Sunday, August 3, 2014

C.R.E.A.T.E. Ideas into Art

Andrea Oeding with art project
Finished Waterfall Art 
Citizens Recycling Everything And Turning Endless Ideas into Art. Okay the acronym is a stretch but what we have witnessed this summer has been an awakening in idea awareness.  Where do we start?! Should it be in Spencer, Indiana where our traveling art exhibit stood in a popular hot spot in the McCormick's Creek National Park? There we helped Colleen Minnemeyer and Andrea Oeding create an art piece of the famous park waterfall that was made out of bottle caps - anyone could help and people of all ages contributed.

Redmon Picnic Baskets include
reusable bag for dirty dishes
While in Spencer, IN, with help from Colleen Minnemeyer, all kinds of fabulous work could have been purchased, from hand carved stone memorials by Casey Winningham to a woman spinning wool yarn both done right on the premises.  Imagine watching Casey use a hammer to chisel out letters like they did over 100 years ago or watching a woman's feet peddle like a bicycle as the wheel spun the fresh wool into fine yarn.  We found beautiful handcrafted STONE bowls to vintage picnic baskets w/portable dinnerware - a solution to disposable plastics.  (Mom is that your basket?)  Shelle Ventresca sold her trendy jewelry using recycled vintage jewelry next to Andrea's mom who sews high-end handbags out of recycled fabrics. The festival hummed to local musicians tapping time to simmering local vittles.  Americans are using their skills, talents, and creativity to make money the old fashion American way - by making stuff - good quality stuff out of unwanted materials.  And people who buy these goods are taking the first step in putting money back into the communities instead of in large businesses who often ship the profits to other parts of the world.

Anne Clark with Foot Print
Reno High art piece
We then headed west to set up our exhibit at the University of NV, Reno for the Summer of Sustainability!  What an unbelievable eye popping experience not only the drive across this gorgeous country but to land in a desert drenched with creative minds.  Teachers engaging children under seven in a teamwork project to create a giant monster out of recycled materials.  Reno High school students created a 10'x12' image of a ram on top of a mountain of trash using album covers slated to be taken to the landfill.  We're talking from trash to incredible art.  But among the most innovative would have to be the Green Giant of a foot masterminded by Earth Guardian Anne Clark who, as an art teacher at Incline High school at Lake Tahoe, enlisted students and locals (along with her husband Dallas) to repurposing single use plastics into a 10' foot bearing down on Mother Earth.  It begs the question, "What is your plastic footprint?"  Other giants were extinct dinosaurs and a wooly mammoth made out of recycled cardboard.  There was no end to the grandeur at the UNR Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.

There are three floors of work done by school aged children on up through college and local artists.  The requirement for this juried exhibit was that entries had to be made of at least 80% recycled materials.  What did they do with the vinyls that were inside the album covers?  They were turned into flowers! Art instructor Lauren Gandolfo came up with the plan and they turned out to be so outrageously cool  people were begging to buy them during the 7.13.14 exhibit opening.  To see more images of the gallery along with others mentioned click here.  Over 200 pieces accent the library walls professionally curated by Kaitlin Bryson. The exhibit will be on display until September 30th.

But you don't have to leave the beach to find exquisite art made using recycled materials.  Here in Wrightsville Beach, NC, Jazz Undy uses debris that he finds on the beach along with other unwanted materials to create 3-D paintings.  Looking for quality artwork intertwining 2-D with 3-D and sometimes a touch of humor, you will find it here.
Jazz Undy's 3-D sailboat with 2-D backdrop

A special thank you to Mark Gandolfo, Deanna Hearn, Ashlie Senko, Project Aware, and Mike Collopy, UNR Academy for the Environment, for the effort and financial support bringing  Plastic Ocean Project, Inc.'s "What Goes Around Comes Around" art exhibit some 3,000 miles.  This event put a positive spin on making unwanted resources come back around to having intrinsic value.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Jack Johnson and Sustaining Hope

