Monday, November 21, 2011

Sustainable Holiday Shopping

When completing your holiday shopping, do you consider the environmental impacts of your purchases? It is important to take into account not only the price tag of the products, but also the environmental and human health costs of these items.

GreenTV episode 110 discusses sustainable shopping with the Green Alliance and the Associate Director of the UNH Sustainability Academy.

The first thing to consider when holiday shopping is if our friends and relatives really need any more STUFF. Why not spend money on an enjoyable experience instead, such as tickets to a concert or sporting event? Another idea is a gift certificate to their favorite salon or even to a local farmers market. This type of present cuts down on waste production during the holidays, and can be even more personal and thoughtful than something from the mall.

Another factor to consider when shopping is how items are packaged. If possible, try to avoid buying products with excess packaging, especially plastic, that will just end up in our landfills, or worse, the ocean. And whenever possible, bring reusable bags to every store you visit instead of accumulating more plastic shopping bags!

In addition to the type of packaging, it’s important to consider what materials the items themselves are made from. Are the gifts on your list made out of recycled or local sources? A great example of this is Earth Tec, which recently opened a store in downtown Portsmouth. Much of their clothing is made from recycled plastic bottles!

You should also think about where you are shopping this holiday season. Do the stores have sustainable business practices? Are they a local company? Shopping locally cuts down on the carbon footprint of the products by greatly reducing transportation costs, and it contributes to the local economy. On November 26th, celebrate Small Business Saturday by shopping at your favorite local store. Visit their facebook page for more information and to find participating businesses in your area!

For more great local companies, eco-friendly goods, and recommended gift certificates, check out the Blue Ocean Society Holiday Gift Guide. Or even better, shop at the Blue Ocean Society store for marine creature adoptions, clothing, stuffed animals, photo notecards, and more!

In addition, you can join Blue Ocean Society and Historic New England for a Holiday Sale & Open House at the Gov. John Langdon House at 143 Pleasant St. in Portsmouth. A selection of gift items will be offered, including free gift wrapping with any purchase. There will also be refreshments and free tours of the house. These will occur on Sunday, Dec 4th from 12-4 pm and Thursday, Dec 8th from 4-7 pm.

For more information about our upcoming events, visit the Blue Ocean Society website. And feel free to add your own suggestions for sustainable shopping ideas or your favorite local businesses in the comments here or on Facebook or Twitter !

Good luck shopping sustainably and have a great holiday season!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bag It: Is your life too plastic?

Did You Know…?
Over 10,000 plastic bags were found during approximately 1,000 Blue Ocean Society beach cleanups from 2006-2010 – that’s an average of about 10 plastic bags per cleanup!

BAG IT: Is your life too plastic?
Join Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conversation for a free screening of the award winning documentary.

Where: Portsmouth Public Library

When: Wednesday, October 26th, 6:30 pm

Also featuring:
• Announcement of the 2011 NH Coastal Cleanup results!
• Learn how you can help locally
• Free desserts, refreshments, and giveaways!

Desserts kindly donated by Me & Ollies and Beach Pea Baking Co.

More info and RSVP on Facebook

This program series is funded under the Coastal Zone Management Act by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management in conjunction with the New Hampshire Coastal Program.

Check out our other upcoming events here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2011 Student Cleanup

Students from Nute Middle School at Foss Beach in Rye, NH
Last Friday, as part of the NH Coastal Cleanup, six different local schools participated in our annual student cleanup day! Approximately 500 students, teachers, and chaperones cleaned up Hampton Beach, North Beach, Foss Beach, and Wallis Sands. Over 400 pounds of trash were removed from these sites, including 135 beverage cans, 137 cups/utensils, 137 cigar tips, 172 plastic bottles, 194 lobster traps, 228 straws, 359 plastic bags, 472 food wrappers, 474 pieces of rope, 991 bottle caps/lids, and 17,738 cigarette butts!

Thank you to Nottingham School, Sant Bani School, Hampstead Middle School, Nute Middle School, Dondero School, and Little Harbour school for once again participating in our student cleanup day and making a difference on our local beaches!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thank you, volunteers!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2011 NH Coastal Cleanup! It was a beautiful day to be on the beach and it sounds like we had many successful cleanups all over the state!

