If Sally McKenzie didn’t live in Australia, I am sure she would be right with us at the Celine Cousteau event on October 22nd reflecting on how the oceans effects culture and community.  On what is called “long service leave,” Sal, a teacher in Melbourne, Australia, manned with her ipad as a photo journal, has been traveling for a month in South Africa (visiting her son), the island of Orkney Scotland (attracted to that island by a love of her family’s ancestry), Martha’s Vineyard (to check out the annual Derby and more) and Nova Scotia. Her passion is working harbors, lighthouses and communities by the sea. She has been emailing a regular group of family and friends about her journey and here are some of her ocean observations from her final destination, Cleveland Ohio where she is attending a conference:

South Africa by Sally McKenzie

Cape Town, South Africa by Sally McKenzie

 

How strange it is to be so far from the ocean after months of homage to the Atlantic.
This year, I have seen it from Cape Town, from Orkney, from Martha’s Vineyard and from Nova Scotia. And, in all of these places, it exerts a brooding presence that seeps into the consciousness of the people who reside near it.

It is both giver and taker of life. It is a millionaire’s playground from the deck of a yacht in Nantucket. It provides a livelihood from a trawler out of Menemsha.  It formed a natural barrier to prisoners hoping to escape from Robben Island in Cape Town’s harbour. It is a whale watcher’s territory in Halifax. A shark-infested beach in Camps Bay, Cape Town.

And, always, it is a force majeur- an entity not to be trifled with.

And now I am in the middle of continental USA.

Cleveland, Ohio, where the biggest body of water, and indeed it is a significant body, is that of Lake Erie. But we are a long way from the ocean.

Our taxi driver from the airport, a man who had classical music on his radio,said, “I’ve seen the ocean,once. I liked it.”

We who live by the sea, whose holiday memories are infused with beach and surf and sun, would be hard pressed to live too far from the edges of our island continent and yet take this privilege of proximity for granted. The lure of the sea, and the limitless possibilities it offers, is a seminal force in our lives.

Sometimes we need to go away to realise what we have left behind.

Sal and her husband JD live in Australia

Sal and her husband JD live in Australia

 

Celine CousteauIf you are of a certain age, the name Cousteau brings back thrilling memories of sitting in front of the rabbit ear antenna era TV with family watching the adventures aboard the Calypso of a particularly intriguing French man opening our eyes to the wonders of the ocean.  The legacy lives on with some of the Cousteau family continuing that passion for exploration in the natural world. W2O and The New England Aquarium are delighted that Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter, Celine, will be presenting “The World Beneath the Waves: Being Human in the Sea” about the intersection of nature and culture on October 22nd at the NEAq’s Simon Imax Theater.

Growing up with an expedition photographer mother and a seaworthy, scuba diving grandmother, Celine had role models whose life choices influenced her to feel like she could do just about anything. “These women naturally did these things that they loved” she says, and Celine was a young adult before she realized, because of her own choices, how strong those influences were. She was encouraged to seek her own career path and studied art and psychology (undergrad) and intercultural relations (graduate school) before starting CauseCentric Productions, a non-profit organizations with the motto line of “Exploring the World. Communicating the Stories. Connecting Humans and the Environment.”  She talks about her journey of doing many different things in her life (including her new role as a mom to her 20 month old son) as a “snaking path that recently has merged into one amazing place to be in” and she says she doesn’t take that for granted. Celine’s form of expression through careers in art, photography, storytelling and business have enabled her to “use different methods of communication to describe cultural and environmental stories” to her audiences. “This is my life, this is what I am doing and I want to maximize this for other people. Supporting causes makes me feel good.”

 

 

Bagnesia/HeatherHeather is a busy working mom who is thoughtful about her usage of single use plastic. She packs her children’s lunch boxes with care, limits her use of unnecessary plastic items and brings her reusable bags to the grocery story….unless she is having a bout of….BAGNESIA!  It happens to all of us. We head out to the grocery store with our list, are distracted by work or getting children into their car seats, get to the store and wammo! We realize that we have forgotten the reusable bags!  Should she buy another one?  Can she manage without one? (Did she read W2O’s blog about transporting groceries plastic free?)  Can her children help her carry items that can be transported without a bag at all? Will her husband chide her (again) about buying more bags each time she has forgotten them? What memory tricks could she use to try and remember those bags in the future?

