see the source of the issues that is humanity’s fear – not arrogance or laziness; good thoughts for the angry woman who felt disrespected – that she may feel more love in her world; gratitude for the young lady who heard my thought and took my place, standing guard over the baby bird and good thoughts for the baby as it makes its journey to the other side. Was this all easy? No.

~Breather~
Gratitude for my roommate who randomly gave me a big bar of dark chocolate when I got home!

Due to the warming waters of El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, it is causing a die-off of nutrients and effecting the food supply for wildlife. Most likely the young Common Murre was starving and too weak to find food.

Garbage in, garbage out

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While receiving my token education on diet and nutrition in high school in the 80s, I was quite happy to stand in line at the school cafeteria for that doughy bread, oozing with cheese for breakfast and greasy french fries and a burger for lunch. Every single day, I had a selective amnesia on how the lunch made me feel the previous day – complete with the biological program of grease making its way to the surface of my facial skin – which only amplified my teenaged awkwardness. Seriously though, do you remember that cheese bread?!

10407979_799069750132598_3171599242873546550_nWake up call

But eventually, I hit rock bottom with that type of fast food diet. My thyroid levels were so out of balance that I was hospitalized for two days and placed on multiple medications. After I was released, my (late) mother was so concerned, she drove three hours to visit me. She and my friend, Kaati took me out to dinner and they asked what I had generally been eating and they said, “Kristine, that is not good – those are processed foods!” It was then it started to sink in what processed foods really meant and the gravity of them.

sidesEven though my mother came straight out of the WWII generation when processed foods and soda-pops were first starting to be developed and were all the rage, she had practical smarts with an unfiltered B.S. meter for all things life, and especially about food. The best advice she ever gave me was, “Kristine, when you go shopping, avoid the middle of the grocery store where all the processed food are – stay on the sides where the fruits and veggies are.” Fast-forward at least twenty-five years and my mother’s advice is still solid. Unfortunately though, she passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from a lifetime of smoking at age 74, but she did eat well and was a great cook!

Non-processed foods = not sick

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Chop favorite veggies, throw in some beans, sauté, eat and done = not rocket science.

Throughout the years, my diet would ebb and flow according to the construction of my life. But the time I have spent as a college student on a tight budget my diet is fairly squeaky clean. Contrary to the misinformed belief of many, eating healthy actually saves money. The fresh, whole food staples are really not that expensive and I only visit the doctor once per year to get my thyroid levels tested. Eating fruits and veggies, beans, lentils nuts, seeds, brown and wild rice, free-range eggs, some dairy, along with regular exercise, I stay slim and I feel good. Refined flour and sugared items are an absolute no-go. My idea of a flu vaccination is incorporating garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and honey into my dishes on a regular basis. The most significant change is that with my clean diet, combined with regular exercise, I rendered medications unnecessary.

I’m glad those junk food days are over but…

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People left their tokens of appreciation at the beach: non fair-trade chocolate, phony flavored GMO corn chips and glycemic index roller coaster ride trash.

While getting my sunny vitamin D intake while hiking the beaches for beach cleanups, I walk away with a grocery bag that is at least half landfill waste, consisting of plastic packaging from processed foods and junk food. Another quarter of the bag consists of recyclable plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans – most of which are high fructose juices and alcohol. None of it contains any real nutritional value. Society has become so addicted to the sugars, salts, phony flavorings and preservatives of “quick-fix” packaged and processed foods, that it inherently has become the majority of our trash on beaches and trails.

I would be remiss to not mention that in addition to the ingestion of fake food at beaches, its common for me to pick up at least 25 cigarette butts during a visit as well. It is all a nasty concoction for disease, but yet few seem to recognize the correlation between what they eat and their illnesses and spend a great deal of time running to the pharmacy for “feel better” drugs and visiting the doctor because they came down with the flu. It is unfortunate that we have become a society where garbage in, garbage out, rules. I wish society would catch up with me and the many other “awakened ones” out there!

The corporate food matrix is starting to fall…

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Serious Kristine meets slab of mystery meat. Some how my discernment got lost as I got older but I’m back!