When we were asked to be a All At Once partner at the Jack Johnson concert we were so excited, we went through a million ideas of how we could reach people.  We didn’t want to create more waste by giving out brochures and handouts and the All At Once camp wasn’t a fan of that either. It would be against what we both try to promote, reduce waste. So we had to get very creative, and our POP, Inc. team nailed it.  With the help of the UNCW Sailing Club, thank you Jeff Pyle, we decided to retrofit a retired sail to hang in our booth for concertgoers to write their pledge to reduce waste. Next we wanted to make something concertgoers could take a picture of and have fun with. Then came the idea of Ollie the Octopus, a cardboard cutout of an Octopus entangled with single-use items with a head size cutout for photo opts. To promote POP, Inc. and All At Once, we ordered some plastic-free body stamps with our logo and web address.  This way people could take home our logo and website hands-free.

“I am the solution to plastic pollution,” crowned Ollie the Octopus’s head, and he was a hit. Humorously initiating conversation, people would step right up to get a photo opt with him, enticing others to come right over too.  Once under our tent we showed them a sample we collected from the North Pacific Garbage Patch and plastics collected that were half eaten by marine life.  This allowed us the opportunity to share the work we are doing with students, open-ocean research, collaboration we share with other non-profits, and our efforts to try to minimize our negative impact from trash on the environment.  They were engaged and loved taking pictures with Ollie, sharing it on their social media and hopefully starting a conversation of their own with their friends and family. It was so awesome seeing how many people really seemed to ‘get it’ by writing great pledges on the sail. Everyone got into the act including our own photo opt with Jack Johnson in front of our sail.
Many of the pledges were from the little ones with wonderfully intuitive things to say.  One little guy pledged, “I will reyos and resicle all day and evry day of my life.”  Families pledged they would recycle together, stop using straws and bring their own bags.  Many left our tent marked by awareness and a temporary POP, Inc. tattoo. It was such an uplifting experience, we left full of energy and overjoyed with the feeling that we changed how people looked at single-use plastic.
The last few months had been wearing on us and we felt as though we weren’t connecting with people or making a difference.  This experience rejuvenated our hope for a future less condemned by plastic waste.  To say we are grateful to Jack Johnson and the All At Once campaign would be an understatement, we gained so much more than the monetary value.  We left that concert renewed and ready to charge forward educating, researching and ultimately finding a way to help clean up the ocean. 
Tricia Monteleone 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Green Gem of a Community Inspires POP, Inc. to Award with Two Jack Johnson Tickets

Plastic Ocean Project, Inc. frequently gives presentations on the research we do, sharing images and videos from the different regions of the world we have sampled.  Thanks to Lisa Rider, we again had the opportunity to present in Onslow County, NC at the cleverly designed Sneads Ferry Library and Environmental Education Center - a beautiful natural space that showcases their community environmentalism.  Lisa shared some stats on their community involvement and here are just a few of what a community can do:
1. Onslow County now ranks sixth in common household recyclables per capita and 11th in total public recycling per capita recovery, up from 32d a year ago and 82nd the year before.
2. Dixon Elementary is ranked the top recycling school in the State. 
3. Queens Creek Elementary started a Styrofoam food tray recycling program this year.
4. Their local Environmental Awareness Event and their Earth and Surf Fest received 3 environmental awards this year including the NC Show Fest Green Award and the NC Green Travel Program’s highest honor of the 3 Dogwood Awards. 
5. They started capturing landfill gas and using it as a renewable energy source which means revenue for the County with absolutely no expense to the County. Furthermore, they are installing solar panels to the old closed landfill to provide even more renewable energy and revenue, again at no cost.

The Robert L. Franck Award ceremony was to honor those striving for a cleaner, greener community, with this year's recipient of the green legend "Robert L. Franck" award going to Jim Wheeler.  Beyond being a retired military, he continues to serve this country in habitat protection by cleaning up manmade materials from the environment. "He picked up his 3,000th bag of trash last month, which he knows well because he does an awesome job tracking data. Tracking trash might seem unusual, but for those of us that use the data to target trends it is very useful information." Shared Lisa Rider, Assistant Director of Keep Onslow Beautiful.  