W2O’s tricks for remembering your reusable bag:

  • Buy some really great bags that are small enough to fit into your pocket or purse. Small Footprint Family writes a great blog about figuring this out and recommends Envirosaxs, which fold up small and come in a variety of cool and pretty styles.
  • After unpacking your bags, hang them on the same hook as your car keys
  • Put your shopping list pad and list into a reusable bag. If you don’t have “listnesia” you will remember both!
  • Put a note or reminder in your car.  Conserving Now has an unobtrusive non adhesive cling sticker reminder that might be the perfect choice.DSCN3816

Always remember to wash your bags often and keep them for the specific use of grocery shopping. Designate other bags for when you are headed to the mall. Remember, even the smallest efforts will increase your awareness. Good for your health and good for our beautiful oceans.

 

The New England Aquarium shared this amazing story with W2O today:

BARNSTABLE, MA (Sept. 11, 2013). An approximately 650 pound  leatherback sea turtle that stranded at low tide in an isolated area of Sandy Neck Beach Park in Barnstable Wednesday morning was treated medically and released back into a rising tide in the early afternoon. New England Aquarium staff are optimistic about her prognosis, but they are seeking the public’s help should boaters or beach walkers re-sight the five foot long, black, soft-shelled sea turtle as she is swimming in Cape Cod Bay or near land.

Photo: Mass Audubon/ Ron Kielb

Photo: Mass Audubon/ Ron Kielb

The turtle was discovered high and dry by Sandy Neck staff in the mid-morning. Rangers called the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay, which acts as first responders for sea turtle strandings on Cape Cod. They in turn called the New England Aquarium for medical support from their rescue biologists and veterinarian. Given the isolated location, rescuers were ferried to the site by Barnstable harbormaster and a Good Samaritan private boater.
With near record heat and an exposed marine reptile in the baking sun, rescuers covered the turtle with wet sheets to keep the animal cooler. They also moved her on to a dolphin stretcher to lift her, if necessary, and  to also help contain the restless creature while they treated her. They found tags on the flippers of the adult female indicating that she had previously nested on a beach in Trinidad. That large island off the northeastern coast of South America is one of the principal egg laying sites for this highly endangered species.
For the Aquarium medical staff, they needed to make a crucial and time sensitive evaluation as to how sick was the turtle and why it might have stranded. Both Sandy Neck and Mass Audubon staff knew that once into this tidal backwater, many marine animals become confused. For a leatherback feeding on sea jellies, that would be even more likely as this species of sea turtle is generally in the open ocean and is less familiar with the fluctuations of tides.
For Connie Merigo, head of the Aquarium’s marine animal rescue team, she needed to determine was this a reasonably healthy animal that accidentally stranded in an unfamiliar habitat or a sick turtle that was debilitated and had essentially washed ashore. A moderately healthy animal could be released on the incoming tide while an ill turtle could be transported to the Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy.
At about 650 pounds, the leatherback was slightly underweight and not as fat as biologists would expect at this late point of the summer feeding season. The Aquarium’s rescue biologists took vital signs and drew blood. They entered a sample into a portable blood analyzer. Head veterinarian and noted turtle specialist Dr. Charles Innis looked at the results. To his slight surprise, the sea turtle’s blood values were within normal range. This turtle’s best chance at survival was to be released but with a little medical boost to help combat stress of the stranding and other existing minor medical maladies. Dr. Innis gave the turtle a long-lasting anti-biotic, anti-inflammatory and vitamin complement.
As the tide slowly rose and made the massive turtle more buoyant,  about ten Barnstable, Mass Audubon and Aquarium staff grabbed the handles of the nylon stretcher and moved her out to deeper water. On command, one side of the stretcher was dropped, water flooded in and the turtle swam out into deeper water. She took a breath and dove – always a good sign. A couple of staff sighted her further down the inlet. A nervous elation percolated through the rescuers – excited, proud but still concerned that this important animal survive so that it might one day this winter lay eggs on a beach in Trinidad.
The successful treatment and release of live leatherback sea turtles is an extremely rare event. Live strandings of this ocean-going turtle are very uncommon, but also little was known of their physiology and how to treat them since they have never been successfully kept in an aquarium anywhere. A few years ago, Cara Dodge, a former federal sea turtle official, enrolled Innis and Merigo in a field research study to temporarily live capture leatherbacks at sea, take samples and build more knowledge of their physiology.
Strangely enough, once published last summer, that information has been used twice to save live stranded leatherbacks. Last September, another leatherback of the same size stranded in Truro but was near death. After spending 48 hours in treatment with the Aquarium, the turtle was equipped with a satellite tag, released and successfully migrated down the East Coast.