Despite our serious trash and nutritional issues, people are starting to wake up regarding processed foods and specifically, animal meat consumption. I was curious about public perception as to why people are switching to vegetarian or vegan diets – so I conducted a poll via social media. The majority believes it is due to increased awareness of factory farming over medical conditions or spiritual convictions. We are also becoming more aware of how factory farming is extremely detrimental to the environment [11 Facts]. In any case, it is looking like people are making the switch for the love of animals, or in the least, being more conscious of the source of the meat such as “free range” from small farms. I believe in the years to come, this public awareness about factory farming will have a significant and positive impact on the general health and wellbeing of society, as well as, incur waste and pollution reduction.

Listen to mom

The wonderful thing about being human is that we have free will to choose how we want to live and not only that, most of us have oodles of choices! Just go to the grocery store… how many brands of peanut butter are there? With that said, instead of garbage in, garbage out, we can choose to stay on the sides of the grocery store like what mom says and treat our bodies well. And of course it has the added benefit of being much more gentler on the planet. Bring your reusable shopping bag and load up on fruits and veggies and buy beans and lentils in bulk. The payoff for ourselves and the planet is priceless.

Are you noticing society changing their diets too? Have you made dietary changes or are planning to? Feel free to comment below…

 
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The “Green” word

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Full o’ Gen X ‘tude!

Following much of anything has never been my thing. Whenever the masses go “to”, I’d naturally go “fro” without much thought. It hasn’t necessarily been because I just have this thing about being a rebel, it’s more about finding my own way, within my own timeframe, with a “Kristine” stamp on it. I suppose I am a proud, rebellious Gen X’er – I’m so on the outskirts that even though I am an artist, I would not be caught dead at Burning Man. Burners thinkin’ their so original by riding their bicycles in the desert naked with a pom pom, singing blue grass to a trance beat. Followers I say! That’s okay, I will gladly stay at home in solitude and work on my sculpture in my pajamas and show it off when I’m ready… and clothed in something boring.

Green BS Meter on High Alert

Silliness aside, when the “green” or “eco” movement started to develop a little over twelve years ago, I observed with cynicism and eyes rolling. I’d question the authenticity of the products and/or services and wonder how educated the companies were on every aspect of what they were producing or offering. I wondered if this was just another marketing trend with companies enthusiastically using the words, “green” and “eco” to target supposedly conscious followers who happily jumped on the “environmentally friendly” bandwagon. And of course I’d question why the prices were so high when they’re trying to, ahem, “save the planet”. It fueled my irritation that if humanity was really serious about saving the planet, we’d all try and figure out how to make being environmentally friendly affordable for everyone.

When “organic” foods started to be marketed at mainstream grocery outlets, I first questioned if they were really organic and defaulted to believing it was just the latest marketing scam to sell to the lined pockets of gullible and privileged yuppies. At the time, I was priced out of the organic market anyway, as I was running a household where the majority were voracious males. There was no way I could afford to buy fancy organic foods, and to be perfectly honest, I was turned off. So, conventional foods it was, but I have always have been educated enough to know that processed foods should be kept to a minimum. That was not a a popular idea in my household, but conventionally-grown fruits and veggies were in my fridge and you know what? We didn’t die.

I showed up to the back door of the green movement.

It has taken almost twelve years for me to warm up to the “green” or “eco” movement. My love for nature, hiking and the ocean, combined with being health conscious, has led me to the back door to participate in “saving the planet”. Trash on trails and beaches has always been disturbing to me – so of course I’d end up helping to clean them up. Additionally, I have the genetic disposition for hypothyroidism, which pushes me to have a very specific (and clean) diet, resulting in purchasing 100% organic foods for at least a year now. My abhorrence for big pharma and medications only adds fuel to the fire to take care of my body well, as I refuse to hand over any money to any pharmaceutical company to balance my thyroid hormones.

I showed up to the Green Festival.

