Monday, November 12, 2012


In the life of the earth, 2 1/2 years is nothing. In the life of a blog, 2 1/2 years is an eternity. During my time writing & researching for The Flotsam Diaries, I have seen many budding writers, ecologists, litter-pickers, and nature lovers come and go. Life overtakes, the passion subsides, health interrupts, different avenues of expression open.

For me, I love reading the thoughts that other people put down. Regular people, like myself. Those struggles & victories, new ways of looking at old problems -- I find it all inspiring. So today I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge and tip my hat to a few steadfast souls. People whom I met in my earliest days, and who are still treading their paths to this day. Their words flowing every week like a stream down a mountainside. Toward the ocean.

Sara Bayles of Santa Monica, CA started The Daily Ocean back in May of 2009.
The Daily Ocean gets sunsets like this as a perk!
Often I'll take a picture of a sunrise on my coast that becomes a sunset on hers. Same day, same sun, two coasts, two blogs. It's eerie, and perfect. Sara set a goal of doing a simple 20-minute cleanup 365 times, to see how much garbage she could pull from her beach in the equivalent of one year. Since then her work has taken her far outside her comfort zone -- as far as sailing the deepest blue of the South Pacific for weeks on a research vessel studying plastic in the sea! She's now coming to the end of her 365-day marathon, and I'm excited to see what's next.

Inspired by Sara's work, Danielle Richardet of It Starts with Me began clearing litter from the sand at Wrightsville Beach, NC in the summer of 2010.
It Starts with Me says this is NOT okay - and I agree
Danielle soon learned the the biggest scourge of her beach was cigarette butts. Thousands of cigarette butts seeping toxic filth into the sands. The documentary "It Starts With Me" -- following her story -- premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. At the time she had collected "only" 12,000 cigarette butts. Today that figure is 52,000+! But Danielle's story took an amazing twist just last week. After years of hard work & building support, citizens of Wrightsville Beach voted overwhelming to ban smoking on the beach. A mom & wife who cared about her family & community helped bring that community a huge victory for clean air and clean sands! Danielle, you rock!

"SuAsCo Al," The Trash Paddler, lives in Acton, MA -- an exurb of the Boston area.
SuAsCo Al has the best views of eastern Massachusetts!
An avid kayaker & naturalist, Al has been paddling the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord (SuAsCo) Rivers for years. Back in 2005 he decided to stop simply paddling by the trash he always saw on its banks. Instead, he started picking it up, and has been blogging about his finds almost ever since! In his blog, Al shares incredible photos of Massachusetts scenery most never see, cool bits of history and architecture, and an ever-growing count of the heaps of trash that he removes from what should be pristine places. He is always a good read, and my hat is off for his persistence & the difference he makes every day.

In that same vein, meet Bernie Paquette of Vermont Litter with a Story to Tell.
Burlington, home of "Vermont Litter with a Story to Tell"
Bernie has a positivity that's hard to find these days. Keenly aware of the damage that trash & litter & plastic are doing to the environment, he approaches every situation as not so much a challenge, but an opportunity. A chance for people to see for themselves the beauty of their world, and their own power to keep it beautiful. Opportunities for businesses and citizens to work together for the benefit of everybody. All with the overarching theme that ours is a world worth fighting for. With a smile.

Last, but not least, a huge shout-out to Paul Sharp & Silke Stuckenbrock - founders of The Two Hands Project.

I admit, Two Hands is less of a blog than it is just a constant source of inspiration. It began with a simple belief: That anywhere, any time, any one of us can start making a difference with a bag or bucket, and our own two hands. That simple idea has now blossomed into an international juggernaut of reality-based environmental action, with a community of tens of thousands. I am so proud to call Paul & Silke friends and be even a small part of their work.
A "Two Hands" cleanup I did at the local post office

I know all too well the pushes, pulls, tugs, and currents of modern life. I know how disheartening it is to fight reckless corporate greed fed by political collusion. (See the recent -- and not yet dead -- attempts by the plastic bag industry to write legislation in Illinois, fought so bravely by Activist Abby.) When you see plastic trash above the Arctic Circle or read about it now in the Southern Ocean, you can feel so small.

Through the work they do, my friends above have always made me feel like the impossible is a little less impossible. And they do to this very day.

Thank you friends.


  1. WOW Harry, what a great tribute to our fellow litter picking community. A community that does indeed support one another, inspire each other to be creative in each our litter eradication approach.
    No matter what scale of litter picking one does-be it on an international org. or one individual picking up trash while walking their dog or while paddling their canoe or kayak---the benefits are real, immeddiate, and self rewarding. As I say in my blog intro: Litter Picking is a fun, addictive, challenging, family oriented, soul refreshing, community based year round activity. Creating Community- Community is not static. We need to develop, seek, and nourish community.Join planet beneficial and non-exclusive activities like litter picking that in turn develop community.

    I raise my glass to the folks mentioned in your
    posting, and to you, and to those many unnamed that are in our litter picking community!

    We can grow an attitude of intolerance for litter just as we can grow pride and activism for attributes like Lake Champlain in Vt, Santa Monica and NC beaches, Mass. Waterways, Maine coast lines, and in our rural and urban towns and cities.

    a growing membership
    that will turn the tide....
    If enough people join in on a regular basis, well to quote Arlo Guthrie in Alice's Restaurant song, "And friends they may think it's a movement."

    Bestest Regards,

  2. Your blog is very beautiful, the style is very cool! See the things that I think is very interested in oh, thank you for sharing! if you have time welcome to our site:

  3. Awesome Post I raise my glass to the folks mentioned in your
    posting, and to you, and to those many unnamed that are in our litter picking community! Best Engineering College in India