Month: December 2015

Birthday Wishes (from December 11th, 2015 aboard Sea Dragon)

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lisa pop

I celebrated my birthday at sea today by starting the day off with an early morning watch and as the sun started to rise, we were greeted with a pod of dolphin that stayed with us surfing the bow wake and the swell coming in under the boat for about 30 minutes. It was more than I could have asked for and a gift from the ocean that I will always treasure as a memory more valuable than any possession. I believe there were 36 of them to be exact – after all dolphins are way better than candles. I am not exactly sure what kind of dolphin they were, but they were small and very beautiful. I cannot wait to share footage from my Go-pro when I get time to edit and wifi to send it.

XX eating on sea dragon

On birthdays, people tend to always ask what you wish for. I cannot recall the last time that I wished for a material possession. I guess it’s age and being able to buy what you need when you want that has evolved my birthday wishes to something more significant and more beneficial.

Throughout the day, my fellow crew greeted me with several different versions of the birthday song, all equally beautiful. We had another day of science, watch shifts, and it was incredibly hot today, which I find myself complaining about a little even though I know I will laugh about it when it is freezing cold in February. I guess if I should have considered a birthday wish for cooler weather, but knowing the humor or being at sea, we’d probably get a storm instead.

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Although it is an experience of a lifetime, I think it also is important to share that this journey is not easy and should not be considered glamorous or that of a vacation – it is anything but. It is extremely hot with little air flow in the cabin. Our bunks are stacked on top of one another leaving very little air space. There are no shade trees in the middle of the ocean so even when you go on the deck for a breeze, the sun is a scorcher. Desalinated water is not amazing. It sort of tastes like what I would think drinking water out of dirty old shoes would taste like. I giggle as I type, only because it’s better to have a good laugh about it. Water is crucial no matter what it tastes like. We are constantly sweating – morning, noon, and night. It is an endless full time job just to stay hydrated. Even still, dolphins on my birthday keeps my mind off the heat, the sweat, and bad water. Perhaps I should have a birthday wish for a liter or two of refreshing tap water from home.

I was able to chat with beans (my husband, Wes) over the satellite phone for a bit this afternoon and it reminds me how much I miss him and everyone back home, especially on a day like today He wished me a happy birthday and relayed all the birthday wishes from family and friends – that was nice! I do miss him so much and I am grateful that he is holding down the fort and can send me good vibes via ESP.

Right now, I am drinking water and watching our resident scientist, Diana, use the microscope to look through the samples that we collected today. We found plastic fibres yesterday and some micro plastics the day before. Finally getting into the swing of it with the science is also a nice gift since that is, after-all, what we are here for.

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If I had a birthday wish this year and every year, it would be that my friends, my family, my neighbors, and people I have not met yet around the world will take part in a global effort to reduce plastic consumption, cut out single-use plastics from daily lives and routines, do more with less, reduce waste, reuse as much as possible, and vote with the wallet by making smart consumer purchases that reduce the negative impact on our community environment, our oceans, our health and thus work to establish a more sustainable economy that will benefit us all.

 

PS – Thanks Stella for the awesome card and vegan cake!!

eXXpedition bday card - Stella

Cheers!

Con mucho amor,

Lisa Rider

Amor La Mar

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lisa marsh mud

Making the unseen seen as it relates to ocean pollution and coastal conservation is as big of a deal to me as the ocean is vast. It’s been a life mission of mine since as long as I can remember. I often explain it as simple pride. I am a proud eastern North Carolinian, but with that pride comes responsibility. Making the unseen seen to me means bridging the gap between our coastal environment health and the significant impact on our own health, the health of our economy, and other things that some people consider much more important than the community environment as a whole. I often wonder if the significance to this is the disconnection many people have from the ocean and the lack of knowledge of just how important our oceans and coastal community ecosystems are to our survival as humans. It is easy to feel disconnected when the problem is not slap-in-the-face visible as it is when you live on the coast and feel the impact on a dail y basis, after all, we are visual creatures.
Being from a coastal community, the ocean is always on my mind. She, the Atlantic for me, has made me who I am, has shaped my career focus, sustains me, keeps me sane, keeps me fit and healthy, and keeps me focused on the road ahead. As a child, I grew up on the Intracoastal Waterway and found myself knee deep in marsh mud on a regular basis as a very small child. The highlight of my summer was playing with periwinkles on marsh grass, canoe fishing with my Dad for Blues and Spots, and heading out to the Banks on the boat to watch the wild horses and here my Dad tell stories of the local maritime history. Clam digging with my neighbor friends was something I grew into around age 8 and scars from oyster shells are prized forever marks that I like to call beauty barnacles.

