reducing waste

Earth and Surf Fest is Gearing Up for Good Time

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Get ready for ONE awesome day of FUN for the entire family at the Tenth Annual Earth and Surf Fest on Saturday, July 9th in North Topsail Beach.

This rad waste-free eco awareness event showcases many of the splendors that there is to enjoy in our coastal community environment.

Things get kicked off at 7am with registration for the Fun, Sun, and 5K Run on the beach, a one mile fun run, and the On Shore Surf Shop surf contest.

A free beach yoga session is offered by Keep Onslow Beautiful Committee member and certified yoga instructor, Christina Lewis, at 10am.  Bring a mat or towel and get ready to sweat and breathe in the sweet salty ocean air.  Don’t forget your refillable/reusable water bottle.  Refilling stations will be located at the event.

Live music begins in the morning and continues throughout the day.  We will also have a live broadcast with fav local DJ, Vaughn, from the morning show at Modern Rock 98.7/.

Local musician, artist, and long time beach sweeper, Justina will get things started with an acoustic solo act at the bathhouse stage area.  Headliners are local surf music jam rockers, Arise Awake who will get us through the mid day.

Later that afternoon, you get the chance to show your talents with a 2 hour open mic gig hosted by Wes Rider.  Be sure to bring a guitar, drums, or whatever you need to showcase your talents. Open mic jam session begins at 3pm and there will be a sign up form available at the bathhouse stage area starting at 2:30pm.

A traditional beach cleanup will be held throughout the day with the crew at the Plastic Ocean Project.  Prizes will be given, you can learn how to participate in a fun citizen science program, and you also have the chance to earn SAT credit hours (for high school volunteers).

This is a waste-free event so place make sure to carpool, bring your own reusable water bottle, and use the recycle and compost bins properly. Pack in and pack out any waste you bring that is not compostable or recyclable, please. There will be a healthy and waste-free food truck on site for all your munching needs throughout the day.

Healthy and eco friendly vendors and environmental education booths include:  Keep Onslow Beautiful, Plastic Ocean Project, Spring Locker, White Oak New River Association, NC Coastal Federation, Onslow Co Museum, NC CMAST and NC Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, Arbonne, Your Bottle Means Jobs, Sonoco Recycling, Loggerhead Designs, Oceana, Going Green, Beauty Counter, On Shore Surf Shop,Forkful Food Truck, Sparkling ICE, and more…

Thank you so much to our sponsors: KIXX Outfitters, On Shore Surf Shop, Only in Onslow, Sonoco Recycling, Spring Locker, Sparkling ICE, Keep Onslow Beautiful, Onslow County Solid Waste Department, Onslow County Parks and Recreation, Nixon, Dragon, Loggerhead Designs, Hyperflex Wetsuits, …lost, Global Surf Industries, Savage Surfboards, Sanuk, Prolite, Go Pro, Clean Energy Events, and Sun Bum.

Be sure to check out for registration, location with a map, and event info.



Friday the 13th Cleanup

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Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium

Shackleford Banks



Help keep the Crystal Coast pristine on Friday, May 13 during a public Beach Keepers beach clean-up event. Spend the day removing marine debris from Shackleford Banks with Cape Lookout National Seashore, the Crystal Coast Tourism Authority, Island Express Ferries and the Aquarium. Advance registration is required and participants need to provide their own food, reusable water bottles, and other beach necessities. This free event begins at 7:30 a.m. in Beaufort and will last approximately seven hours, including transportation to and from Shackleford Banks. For those on Instagram, the event will also include an InstaMeet – an opportunity for Instagrammers to come together, share photos, and tell stories about the day.

May 137:30 – 2:00

Help keep the Crystal Coast pristine on Friday, May 13, in a public Beach Keepers clean-up on Shackleford Banks. Join us at 600 Front Street, Beaufort, and spend the day removing marine debris from Shackleford Banks. For those on Instagram, the event will also include an InstaMeet. This is a great project for families or groups with children and is appropriate for anyone ages 8 and up.  Be prepared to get wet and dirty!

What to Bring:

Water Shoes


Lunch and Reusable water bottle

Ages 8 and up, maximum 60 participants

Duration 7 Hours

This activity is free


9th Annual Earth and Surf Fest

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10002955_613461495399862_472281569_nKeep Onslow Beautiful and several sponsors are gathering to host the 9th Annual Earth & Surf Fest at North Topsail Beach July 4 rain or shine. The event aims to promote waste reduction, litter and marine debris prevention and a healthy lifestyle. This is an environmental awareness event.