GreenF_tagl_vert_660x360I guess this means I have officially arrived to the green movement! But it only took me five minutes for me to fully grasp that the center focal-point of the festival was consumerism, where big money was to be made. In the back of my mind I already knew it, but seeing it firsthand, I understood that many – mostly small businesses – were working hard to “seal the deal” with new customers. I took a deep breath and knew at some point my irritation level would start rising and told myself to behave in the frenetic energy, loud voices and people trying to sell me stuff.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 10.56.47 PMConcurrently, there were speakers scheduled throughout the weekend, covering topics ranging from commercial toxins reduction, fracking, sustainability, green technology – to diet and nutrition and self-help topics. My buddy, Ji and I learned about “Ferment Your Way To Health”. The entrepreneur, author and nutritionist, Karen Diggs certainly was successful in inspiring both Ji and I to boot up fermenting, a.k.a., “pickling” veggies for their nutritional benefits.

Kristine the consumer

Like I really needed bake mix!

Like I really needed bake mix!

My “anti-stuff” value was tested and I failed miserably. Within an hour, my tiny purse was overflowing with samples and my hands were full. My “limit stuff discernment” went out the window as I came home with multiple granola and seed bars, hemp seeds, a branded measuring spoon, miso soup mix, reusable fabric bag, stickers, a wooden pen and baking mixes when I don’t bake. It’s now six hours post event and I have managed to eat four granola-type bars, one after another. Oh no… there’s no spreading these treats out over a week… I need to down them and “clean up” my space – just too much clutter. Not only did I show up to my first “green” event, I went against my personal beliefs on limiting stuff in my life and consumed like a maniac!

The elephant in the room

I'm a fraction healthier now as I ate seeds but bah bye to plastic wrappings to landfill.

I’m healthier now because I ate seeds, but goodbye to plastic packaging as they travel to landfill and continue their retirement for about 600 years.

While I sincerely enjoyed the festival, I also observe paradoxical issues. On one hand, there were many organizations working hard to represent and receive support for their environmental conservation work, while on the other, food companies were doling out products in single-use plastic packaging that will end up in landfill for a slow death of approximately 600 years. The bottom line is, we live in a world were it is driven by consumerism, and I – just like everyone else, gets caught right up in it. And this is where my frustration began so many years ago when I questioned the “green” movement to begin with. If a company is going to market that they are “environmentally friendly” and participate in the Green Festival, then they really need to stay true to that with all aspects of their business from behind the scenes production – to what they distribute.

csr1-dark-underbellyBiodegradable food and product packaging is available and on the market. So, why is it that these companies who participated at the Green Festival, not implementing them? I am assuming that it’s costly. So this leads me to my next question about corporate responsibility. At some point, our economy really needs to see the bigger, long term picture of what’s at stake. It seems a bit obvious to me that the “feed me now” culture we live in, will cost a hugely unstable environment in the future. Perhaps it could be perceived as happening now.

It’s twelve years or so into this bourgeoning green movement – my 71 year old mentor, Glenda, would say 20 years – but I can finally admit that as compared to most people in my circles, I’m pretty damn “green”. I recycle, I compost when I can (my current household not on board yet), I do my environmental beach cleanup work at least three times a week, I’m loyal to my reusable water bottle, I invest in my health and buy organic food, I’m conscious about water and electricity usage, I wear second-hand clothing and own a used car. The list goes on, but instead of me aligning with the green movement along with all those legions of humans out there, I’ll call it simply my Earth Respect!

Guess what the top 2 plastic beach litter are from photo

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Caps from single-use plastic bottles and single-use straws, win the prize for the most littered solid plastic item on beaches. Count the straws and bottle caps from water and juice bottles above and see if you can get the numbers right! Answer at the bottom of the journal.


On October 22nd, 2015, I went on one of my beach cleanup excursions and of course I collected a lot more than what’s shown in the photo. I weeded out the cigarette butts, plastic bags, cardboard packaging, fishing line, rubber bands, paper, tissues, styrofoam, rope and glass bottles. So from dialing the litter down to  just solid plastics, the most common are single-use straws and bottle caps from single-use bottles.

Staggering Statistics
Every single day, Americans discard and do not recycle 500 million drinking straws (National Park Service), and 50 million water bottles (PristinePlanet.com) per day.

Plastic bottles are particularly egregious. Sometimes they have up to four plastic parts including the bottle itself, the shrink band or a solid plastic strip, the bottle cap and a plastic lining within the cap. All of these parts have been found on the beach, and are in the photo above.