Wasserman cartoon from The Boston Globe

Wasserman cartoon from The Boston Globe

In this day and age, with so much internet access bringing our planet closer and closer together, I would now consider most nations my neighbor. I text folks in Australia, facebook with people from Asia and Europe and tweet with the world.  I think it is time we begin to respect our “neighbors” when it comes to climate change and our own emissions and pollutants that effect our back yards and the back yards of our those friends thousands of miles away. Lets face it, we are the culprit of many of the issues that the islands in this article from The Japan Times (found on The Daily Climate, one of my favorite sites) refers to.  Nations are facing impossible predicaments; abandoning the home they love and making a move to higher ground.  What a sacrifice and a sad choice to have to make.

Interesting too, is the fact that the small Island Nations in this article are taking unprecedented steps to change their own footprints in recognition that there must be systemic change. “The islands, which produce less than 0.1 percent of the world’s emissions, say they are leading by example. Most have started to substitute the expensive diesel they must traditionally import to generate electricity with renewable energy, including coconut power — biodiesel derived from homegrown coconut palms to power cars and outboard motors. The Marshall Islands has converted its outer island communities to solar energy and Tokelau has become the first territory in the world able to meet all its electricity needs with solar power. The Cook Islands and Tuvalu are aiming to get all of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.”

Its our turn to make some changes and reduce our own emissions and waste for the sake of our neighbors (who unfortunately are the first of many populations to feel the direct effects of rising seas from a warming climate) and for our own good.  All too soon, we will be the ones having to up and move from our declining shores, relocating from places that we love.

 


Our W2O intern, Phoebe Racine gives us some “cool” to consider before she heads back to Dartmouth next week:

If you’ve been to downtown Boston lately you may have noticed a series of decorated earths on the Tremont side of the Boston Common, near Park St. Station and at Copley Square. Some are wrapped in knit, others you can climb inside of and one is covered in plastic debris. These sculptures are part of a campaign called, Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet. The purpose of the #CoolGlobes is to raise awareness about environmental issues and challenges us to consider our human influence on climate change. Boston is the 14th city worldwide to hold the exhibit.

Of particular interest is the globe titled “Reduce” by Israel artist Yair Engel. We see a globe covered in brightly colored plastic, plastic that holds our laundry detergent, cereal, hair products, and all of our everyday items. The “Reduce” globe reminds us just how dependent we’ve become on disposable goods. In Engel’s message at the bottom he writes that “within the past 35 years, the amount of trash each person generates has almost doubled from 2.7 lbs to 4.4 lbs everyday.” Ultimately he asks, “How can you slim down your trash can?”

If you would like to see Engel’s globe in person it stands one block south of the Park Street Station. Or you can view globes like his online by visiting the Cool Globes The exhibit is serious yet fun-the perfect outing for the whole family. Have you ever climbed inside a giant earth statue?

Tickets are on sale now!
Cline Cousteau save the date

It’s back to school time and W2O has some simple suggestions for making choices that are good for your family and good for our environment and oceans.  Cringing at the plastic sandwich bag these days? Me too. But what are the alternatives. How do we choose and invest when our little ones might be tossing the contents in the trash?  (Some training is required) Does your teen come home without the cap to the water bottle? (And the training never stops!) W2O has some tricks, reasonably priced options (well, one extravagance! Adults need to eat too!) and easy tips for you.DSCN3808

For the true investment: Whimsy Snak Pak suggested by Plastic Pollution Coalition

For the true investment: Whimsy Snak Pak suggested by Plastic Pollution Coalition

"Light my Fire" Kids Spork from reusit.com

“Light my Fire” Kids Spork from reusit.com

There are a ton of products out there. I've included the ones that are less costly here.

There are a ton of products out there. I’ve included the ones that are less costly here.

Sometimes you do need to reach for a sandwich bag substitute-choose these!