At age 10, I took part in a beach cleanup project for Girl Scouts and found myself hooked on picking up debris. One of our local swim spots was a beach on Radio Island, i n between Beaufort and Morehead City, and it was constantly littered with bottles and glass at the time. Now that same area is littered with plastics and cigarette butts. Now, as a diver, I even find man made debris on the bottom there near the rock jetty.

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I learned to sail around 11 years old on small handcrafted dingy boats build at the Maritime Museum in my hometown of Beaufort. It was an awesome experience of channelling the wind and the water and getting a true feeling for channeling mother nature’s gifts. Like this expedition, it wasn’t all rainbows and kittens. I recall my first attempt at sailing which included flipping my boat, getting the mast stuck in mud, and using my full body weight to flip her over by leaning on the daggerboard. I also remember threatening to wear a football helmet due to the boom smacks to the head, but that soon pasted with experience. These experiences toughen you up, my Dad would say – he was right. Around the same time, I started volunteering at the local wildlife rehabilitator, the Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter, in the spring each year for a few years. There I saw first hand the impacts of litter on our native wildlife. Sea birds came in tangled i n fishing line or worse and it inspired me to do more to protect what I had the privilege to grow up and know as home. The following year, I learned to surf in Atlantic Beach by local legend, Buddy Pellitier, and I started to experience, even more, the power of our coastal environment and just how humbling she, the ocean, can be.

Lisa surfLisa Dive PR 25surf trip bear

In high school, I helped a friend who was a first mate on an offshore fishing charter boat out of Atlantic Beach and for the first time, I experienced being completely out of the site of land. It was also humbling, but magical and strangely liberating. It was incredible. I grew up on flat bottom skiffs in the bay, canoes, and small fishing boats, but I have never gone past the site of land with the exception of the ferry over to Ocracoke Island, and I found it very different. The experience really woke me up to how small I was. A drop in the bucket, I thought. Each day I was on the boat, I had a lot of time to reflect on the ride out and back. Some days a storm would pop up and things would get intense enough to remind me of how humbling she can be. I experienced this later in life as a diver heading out to a ledge or wreck with no land in site descending with blue skies and calm seas only to ascend 20 minutes later to dark clouds an d 6 foot swells. She has a sense of humor sometimes too.

Last night, on watch, Sarah, Emily, Stella, and I were chatting it up about how fair the weather had been and how we might need to make up some speed in order to continue to slow down for science during the mid day and also keep on schedule to get us to Guyana on time. Almost immediately after these words came out of our mouths, her swells picked up, a dark cloud creeped up on us, we picked up speed to 16 knts, and it started to rain. Did I mention her sense of humor?

A check of the radar confirmed that we were in the midst of a small storm and we closed the hatches (not a pleasant experience for those sleeping below – It Is Hot!). Perhaps it was Murphy’s Law due to our slip up of fair weather talk or a gift of good karma from her as a thanks for making the unseen seen, after all it was not a bad storm and it helped us pick up speed and make up some time.

Here we are, 14 women experiencing the ocean with no land in sight on a mission to make her seen with hopes that if everyone could experience her magic, her beauty, her power, her humor, her no-talk-and-all-action attitude, and most of all her significance to sustaining all life then perhaps they too would work so hard to protect her and make everyday decisions with her in mind, with us all in mind.