Festivities begin with a 7 a.m. registration for the 5K beach run and surf contest.  The 5K race on the beach will award prizes to the top overall male and female runners and the first and second place finishers in each age group. The course is an out-and-back course that is run completely on the beach. The start and finish of the race is on beach in front of Onslow Public Beach Public Access #2. Runners will head north about 1.5 miles before turning around and heading back south. T-shirts are available for runners and surfers registered for the event and some will also be available for purchase until supplies run out.
Surf and stand-up paddle boarding contests are being coordinated by On Shore Surf Shop and other sponsors. Registration is available online at–sup-registration.html or at the store in Surf City.
Free stand-up paddle board demonstrations plus kayak and canoe demonstrations will be on the sound side and are coordinated by Surf City Paddle Club and the New River Foundation.
A beach yoga class will be at 10 am by Keep Onslow Beautiful committee member and registered yoga teacher, Christina Lewis
A beach cleanup for the entire section of North Topsail and Surf City beaches is also scheduled. A sign up tent (aqua blue/green tent that says “Keep Onslow Beautiful”) will be located at the event. Sign up, pick a location to clean up and venture out. Buckets, gloves, and other materials will be provided. SAT credit hours for high school students will be recorded. Don’t forget to bring forms!
Free live music from Trevor Harris and the Birds, and Pamlico Joe will be featured. WRMR 98.7 Modern Rock and DJ Christine Martinez will also be on-site for a live broadcast and giving out Modern Rock 98.7 coolers until supplies last (mid day).
This is a waste-free event. Everything will be either recyclable or compostable. Recycle and compost bins will be conveniently located. Guests are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles for use at refilling stations located throughout the festival. All activities will also be completely solar powered in keeping with the theme.
It’s all taking place at Beach Access #2, 2950 Island Drive in North Topsail Beach. Additional information is available at:  Earth and Surf Fest

Make plans to enjoy the holiday at the Earth & Surf Fest.

Waste Reduction Wednesday: Carolina Recycling Association

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CRA Logo Color-2

Happy #WasteReductionWednesday!

Today I thought I would talk a little about one of my favorite professional associations that I have been a member of for over 11 years.  The Carolina Recycling Association was recommended to me when I started my career in resource management by a colleague.  I went to my first #CRA conference back in 2004 and was blown away by the wealth of knowledge that surrounded me and I immediately aspired to not only learn as much as I could, but to progress in a way that would make me a waste reduction and recycling leader as well.  After a few conferences and many hours of study in-between, I found myself a CRA conference speaker on several occasions, workshop host, planning committee member, board member, and in 2014 I was honored with the sought after Recycler of the Year Award.

It has been a pleasure and privilege to work amongst such a well-educated, hard-working, and dedicated group of environmental heroes.  Most folks don’t know how much work goes into recycling, waste reduction efforts, and proper resource management infrastructure in local communities.  We put our cart at the street and it magically gets managed.  Carolina Recycling Association members are the folks that work day and night making these efforts possible while also spreading the knowledge of the importance not only to the environment, but also to the local economy.

Here is a brief summary of what the CRA is all about:

The mission of the Carolina Recycling Association is to conserve resources by advancing recycling and waste reduction throughout the Carolinas (North, South, and beyond).

The overall goal of the CRA is to promote waste reduction recycling of marketable/recyclable materials in the Carolinas.

The members, including myself, of CRA recognize that:

Recycling reduces the weight and volume, and therefore cost, of waste to be disposed and reintroduces into the economy materials previously considered without value.

Recycling supports manufacturing.  Production of everything from steel to glass, paper, packaging, automobile and construction products, and textiles are made from recycled material in the Carolinas.

Recycling creates jobs and business opportunities.  It is one of the most consistently growing sectors of the economy in the Carolinas.

Recycling helps reduce the need for new landfills.  The growth in recycling has helped increase landfill capacity in NC from 20 to 32 years.

Recycling allows citizens to contribute to environmental solutions.  Through the simple act of recycling, Carolinians save water and energy, prevent pollution, protect habitats, and conserve valuable resources.

Recycling improves the quality of life in Carolina communities.

Carolina Recycling Association Objectives:

Education: CRA uses workshops, networking meetings, and the Annual Conference to spread the knowledge and skills of recycling professionals and experts, as well as educating members on new technologies and programs that will benefit their businesses and communities.

Public-Private Partnerships: CRA develops broad-based community alliances throughout the Carolinas and beyond, to achieve sustainable community improvement in recycling and waste reduction methods.

Board and Council Action: By engaging Board Members and Councils, we extend the reach of our educational activities and increase the impact of our efforts.