Beyond the pale, Onslow County Keep America Beautiful enlisted 60 Marines from Camp Lejeune that participated in a marsh area cleanup. The area was a marshy dredge-spoil area along the inter coastal waterway in North Topsail Beach that includes the boat ramp area under the NTB bridge. This area has a lot of shoreline fishing related trash including bottles, cans, baby diapers, fishing line, etc. as well as a lot of materials related to things that washed up from storms and high tides. They picked up 1350 lbs of materials which consisted of over 90% recyclable materials of which they recycled it all.  This inspired POP, Inc. to want to clean up in a similar area in our community. 

Andrea Buddy helps clean up Cape Fear River with dad.
Using funding from the Jack Johnson Foundation, POP, Inc. is calling on our local New Hanover County eco-troops to come out and lend a hand for a cleanup at Carolina Beach State Park.  We will meet at the fishing dock at 3pm Saturday, May 17th.  We will also be raffling off tickets to the Jack Johnson concert held at Koka Booth, Cary NC May 21st.  Come out and help cleanup the environment and you just might cleanup two tickets to the Jack Johnson concert!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Plane to see . . . .

Satellite image of debris in the open-ocean
For over three weeks the search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 has been sobering not only for the plane and people that we haven't found, but also for what has been found - tons of manmade debris covering the ocean surface.  It is plain to see why there is an abundance of debris since the oceans are down hill from everywhere, rivers transport the debris in them out to sea then combines with debris either lost or discarded at sea, so all it CAN do is accumulate.   It is estimated that every year 6.4 million tonnes of manmade debris joins that which has been collecting over the past 50 years according to research done by the US Academy of Sciences.

 "According to other calculations, some 8 million items of marine litter have been estimated to enter oceans and seas every day, about 5 million of which are thrown overboard or lost from ships. Furthermore, it has been estimated that over 13,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square kilometre of ocean surface." (UNEP-
Plastic ends up in our oceans from runoff.
To test this study we challenge you to take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and go find a body of water, a river, a retention pond, stream, roadside gutter, and look to see if you find any plastic debris.  Once you see it, you will always see it near and in water because wind and rain drive debris to pools of water. Like the image game Magic Eye, at first you don't really see it, but once you really look for it, you will always see it.  And seeing it hopefully leads to the purchase of a grabber so you can get some fresh air and exercise by going out and picking it up.  It is just one way to help preventing the 8 million items that end          up in the ocean daily.

Erin Diskin sampling for plastic bottle leachates. 
There are so many ways we can look at plastics. Erin Diskin is a student at UNCWilmington and she is looking for the leachates in a BPA-free bottle.  She wants to understand if the company has really come up with a way to avoid chemicals that mimic estrogen or if what the company is substituting BPA with is more of the same.  In the process, she is learning how to freeze-dry her sample, then using solvents and evaporation,  will hopefully sequester any of the agents used so she can then learn how to GC Mass Spectroscopy the sample to see what chemistry was used to make the bottle.  This is hands on learning skill working with one of our finest professors, Dr. Pam Seaton. To be continued . .

M. Mangiacapre, S. Kennedy,
and S. Lyons learning FT-IR.
Typing plastic fragments on FT-IR
These students are learning how to use the Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) It measures ultra violet light absorbed at each wavelength.  What they can learn from this is what types of plastic fragments are we finding in the open-ocean.  Furthermore, they hope to take it one step further to understand if chemicals leaching from plastics are triggering selective feeding on plastics by micro-zooplankton. Misty Mangiacapre learned how to use the instrument as an undergraduate.  Her research led to her discovery that plastics adsorb manmade pollutants and that those pollutants are then transferred to gastrointestinal sea turtle juices.
UNCW lab doing it right - recycle foil.

While taking pictures of our students working in the lab, I stumbled upon this  pleasant surprise.  Recycling all that we can reduces our over use of resources while creating a closed loop system.

And of course we can all help stop the flow of plastic marine debris if we reduce our use of single use plastics.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Critical Announcement - NC NOAA Marine Lab IS on the chopping block

A good way to argue there is no harm being done to the oceans is by shutting down the science that protects them as well as helps us appreciate them.  Is that why North Carolina's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is scheduled to be shut down?