My personal connection to her is obvious. Born with salt water in my veins, growing up with marsh mud up to my knees, a scallop shell around my neck, surfboard under my arm, oyster knife in one hand, and a litter bucket in the other – its just life. The sweet salty air of home consumes me with the feeling of pride, but with that pride comes responsibility.

lisa black and white surf

Now, back at the helm with “Clutch” blasting in the headphones, we, eXXpedition, are on our way in the middle of this big beautiful ocean with no land in site and on a mission to make the unseen seen. “A sailors life for me…”

lisa ocracoke

Con mucho Amor,
Lisa Rider

Citizen Science aboard Sea Dragon

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XX lisa at the helm

My personal love for the ocean is obvious, but working on making the unseen seen to those that might not naturally express the same concern for protecting our oceans is a task that deserves exploring every angle possible. One of those angles that we are working on back home in eastern NC and here as part of eXXpedition is the concept of citizen science.

Citizen science puts collecting data needed for research in the hands of everyday citizens who are not scientists, but have an interest in helping to solve issues that greatly impact their community environment. One of my favorite citizen science tools is the Marine Debris Tracker App. It is available for download on any smart device and provides crucial data for tracking marine debris worldwide. Not only can everyone use it and therefore contribute to the science, it’s also fun. I use it on a regular basis during beach sweeps, roadside cleanups, and even picking up that blowing bag in the market parking lot. You can even link it to your favorite social media outlet and post what you picked up, map of your debris found (due to the apps ability to track lat and long), and even post a pick from your cleanup. It gets quite competitive amongst the world of trash talkers and beach combers.

xx lisa showing how recycling works

On eXXpedition, we are using the Marine Debris Tracker app for a few different projects. In Olinda, Brazil, we held a beach cleanup where we, along with two local non-profits, tracked what we picked up on the beach. We also tracked (as an observation) the debris that floated by the boat while we were anchored in Recife. Thousands of plastic pieces, hundreds of bags and bottles, and several sketchy items like syringes floated past while we were there for a couple of days before setting sail.

Marine Debris Tracker App

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(here I am presenting on marine debris and how to use the tracker app at a school in Recife, Brazil)

While at sea, we are using the Marine Debris Tracker app for observations (we have only found 1 plastic bottle so far), and to track the start and stop of our manta trawl sample collections. We also track other samples collected by recording GPS locations, water temps, wind speeds, and so forth.

Another new citizen science project being tested for the first time is what I like to call the Plastic Ocean Project Percolator. As a member of the Plastic Ocean Project crew, I wanted to collect some extra samples for ongoing efforts to study ocean plastic accumulation while also putting the data collection in the hands of citizens to expand the areas sampled and amount of samples collected. Bonnie Monteleone of UNCW and the Plastic Ocean Project and I put our heads together to come up with a method that might work to not only study plastic accumulation at the surface that is easy for everyone, but also using the same method with a different sample collection technique to capture samples at depth using diver citizen scientists.

eXXpedition POP project 1eXXpedition POP project 2eXXpedition POP project 3

If you have ever seen or read about plastic accumulation science, you have noticed that it takes several pieces of equipment just to get the water sample and filter it to see how many of each size of plastic shows up. It is not super high tech equipment for sample collection, but it is not cheap equipment that can be easily found in your local hardware store either. Later after the sample is collected and stored, then it can be sent to analyze in a lab.

So how can a regular Joe or Jane collect ocean plastic samples? We hope we have found a way and I am testing it each day we are at sea to then bring back to Bonnie and her students to analyze in their lab.

http://www.plasticoceanproject.org/

Here is the basic Citizen Science Micro-plastic Grab Sample Protocol:

(do not wear fleece or synthetic material while sampling)

Supplies:

Data Sheets (in clipboard)

Sea State guide (download or print from the Beaufort Wind Force Scale website)

GPS for coordinates (you can use the Marine Debris Tracker app for this too)

Pen for data sheets

Watch/Clock

Clean 1 liter bottle and cap (you can use a soda bottle, glass, plastic, or metal)

50 micron brown (unbleached) coffee filters (found in any grocery market)

the inside filter component to a coffee percolator for stability (filter holder) Reuse one from an old broken coffee maker if at all possible

Quart size ziploc bags to store the sample

Permanent marker for labeling bags

Thermometer for getting the water temp

Each time before you sample: rinse the bottle out several times with tap water then cover immediately. Do not open until you are ready to submerge the bottle)

When you are ready:

Fill out as much of the data sheet (contact http://www.plasticoceanproject.org) or make your own to include date, time, water temp if available, GPS, amount of water in the sample, conditions at sea, depth, and other notes.

