Here’s an article I wrote
which was featured in the September ’10
Issue of LA Yoga Magazine:
|Written by Rachel Avalon|
|Cleaning Up The Beach Means Cleaning Up Our Lives
Volunteering, by nature, tends to give its own rewards beyond expectation. The simple act of serving a hot meal to the homeless community, planting a tree or working with animal rescues can fill our lives with an amazing sense of purpose and connection. To take it a step further though, Jack Johnson teamed up with Heal the Bay for a massive call to action coupled with an irresistible incentive. This summer, 2,000 people were invited to clean up the Santa Monica beach on a beautiful Saturday afternoon; in return they received a ticket to a special concert held on the pier a couple nights later. Of course, registration filled almost instantaneously and fans, ecoists, and beach-goers lined up for the task at hand.
I was joined by fellow activist, Vanessa Meier, for two hours of fresh air on one dirty beach where Styrofoam, plastic and cigarette butts were the most common findings. As we dug little symbols of our addiction to oil and convenience out of the sand I kept thinking about the Gulf of Mexico and the tragedy unfolding there. While images of thick, billowing oil dominated the news for three months straight we have remained disconnected and maladapted to live with bits and pieces of old toys, restaurant packaging, water bottle caps and lighters in the ocean and on the shores. Our plastic waste outnumbers plankton in many areas and is filling the bellies of fish, seabirds and mammals. Whether wildlife is drowning in oil or ingesting the refined products, it is all petro-related and detrimental to their health as well as our own.
That simple fact felt like the real moral of the story at this volunteering event. Basically, we’ll always have more shorelines to clean up whether in California, Florida, Louisiana or on any other stretch of land (or water) until we dramatically reduce the source of pollution and green our lifestyles. Of course, that means we need to get serious about switching over to honestly clean alternatives like wind instead of “clean coal,” nuclear or other questionable fuel sourced from clear-cut rainforests.
Okay, back to Jack. Here’s a guy who obviously sees the bigger picture and cares about making the world a sustainable place. He does it without coming across as too preachy or self-important…a talent most of us environmentalists could use a little more of, right?
When Monday night rolled around, it was time for the promised show on the pier. Fans drifted onto the old wooden planks and covered the beach. For hundreds who weren’t able to obtain a ticket in advance, a bio-diesel powered video screen created greater intimacy. Everyone waited in anticipation as the sun disappeared and Jack Johnson took the stage. As it was chilly, Vanessa and our group bundled up and scooted closer to the crowd to be shielded from the wind. We weren’t the only ones commenting about the weather; Jack cracked a joke when he took his coat off because his guitar strap kept slipping.
Wind aside; it was amazing! The eco message was gently reinforced and Johnson and the band played all the favorites plus songs from his new album To the Sea. When the last bow was given and the audience applause turned into shuffling feet and happy murmurs I felt a renewed, quiet hope that musicians, nonprofits and everyday people are in fact waking up to join forces and create the wave of change that this incredible planet so urgently needs.
3 Tips for being uber-eco at beach clean-ups:
Bring reusable gardening gloves instead of relying on disposable ones that are provided.
Bring a reusable bag to collect individual trash and then pool your findings into a larger, disposable bag.
Take some pictures and share them with friends to inspire them to rethink their habits and to get involved.
*Be sure to clean any of your reusable items when you return home.
For more ideas on how to participate in positive, global change check out Jack and Kim Johnson’s nonprofit at: AllAtOnce.org.
100% of the 2010 To the Sea world tour profits will be donated to charity.
Find out local volunteering opportunities at:
Rachel Avalon is an award-winning eco-expert and activist. She teaches a sustainable diet and lifestyle to clients nationwide: rachelavalon.com.