Sometimes you do need to reach for a sandwich bag substitute-choose these!

The "Reuseit" website is handy because it has replacement caps for almost all styles of reusable water bottles. http://www.reuseit.com

The “Reuseit” website is handy because it has replacement caps for almost all styles of reusable water bottles. http://www.reuseit.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

One of our W2O members recently enjoyed the guide I linked to on a previous post that helped decipher how to store vegetables without using plastic bags and wrap. She was intrigued at the idea of not using the plastic to store in the fridge but was still confused about how to transport the local produce and non packaged veggies home from the market. So, intern Phoebe and I decided to go on a shopping outing to see if we could give you a pictorial version of some simple tricks for avoiding single use plastic from the supermarket to your fridge.

Plastic is everywhere. If you are in tune to that fact, you will be overwhelmed with the amount in our supermarkets.  Even the organic markets and the Whole Foods of the world are struggling with how to avoid plastic packaging. Sometimes, even with best intentions, you can’t avoid it. Yogurts, breads, meats, some pastas, rice..well the list goes on-plastic is all around us.  Sometimes you have to just do the best you can. Here are some practical ideas that you can try to reduce the amount of plastic you take home.

 

  • Don’t be afraid of “the belt.”  Produce changes hands many times and lands on several surfaces before making it to your home. No need to wrap that tiny pepper (or lettuce or whatever) in a huge plastic bag, just make sure you wash your produce well before you use it.DSCN3795  
  • Pepper on the belthot pepper on the belt

 

 

 

 

  •  Choose local fruits and veggies and not wrapped in plastic.  Sometimes I know this is impossible, but if you look around you will find the corn in season to husk at home and the carrots that are not in the plastic wrap. Farmers markets are more and more popular but when they disappear in the off seasons, buying is more challenging.
  • Avoid those little container and opt for a larger one that you can spoon into a reusable lidded bowl. Bring a non plastic spoon to work!
    Phoebe weighing the choices.

    Phoebe weighing the choices.

     

No Thanks!

No Thanks!

Yes, Please!

Yes, Please!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Of course, carry your own bags, but for the bulky bigger stuff, just throw it in the carriage and then in the back of the car.  I keep an old milk carton in my trunk to contain bulk items like cereal and cleaning products.
  • Store produce in a damp towel (the guide above will help you) or buy a reusable produce bag.
  • Invest in a set of UFO or similar brand covers that are air tight, microwave safe silicon.Loading the carUFO on carrots
  • And finally remember, you probably won’t avoid plastic completely.  Even the smallest efforts will increase your awareness. Good for your health and good for our beautiful oceans.DSCN3802DSCN3803

Clint Richmond was instrumental in the creation and passing of the Brookline Plastic Bag Ban. He is also a member of the Green Caucus, an interest group within Brookline Town Meeting and the lead supporter of the ban. W2O intern, Phoebe Racine, interviewed Clint on July 25th.

Q. Why did you pushed for the Brookline Plastic Bag Ban?

A. There are 100 billion non degradable plastic bags used in this country every year. Plastic Bags create serious problems for aquatic life. Plastic bags from Brookline  can make their way into the Atlantic Ocean via the Charles and Muddy rivers. Our bylaw was modeled after a State Bill that has beed stalled for years, and passing it here not only puts Brookline on a sustainable path but demonstrates support for the Bill. This Brookline bylaw is simply an attempt to apply this proposed law at the local level. We also hoped it would inspire similar action across the state.

Q. How do you feel about the proposed Massachusetts Statewide Plastic Bag Ban?  Is this a law you would like to have passed?

A. Yes, I see the ban against polystyrene food packaging that we passed at the same time as equally important. Both have generated interest across the state. For example, Great Barrington and Manchester by the Sea have just passed similar bag bans.  Though, it’s important to remember that we weren’t the first town to pass a plastic bag ban.  In 1998, Nantucket passed a much more comprehensive packaging bylaw. Nantucket created a powerful model for others to follow.

Q. Do you think Brookline’s Ban will effect the current bill (H3438)?

A. Yes, because of Brookline and other towns, there is a lot more momentum than last year. Last year was good. Last year was the first time is got out of the Environment Committee.  With the media coverage and the three new towns that have passed similar bans, we have much more hope that it will pass this legislative session.