Run your arms in the ocean to rinse off any potential plastic fibers that might be there (not necessary obviously if you are at depth).

Submerge the bottle in water to collect the sample. If collecting at depth, I recommend holding onto the hang line, take a look at your depth, slowly open the bottle keeping a tight grip on the cap, let water in, cap it, and store in a mesh debris bag tied to the anchor line while you enjoy a dive, and then collect your debris bag with sample before making your ascent.

Processing the sample:

Find a stable place on the boat to set up your paper 50 micron filter in the hard filter holder. Carefully poor the water through the filter and avoid overflowing. Water passing through the filter does not need to be captured. Try swirling the last bit to get it to pass through. Once content that it is emptied, you can close the filter upon itself flat and place in a quart size zip bag. Use one new zip bag per sample. Mark the bag with the date, sample number, and time. Once you have collected a few samples, contact http://www.plasticoceanproject.org for instructions on submitting your contribution to citizen science and the study of ocean plastics.

So whether you are cleaning up a river in-land, a beach, a roadside, park, or school, you can record data using the tracker app and water filter samples are encouraged to be collected in any and all bodies of water, both at the surface and at depth.

For more information about this and other citizen science projects, I encourage you to have a good internet search engine session and learn more about how you can contribute to important research being done around the world.

sea dragon

Con mucho amor,

Lisa Rider

Until We Meet Again

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To my fellow XX crew,
Nobody said it would be easy to make change in a world set on comfort and the ease of disposable resources. It takes fire, motivation, and passion which we all share.
Our journey that has tied us close as kinship and thick as thieves is only over if we choose.
I propose that our global community collaboration to only have just begun, to last the miles of distance, and stand to stand the test of time.
I am grateful for your humor, candor, and passion to make the unseen seen.
I will cherish your laughter, your smiles, and your stories of life, love, adventure, and overcoming hardships to make the unseen seen and motivate others to take greater responsibility to improve our global community environment.
Cheers to you, the change makers, wave riders, storm chasers, debaters, underwater obsessed, world leaders, and salty souls!
Con mucho amor,
LR, XX

Olinda Waste Audit part 1

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Well this is a rewrite so it might be a shorter version. I had my waste audit summary all typed up right before my phone died. Having written on the phone, I was probably more bummed than ever to have to rewrite it!

Residential:

The residential areas have a combination of waste baskets/crates at some of the houses. They are in about the same location as a US mailbox would normally be in a suburban neighborhood. These baskets are metal and you must bag your waste in order to keep it from going through the gaps in the crates. I have not seen any residential recycling to speak of and everything is going into the same bags. Also, and even right near these crates, which only some houses have, there are what I would call small open dumps. These dumps have household garbage mixed with tile, gravel, and yard waste. Some of these, and there are many, have burn spots in them where, it appears, folks are burning the waste to reduce the volume. Just right outside of the house we are staying at in Olinda there is an 8yd dumpster, slightly shaped differently than a typical US 8yd dumpster, and overflowing with, again, a combination of yard waste and household trash.

eXXpedition Olinda Waste Audits

Posted on

Well this is a rewrite so it might be a shorter version. I had my waste audit summary all typed up right before my phone died. Having written on the phone, I was probably more bummed than ever to have to rewrite it!