On Saturday, seventeen troops from the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains cleaned up Route 1A in Rye and removed over 1,000 pounds of trash! Here are some great photos of Loudon Cadette Troop #12356.

Another big thanks to the students from Winnacunnet High School who also participated in the NH Coastal Cleanup! Last Thursday they removed about 4,000 pounds of trash from Fox Point in Newington!

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Hampshire Coastal Cleanup - Where Can You Help?

Litter pulled from under the Portsmouth Fish Pier in the 2010 NH Coastal Cleanup by divers from United Divers of NH
The New Hampshire Coastal Cleanup is coming up on Saturday, September 17. Would you like to volunteer? Here are some sites where we could use volunteers. Sign up and find more information at!

Site Start Time
Durham Landing, Durham 9:00 AM
Foss Beach, Rte. 1A, Rye 8:00 AM
Ft. Stark, Wild Rose Lane, New Castle 9:30 AM
Hampton Beach, Rte. 1 A, Hampton 9:00 AM
Hilton Park, Dover Point 10:00 AM
Great Island Common, New Castle 10:00 AM
North Hampton State Beach, North Hampton 9:00 AM
Scammell Bridge, Rte. 4, Durham 10:00 AM
Jenness Beach, Rte. 1A, Rye 10:00 AM
Wallis Sands/Pirate's Cove, Rye 9:00 AM
Odiorne Point State Park, Rte. 1A, Rye 10:00 AM

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Poster-Hangers Wanted!

Congratulations to NH Coastal Cleanup poster contest winners Henry Smith (Nottingham School, Grade 8) and Scott Watson (Dover, NH, Age 7)!  If you can spare an hour or so to help us hang up posters around the Seacoast, NH region, please e-mail us at info (at) and we'll make arrangements to get some to you.  Thank you for your help!

Picture by Henry Smith (Nottingham School, Grade 8)

Picture by Scott Watson (Dover, NH, Age 7)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sign Up Now for the International Coastal Cleanup!

Girl Scouts in Rye, NH at the
2010 New Hampshire Coastal Cleanup
One of the easiest, most fulfilling ways you can help the marine environment is by participating in a beach cleanup.  One hour of your time can make a huge difference to the appearance of a beach, and the impacts of litter on marine life.

This is a perfect time to join a cleanup, as the Mother of All Beach Cleanups - the International Coastal Cleanup - is coming up on Saturday, September 17, 2011. Last year, over 600,000 volunteers participated worldwide - and picked up 8 million pounds of trash!

Here in New Hampshire, over 1,300 volunteers picked up over 6,000 pounds of trash along 19 miles of coastline. Can you guess what the #1 item was, and how many we found? Leave your guess in the comments!

Whether you're in New Hampshire or Nigeria, on the ocean or inland, there's likely a cleanup somewhere near you.  Click here to check out the Ocean Conservancy's  site, which allows you to search for and sign up for a cleanup.

If you're in New Hampshire, I look forward to seeing you on the 17th!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Join Us at Our Trash Bash on Thursday, August 4!

Trash Bash - A Celebration for a Clean Ocean

Thursday, August 4Image courtesy The Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean
5:00-7:00 PM
Kittery Point Yacht Yard
48 Bowen Road
Kittery, ME
More info
For over 10 years, we've studied marine debris on shore - and learned a lot about trends in marine debris and potential impacts on the marine environment. We are just beginning to study marine debris underwater, and are excited that we'll be taking giant steps to learn more about the amounts of marine debris off our shores with work that will be done along the New Hampshire coastline this week!
We're excited to be working with The Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean ( August 2-5 to look for accumulations of marine debris along the New Hampshire coastline using sidescan sonar. This initial mapping of marine debris off our coast will allow us to develop a plan for removal.  This effort is part of our NOAA-funded Marine Debris to Energy Project, a project to detect, monitor and remove marine debris along the coastline from southern Maine to northern Massachusetts.

The work will be done aboard the American Promise, a 60-foot sailing vessel made famous by Dodge Morgan's solo round-the-world voyage, and used for the last twenty years as a offshore sail training vessel for the United States Naval Academy.

Come check out the Rozalia project's trash-finding ROV in action, tour American Promise and chat with Rozalia Project and Blue Ocean Society crew at our Trash Bash this Thursday! Enjoy food and drink, and win Rozalia Project t-shirts and goodies thanks to the Boat US Foundation. This is great for all ages and is free Rozalia Project logoand open to the public.