Few Minute Use, Hundreds of Years Lifespan
Straws and plastic bottles go hand-in-hand with convenience. Is that few-minute convenience really all that important, when we are harming the planet long-term? It takes a minimum of 500 years for these items to photo-degrade. Not only do these plastics take a long time to go away – if ever – they harm wildlife. If the video about pulling a straw from a sea turtle’s nose doesn’t convince you to stop using single-use plastics, I don’t know what will. They really need to be banned. Enough said.

Click on logo for Ban The Bottle campaign.

Click logo to learn about the “Ban The Bottle” campaign.

Beverage Container Solution: Stop convenience store shopping for drinks. Purchase a metal water bottle for beverages. Buy “drink” in bulk and fill up before you leave the house. I’ve had my same water bottle now for seven years and it still works great. I plan to use it as long as it does not leak, which means I will probably have it for a very long time! After you got your bottle, join the campaign to ban plastic bottles by visiting, Ban The Bottle and Think Outside The Bottle campaign by Corporate Accountability International.

Click on banner to visit The Last Plastic Straw campaign.

Click banner to learn about the “The Last Plastic Straw” campaign.

Straw Solution: Stop convenience store shopping and/or patronizing fast food restaurants where you end up with single-use straws. If you must visit these nutrition-less places (doh!), reject the straw! There are stainless steel, glass and biodegradable straws on the market if you just got to use straws. Visit Save Our Shore and The Last Plastic Straw to join the campaign to ban straws.

Count caps & straws challenge:
In the photo above, there are 33 water/juice bottle caps (and 7 other types of caps), and 15 straws. What am I going to do with those plastics in the photo? Something creatively profound. Hang tight for five-ten years… I will have a fine art exhibition!

Check out this video by RethinkDisposable.org:

Dead Birds on Montara State Beach – El Niño?

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Montara State Beach is approximately 16 miles south of San Francisco on HWY 1.

Went on my beach cleanup excursion to Montara State Beach, just south of Pacifica, during high tide this afternoon. If you want to be completely mesmerized by waves crashing down… this is the beach! There is a very steep decline in some areas where the waves meet the shore, creating dramatic wave curls and subsequent crashes. The undertow has got to be really dangerous at this location. I have been to this (almost) mile-long beach three times during weekday afternoons and every time I visited, I have been awe-struck by the waves, there hasn’t been that many people and it is relatively litter-free! However, there are quite a few deceased seabirds.

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Folks heed the sign and keep this beach clean.

There must be a team of volunteers that keep up with this beach or people do a good job of picking up after themselves. I hiked most of the beach and only came away with a three-quarters full paper bag. Most of the litter that I found were the typical plastics such as packaging, bottle caps, straws, plastic utensils and of course, cigarette butts. And luckily no garbage made my Jerk Awards, but there was two piles of dog poop. Hello, dog owners.

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Evidently, El Niño is making its presence known – we just haven’t been visited by the storms yet.

After spotting numerous deceased Common Murres (seabirds) at Ocean Beach in San Francisco during September, I had documented it here. That page has received a lot of traffic, so evidently, I am not the only one curious about the die-off. I had made an inquiry into Farallones Marine Sanctuary and the representative said that it’s related to the El Niño weather cycle and lack of food for the young Murres, but this year the rate of die-off is four times greater than usual. During an El Niño, there is a decrease in nutrients in the coastal ocean for the entire marine ecosystem to thrive on due to warming waters – thus, causing a die-off. Farallones Beach Watch states:

“Annually we expect to see a small ‘post breeding’ increase in dead Murres in September and October. However starting in August of this year, Beach Watch surveyors found much higher than normal numbers of stranding and dead Common Murre chicks. Historically in warm water El Niño years we do see higher numbers of dead Murres than other years. This year is no exception; our surveys documented more than 4 times the long term average number of dead birds in August. This event has caught the attention of the community at large.”

Today, I photo-documented 19 Common Murres (below), and then my cell lost its charge. I spotted 12 more after that. There was a part of the beach I didn’t visit, so I would say there’s approximately 40 dead Murres at Montara State Beach. I wonder what other factors could be causing the increase in die-off.