Residential:

The residential areas have a combination of waste baskets/crates at some of the houses. They are in about the same location as a US mailbox would normally be in a suburban neighborhood. These baskets are metal and you must bag your waste in order to keep it from going through the gaps in the crates. I have not seen any residential recycling to speak of and everything is going into the same bags. Also, and even right near these crates, which only some houses have, there are what I would call small open dumps. These dumps have household garbage mixed with tile, gravel, and yard waste. Some of these, and there are many, have burn spots in them where, it appears, folks are burning the waste to reduce the volume. Just right outside of the house we are staying at in Olinda there is an 8yd dumpster, slightly shaped differently than a typical US 8yd dumpster, and overflowing with, again, a combination of yard waste and household trash.
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The household trash consists of mostly single use plastics including food wrappers, lots of bottles (no one drinks the tap water here), cups, bowls, and so forth. There is not as much polystyrene styrofoam, but there is a lot of the polystyrene type disposable bowls and utensils. Tons of straws – most people I have seen here are even drinking their canned soda with straws and oh course there are folks drinking coconut water with plastic single-use straws as well. I brought my bamboo utensil set, but didn’t bring my straw, thinking I wouldn’t need it for the boat, but soon managed to learn to drink straight from the coconut. Aside from my overall shock of seeing open dumps, and many, just walking down the road, I also saw these open dumps on the side of soccer fields and pretty much all over the residential area.

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My thoughts are that these act as sort of a transfer station of sorts until there is a potential trash truck of sorts that comes to pick some of it up and my guess is that if the trash truck doesn’t come before the pile gets too large, that is when they burn some of it. With the lack of even waste pickup infrastructure there is no wonder that recycling efforts are next to impossible. This was a lot different in the city areas where I did see more recycling receptacles. Also in residential areas I noticed A LOT of litter!! Just like in the States, I found a lot of litter right near empty trash receptacles.

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Business:

The business areas where a little more established for waste infrastructure. Walking from residential areas to the business area I noticed more street side trash receptacles that resembled bins you would see in the US. Still no “twin the bin” or recycling on the street side, but real trash cans with no holes. I also noticed there was a mix of some residential that had the crates and businesses had the bins. I also noticed that the street bins had not only the normal bottles and cans, but quite a lot of yard waste as well. I watched as, what appeared to be a (for lack of a better word) street sweeper (man) was sweeping yard waste and bottles, and whatever was on the side walk, into the trash bins. There is a lot of yard waste (limbs and brush materials) from all the tropical plants growing along the sidewalks and so when they fall off…

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I also noticed within the business district area that on Wednesday there was an entire section of a sidewalk covered with yard waste (tree stumps, branches, brush). On my walk into town at around 9:30am it appeared to be 90-99% yard materials and then later on the walk back around 3:30pm a lot of the yard material was gone, but it appeared the yard material was in fact mixed with plastics and other debris. In the afternoon, and after some was picked up, it was mostly plastic debris including plastic bottles just strung about the sidewalk and plastic banners and so forth.

Walking further into the business district and more into the touristy area of Olinda, I found several shops with recycle bins. Most of these recycle “stations” are a three bin system – “Plastico, Metal, Papal”. I had a look in one of these stations on the walk through and found nothing. One the way back, several hours later, I found one can in the metal bin, but with a plastic straw in it, and one plastic bottle in the plastic bin.

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I also stopped in a cafe to use wifi and stayed there for several hours. Upon arriving there the trash bin at the cafe was about 60% full and mostly consisted of yard waste, again from the sweeping. Approximately 15% of the material in the bin was plastic and mostly consisted of PET – water bottles and one soda bottle. There was also a plastic bowl and spoon (the cafe also served a variety of sorbet). About 3 hours later the bin was 100% full (no one taking notice to empty, but it was not overflowing either). The bin consisted of, then, nearly 45% plastic (mostly plastic bowls and spoons), one additional plastic bottle, and no additional yard waste. I was tempted to take the bottles out and walk then across the street to the recycle bin – I should have!

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The hotel that I stayed at the first night, in Recife (Best Western) did have recycle bins in the room and also reduced waste even further by having refillable shampoo bottles in the shower instead of those dreaded single-use tiny bottles that consist of more plastic than actual shampoo. It was a lovely hotel and hit the spot after two days in airports, planes, and taxis. The hotel had one bin for “organicos” and one for “recyclables”.