To learn more or to sign up to be a CRA member or supporter, please go to

Blue skies, calm seas, and don’t forget to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle,



Coastinista: Your Daily Cup of Conservation

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This was my intro article with Beach Carolina Magazine.  

Please allow me to introduce Coastinista, a new, and almost, daily cup of coastal conservation and eco-awareness. Let’s get right to it with your daily cup (pun intended today). I was enjoying my morning cup of java this morning and it made me think of ways to reduce waste while caffeinating.

Consider what type of coffee pot you use. Is it plastic or metal and does it use single-use plastic cups or filters? These considerations might not be at the top of your priority list when it comes to huge environmental impacts, but everything adds up. Just take a tour of your local landfill and you will see just how much it adds up.

I have been using an old fashioned percolator since as long as I can remember. There are no plastic parts, with the exception of the plastic cover on the handle. This means that no hot water ever touches plastic, which is a big deal since heating up plastic can leach dioxins into your coffee at over 100 times the “safe” level – ewh! Having a metal percolator or even a glass french press also means that it is highly recyclable if it breaks.

Using a metal percolator that has a metal filter means it is completely reusable. No muss, no fuss, and it saves dollar bills. Coffee filters, on average, run about $25.00 a year if you make one pot of coffee each day, which let’s face it – most of us do that and more. That doesn’t seem like a lot of dough, but that $25.00 buys a tank of gas in my little car or two tanks of air (underwater obsessed).

Now let’s talk single-use plastics. Coffee stirring straws are a NO in my book. First, they are plastic (like diamonds, plastic is forever!) and you are only using it for seconds and then it is tossed. It has been estimated that 138 billion plastic coffee stirrers are used worldwide!! That is a lot of plastic ending up in our landfills or worse, our oceans. Use a spoon, a wooden stirrer, or pasta. Personally, I bring a set of bamboo utensils where ever I go to avoid single-use plastics and I include a bamboo straw just in case I feel the need for a little almond milk in my dark roast.

What about the plastic “K-cups”? It has been estimated that 1 in 5 consumers are now using the single cup coffee pots. What’s the problem? That is A LOT OF WASTE!!! According to Mother Jones, all of the single-use plastic coffee K-cups solid in 2013 would wrap the Earth a total of 10.5 times! These are ending up in your backyard landfill, because most places do not accept the type of plastic being used and most consumers will not take the time to empty the coffee and then recycle them. I have even picked these up during beach cleanups. Not really sure how they ended up in the ocean, but not super surprising considering how many there are out there.

The environmental cost of the K-cup is significant, but what about your wallet? The New York Times recently calculated that K-cups coffee costs about $50 per pound! How much do you pay for coffee? Even the organic, fair trade, best coffee I ever had ranges from $10-12 a pound and most K-cups are not organic. Oh and did I mention they are made of plastic – remember my dioxin mention? Ewh!

This magical machine that delivers morning joy to our lives everyday is still something that makes life great and there is nothing like a hot cup of joe on a fall day here at the Coast, but consider these steps when breaking out your next brew:

1. Consider a Metal Percolator that uses a reusable metal filter or a French Press – They make the best (doesn’t taste like plastic) coffee!

2. Don’t use plastic stirrers at home or away from home.

3. Stay away from POLYSTYRENE (Styrofoam)! It is not recyclable in almost every part of the world and it is a form of plastic (Doesn’t biodegrade so it is forever!). Polystyrene cups are one of the most littered items on Topsail Island, NC this year, along with cigarette butts which is always at the top of the list.

4. Bring your own mug everywhere you go. Refilling is way better than recycling and most coffee shops will give you a discount if you bring your own mug. Plus, I usually have pretty rad coffee mugs that I would much rather sport around than the alternative.

5. Consider buying organic and fair trade coffee (I like beans and grind them myself to make it super freshy).

6. If your coffee pot breaks, recycle it at the nearest Electronics Recycle Station. Check with your local Solid Waste or Sanitation Department. Electronics (TVs and Computer Equip) are actually banned from NC landfills meaning that communities in NC already have a way to process your coffee pot for recycling. For a list of other landfill banns, see:

7. Compost your coffee grounds. This is just another way to reduce your waste and coffee grounds, along with other food scraps, create really great organic fertilizer when composted.

8. Bring your coffee pot with you. Traveling soon, consider bringing your metal percolator with you. Hotels mostly have plastic coffee pots or single-use plastic k-cups. Reducing waste is just as important when you are away especially in remote locations, like islands, where solid waste facilities are hard to come by and the cost of handling waste is high.

9. Enjoy!