The House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee will be accepting comments for the record. Go this website

Deadline for submission of your comments is 31 March 2014.
call and/or email, to stop this nonsense.  Of course you only have today to do it conveniently.  Please voice your objection to shutting down the science that we ALL depend upon including our Sea Turtles!!!.



As we all recognize, the lab and its staff are so critical to the sea turtle program in North Carolina.  This is a very serious situation.  We may lose this laboratory. Please take a few minutes to raise your voice in support of the lab and its importance to us.  Thank you for considering this and for taking action!  


Here is information to aid in your response:


NOAA’s National Ocean Service’s Request to Close the Beaufort Laboratory


Issue – Long term cost of maintaining the NOAA Beaufort Laboratory (NOAA, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research)


“To strengthen NOAA’s coastal sci­ence in the long run, NOAA proposes to reduce its phys­ical footprint and fixed costs by closing the Beaufort, N.C. laboratory…” 

On this budget item, a NOAA spokesperson in Silver Spring was quoted saying:  “this aging facility requires infrastructure repairs and improvements exceeding agency budget resources..”   

Response – Urge proposed closure of NOAA’s Beaufort Laboratory be removed from the NOS budget

Inaccurate, outdated information that overstated the costs of maintaining the NOAA Beaufort Laboratory was used in the analysis that lead to the request to close this facility.


In recent years, NOAA has invested approximately $14 million in new construction and renovations at the Beaufort Laboratory. 


An updated engineering report (2014) documents the condition of the facility is not structurally unsound. There have been substantial improvements to the facility.

Facilities Upgrades

2006  $7 M   Administration Building replaced (NC NERRs contributed $1M)

2007  $2.1 M         Bridge replaced – cost shared with Duke University

2008  $0.86M   Maintenance Building replaced

2009       $0.5M   Air conditioning / Air handler replacement and mold abatement

2009       $1.0M     Sample Storage/Chemical Storage/Haz-Mat buildings consolidated and replaced

2014       $1.65M  Seawall repair, electrical upgrade and State of NC funded storm water control


Current Staffing at NOAA’s Beaufort Laboratory

71 Full time federal staff members, 40 National Marine Fisheries staff, 31 National Ocean Service staff

33.5 Contract positions and 8 NC NEERs staff


The National Ocean Service, in initiating the closure request, understated the NOS staff and did not account for the more than 40 National Marine Fisheries Service staff or the 8 staff members of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (Rachel Carson) co located at the facility. In total 108 staff and contractors will be directly affected by this closure.


Desired Outcomes

  • NOAA’s Beaufort Laboratory closure proposed in the 2015 President’s Budget Request should not be included in the NOS budget.
  • Congress should inform NOAA that requests for closure of NOS laboratories will not be entertained in the future.
  • Congress should direct NOAA to restore staffing, operational support and funding for science to full operational levels to utilize the capacity of the NOAA Beaufort Laboratory.
  • NOAA should provide a report and a timeline to Congress with a strategy to address these concerns.


Science Issues - NOAA’s FY 15 Budget Summary


Issue - While the National Ocean Service, NOAA is calling for the closure of the Beaufort NC laboratory, it is requesting an increase of $4M to another center to support Ecological Forecasting of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB), Hypoxia, pathogens and Species Distributions.



It is ironic the budget initiative for FY2015 requests increased research funding for coastal ocean issues , including harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, and coastal ecosystem management at the same time it is proposing to close the Beaufort Laboratory, which has both well-established expertise and facilities required to address many of those very same issues.  .  


The Beaufort Laboratory has established an extraordinary record for scientific excellence in its research. NOAA has repeatedly recognized individual researchers, research teams, and the Laboratory as a whole for the outstanding quality of the work performed there.  The laboratory’s excellent research capabilities and reputation also attract support, both from other branches of NOAA and from other organizations which have recognized potential benefits of the Laboratory’s studies, and long have augmented the support provided by NOAA.  



The House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee will be accepting comments for the record.  Go this website


Deadline for submission of your comments is 31 March 2014.




Jean Beasley

The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center

Topsail Island, NC



For all of the wildlife on earth their future must depend upon the conscience of mankind.

Dr. Archie Carr