Beach:

My first full official day in Olinda, I took part in a group beach cleanup with the eXXpedition crews and two local non-profits. The beach had very few bins. Only one for about a 5 block radius. There were no public restrooms at the beach and I saw human waste in the ocean. During the beach cleanup, I found used tampons, diapers, plastic wrappers, bottles, beer cans, cigarette butts, and hundreds of straws, plastic particles, and cups. It was like out of a nightmare. I thought it was bad to see people in NC laying on the beach next to and on cigarette butts and other trash, but this was people laying next to piles of garbage and the appearance to me was that there was a since of obliviousness. It made me sad, angry, and at the same time it made me feel very lucky and grateful.

Walking along the shore, I had to go into the water to collect several food wrappers and bags that were washing ashore. One local guy came up and had a long conversation with one of the members of one of the non-profits that was with us. The man appeared to have an interest in what we were doing and apparently had several questions.

The children’s’ faces were priceless. It was a look of confusion and wonder as they watched us pickup trash along beside their parents. I found it odd that the one single trash bin located in the area was nearly empty, but we were able to pick up around 15 bags or more of debris.

More to come soon…

Waste Reduction Wednesday: Waste Audit in Olinda, Brazil

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Here is a Waste Reduction Wednesday blog post and yes, I know it is only Tuesday, but this one is well over due.

This post is also a rewrite so it might be a shorter version.  I had my waste audit summary all typed up right before my phone died.  Having written on the phone, I was probably more bummed than ever to have to rewrite it!