El Niño: it is a good reminder that absolutely everything cycles. And, California should be getting some water to relieve some of the drought stress soon.

Before the weather sneaks up, get out to this beach and do not let the amount of deceased sea birds scare you away – there is plenty of beautiful clean sand and space at Montara State Beach. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the increased die-off… what other factors do you think are causing it? Or on a lighter note, anyone else awe-struck by the waves at this particular beach?

Happier Montara Photos to “Clear the Palette”

Dead birds on Ocean Beach – why?

After I passed the third dead bird on Ocean Beach, I began to think it was abnormal. There were hundreds of people out enjoying the warm and sunny weather among at least 20 decaying sea birds of the same species, within a small stretch of beach at the end of Sloat Avenue. If you know what species of sea bird this is and/or anything about what could be causing this die-off, let me know by commenting below.

Other high strangeness is human behavior: I thought it was odd how people would plant themselves within a few feet of a dead bird. I don’t know… if I was visiting the beach, I would not want the sight and smell of death in the vicinity of my enjoyment of a beautiful ocean. In this case, ignorance is bliss.

Update 9/25/15: I had made an inquiry to Farallones Marine Sanctuary and these birds are “Common Murres”. According to Beach Watch, it is normal to see a die-off during August and September but the rate is higher than average this September of 2015. Kirsten Lindquist of Farallones Marine Sanctuary and the Beach Watch program speculates, “This ‘die-off’ that started last August, is believed to be due to the warm water caused by El Niño and lack of coastal prey the right size for the young murres. The murre chicks still cannot fly so they are limited to prey resources where ever they can float/swim.” Click here to visit Beach Watch for more information.

San Francisco’s Dumping Ground in the Ocean

Topographic map of SF-DODS disposal zone in the Pacific Ocean.

Topographic map of SF-DODS disposal zone in the Pacific Ocean. Image source: http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/dredging/sfdods/sfdods-map.html


Visuals come to mind such as whales dodging sinking concrete and tires, along with a general feeling of sadness. Ya know whales, fish and plant life… your lives do not matter to us humans – so we just crap in your house.

Garbage barge.

Garbage barge.

There is a disposal site 50 miles from San Francisco that is six miles in diameter. Details can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency website. EPA does not cover what exactly gets disposed of there, nor how they conduct the dumping besides loading up barges and shipping it out to the location with depths between 8,200 – 9,840 feet. These depths are considered “deep” – so their rationalization is that it is okay to dump there.

At what point will we create products that do not end up as landfill? If humanity keeps on reproducing at a rate of 130 million babies per year and consuming everything in sight, do you wonder if our existence will end up being one big wasteland at the end of the century? I think about the basic products I bring home, such as Kumato* tomatoes, so neatly wrapped in plastic. Multiply that plastic by thousands produced and distributed per year and we have one enormous pile of plastic that ends up being landfill.

Of course, I am not going to stop eating my tomatoes, lentils, rice and grapes – all bagged in plastic; it is what I eat to try and stay healthy. Is there not a way for the producers of products to be required to use 100% recyclable materials? I do not want to leave this planet a wasteland for anything living or yet to come into existence. I do my part in recycling every material I can. I throw the plastic wrappers in the recycling bin anyway – just in case it can be recycled. I do not know what else I can do considering I am not in the position to grow my own food.

What are the little things we can do every day to create less waste? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!


*I tried to find out how many Kumato products are produced per year on the Kumato website and come to find out, they are grown in Spain, France, Belgium and Switzerland! The only mention of location on the package is, Monrovia, California – the Trader Joe’s headquarters. This is a whole new ball of wax; I eat tomatoes that are shipped across the ocean. Perhaps not anymore.

An Ocean Beach gift

Rose quartz.

Rose quartz found on Ocean Beach, San Francisco.

I started volunteering for San Francisco Surfrider Foundation a few years ago and the second time I participated, Ocean Beach gave me polished rose quartz. A very sweet and unexpected surprise! Rose quartz, a symbol of love, reflected my own passion for keeping our environment debris-free! Our surroundings speak to us, it is just a matter of paying attention.