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Olinda, Brazil is a bit of a art district of Brazil that is located right on the coast and while I am not versed in the culture or traditions yet, I have made myself very familiar with their solid waste trends.
Here are some general observations from a two day walking waste audit.
Residential:
The residential areas have a combination of waste baskets/crates at some of the houses.  They are in about the same location as a US mailbox would normally be in a suburban neighborhood.  These baskets are metal and you must bag your waste in order to keep it from going through the gaps in the crates.  I have not seen any residential recycling to speak of and everything is going into the same bags.  Also, and even right near these crates, which only some houses have, there are what I would call small open dumps.  These dumps have household garbage mixed with tile, gravel, and yard waste.  Some of these, and there are many, have burn spots in them where, it appears, folks are burning the waste to reduce the volume.  Just right outside of the house we are staying at in Olinda there is an 8yd dumpster, slightly shaped differently than a typical US 8yd dumpster, and overflowing with, again, a combination of yard waste and household trash.
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waste basket in olinda
The household trash consists of mostly single use plastics including food wrappers, lots of bottles (no one drinks the tap water here), cups, bowls, and so forth.  There is not as much polystyrene styrofoam, but there is a lot of the polystyrene type disposable bowls and utensils.  Tons of straws – most people I have seen here are even drinking their canned soda with straws and oh course there are folks drinking coconut water with plastic single-use straws as well.  I brought my bamboo utensil set, but didn’t bring my straw, thinking I wouldn’t need it for the boat, but soon managed to learn to drink straight from the coconut.  Aside from my overall shock of seeing open dumps, and many, just walking down the road, I also saw these open dumps on the side of soccer fields and pretty much all over the residential area.
IMG_7788IMG_7871IMG_7790IMG_7785
My thoughts are that these act as sort of a transfer station of sorts until there is a potential trash truck of sorts that comes to pick some of it up and my guess is that if the trash truck doesn’t come before the pile gets too large, that is when they burn some of it.  With the lack of even waste pickup infrastructure there is no wonder that recycling efforts are next to impossible. This was a lot different in the city areas where I did see more recycling receptacles.  Also in residential areas I noticed A LOT of litter!!  Just like in the States, I found a lot of litter right near empty trash receptacles.
Business:
The business areas where a little more established for waste infrastructure.  Walking from residential areas to the business area I noticed more street side trash receptacles that resembled bins you would see in the US.  Still no “twin the bin” or recycling on the street side, but real trash cans with no holes.  I also noticed there was a mix of some residential that had the crates and businesses had the bins.  I also noticed that the street bins had not only the normal bottles and cans, but quite a lot of yard waste as well.  I watched as, what appeared to be a (for lack of a better word) street sweeper (man) was sweeping yard waste and bottles, and whatever was on the side walk, into the trash bins.  There is a lot of yard waste (limbs and brush materials) from all the tropical plants growing along the sidewalks and so when they fall off…
I also noticed within the business district area that on Wednesday there was an entire section of a sidewalk covered with yard waste (tree stumps, branches, brush).  On my walk into town at around 9:30am it appeared to be 90-99% yard materials and then later on the walk back around 3:30pm a lot of the yard material was gone, but it appeared the yard material was in fact mixed with plastics and other debris.  In the afternoon, and after some was picked up, it was mostly plastic debris including plastic bottles just strung about the sidewalk and plastic banners and so forth.
Walking further into the business district and more into the touristy area of Olinda, I found several shops with recycle bins.  Most of these recycle “stations” are a three bin system – “Plastico, Metal, Papal”.  I had a look in one of these stations on the walk through and found nothing.  One the way back, several hours later, I found one can in the metal bin, but with a plastic straw in it, and one plastic bottle in the plastic bin.
I also stopped in a cafe to use wifi and stayed there for several hours.  Upon arriving there the trash bin at the cafe was about 60% full and mostly consisted of yard waste, again from the sweeping. Approximately 15% of the material in the bin was plastic and mostly consisted of PET – water bottles and one soda bottle.  There was also a plastic bowl and spoon (the cafe also served a variety of sorbet).  About 3 hours later the bin was 100% full (no one taking notice to empty, but it was not overflowing either).  The bin consisted of, then, nearly 45% plastic (mostly plastic bowls and spoons), one additional plastic bottle, and no additional yard waste.  I was tempted to take the bottles out and walk then across the street to the recycle bin – I should have!
IMG_7914IMG_7925
The hotel that I stayed at the first night, in Recife (Best Western) did have recycle bins in the room and also reduced waste even further by having refillable shampoo bottles in the shower instead of those dreaded single-use tiny bottles that consist of more plastic than actual shampoo.  It was a lovely hotel and hit the spot after two days in airports, planes, and taxis.  The hotel had one bin for “organicos” and one for “recyclables”.
Beach:
My first full official day in Olinda, I took part in a group beach cleanup with the eXXpedition crews and two local non-profits.  The beach had very few bins.  Only one for about a 5 block radius.  There were no public restrooms at the beach and I saw human waste in the ocean.  During the beach cleanup, I found used tampons, diapers, plastic wrappers, bottles, beer cans, cigarette butts, and hundreds of straws, plastic particles, and cups.  It was like out of a nightmare.  I thought it was bad to see people in NC laying on the beach next to and on cigarette butts and other trash, but this was people laying next to piles of garbage and the appearance to me was that there was a since of obliviousness.  It made me sad, angry, and at the same time it made me feel very lucky and grateful.
Walking along the shore, I had to go into the water to collect several food wrappers and bags that were washing ashore.  One local guy came up and had a long conversation with one of the members of one of the non-profits that was with us.  The man appeared to have an interest in what we were doing and apparently had several questions.
The children’s’ faces were priceless. It was a look of confusion and wonder as they watched us pickup trash along beside their parents.  I found it odd that the one single trash bin located in the area was nearly empty, but we were able to pick up around 15 bags or more of debris.
We did a dive the day after this cleanup followed by a school talk about waste reduction, recycling, reuse, and reducing single-use plastics in our every day lives.  I also presented about citizen science and the marine debris tracker app.
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I’ve been spreading the word all along the way about SW infrastructure in NC and how the Carolina Recycling Association and NCSWANA are working together to protect our resources while reducing waste and looking at our waste as more of a resource rather than something to toss and forget.  We also discussed how solid waste infrastructure play s a role in keeping debris out of our waters.
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More to come soon with photos.. I need to convert some files and go through all the pics.
XX, L