This event is brought to you by Rozalia Project with the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, Boat US FoundationKittery Point Yacht Yard andOptima Bank. For more information and to RSVP, visit the event Facebook page or call Blue Ocean Society at 603-431-0260, or respond to this email. You can find directions to the Kittery Point Yacht Yard (Kittery location) here.
Marine Debris to Energy Project partners: Blue Ocean Society for Marine ConservationNH Sea GrantUNH Cooperative Extension and University of Georgia. Derelict fishing gear detection and removal work done in partnership with NH Commercial Fishermen's Association, NH Fish and Game, NH Port Authority, Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Association, Waste Management and Wheelabrator Technologies

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Foss Beach cleanup

Thanks to the guys from the USS Memphis who picked up 250 lbs of trash from Foss Beach on Tuesday July 19th! We found 122 pieces of rope > 1 m, including one large tangle of ropes and nets that weighted over 70 lbs!

For our full list of upcoming cleanups, visit

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sad Spongebob Sighting

I spent the afternoon on a whale watch, seeing majestic creatures do majestic things. Here's my least-favorite sighting of the day - a mylar balloon, approximately 20 miles out at sea.  How coincidental that it appears to be a Spongebob Squarepants balloon!

Despite what the balloon industry says, balloons are dangerous to marine life, who can swallow them and/or get entangled in the strings. We see balloons all the time on our whale watches (hundreds each summer, in fact - go here to map them out), and can't always stop to pick them up - so please, always dispose of balloons responsibly!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Does Carry In, Carry Out Work?

Hampton Beach, Spring 2009.
Courtesy Linda Gebhart
The Portsmouth Herald reported today on the problem of litter at area beaches, citing data from on the top 5 debris types collected at our Jenness Beach cleanups in Rye, NH (cigarette butts, bottle caps, rope, plastic bags, and straws). Surprisingly, at a cleanup last week, a syringe was found, something relatively unusually for that beach, but very dangerous considering the huge numbers of beachgoers expected this holiday weekend.

In the article, businesses across the street lamented the lack of trash bins at the beach - a product of the "Carry In, Carry Out" policy at state beaches - saying that people will often walk across the street to the beach businesses to ask them to dispose of their trash.  One, Tyler McGill of Summer Sessions Surf Shop said, "The idea of 'carry-in, carry-out' is a great in concept," McGill said. "The reality is people aren't going to."

We worked with Dr. Jenna Jambeck at the University of New Hampshire on a survey about attitudes toward marine debris in 2006-2007. We asked about the state's Carry In, Carry Out policy, and of 472 respondents, 54% said "I think garbage cans should be provided, and I would use them," while 35% said, "It doesn't make a difference to me, I just bring my trash home."  Fifty-three percent of respondents also said that having trash bins would be most effective at deterring litter at the beach.
Hampton Beach, Spring 2009.
Courtesy Linda Gebhart

But trash bins, and monitoring them, cost money - and may also attract pests.  Amy Bassett, public information officer for NH State Parks, was quoted saying, "I think (carry-in, carry-out) is a program that's successful in a lot of places...I do think it adds to your experience of the natural setting. It puts that responsibility on us, meaning me as a user."

I have mixed feelings on the issue. I agree we should all be responsible for our trash. But beaches in many places provide trash bins as an amenity, and it's definitely convenient. I visited beaches in Florida and Hawai'i over the winter and saw trash cans, but no wildlife or birds around them. And I'll admit, there was still some litter on the beach, despite the trash bins.

What do you think - does Carry In, Carry Out work? What is needed to keep our beaches litter-free?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Project Represented at National Marine Educator's Conference

This week, I had the opportunity to do two talks about our work at the National Marine Educator's Conference in Boston, MA.  Although it's called the National Marine Educator's conference, attendees included people from not just the continental U.S., but Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa and even Australia. Despite the differences in the environments in which we work, the challenges seem to be similar, and there have been some themes in the talks I've been to:

  • How to better integrate the oceans into what kids are learning in school (one presentation mentioned that 50% of people in the U.S. live within 50 miles of the coast, and even in coastal areas, there is very little taught about the oceans and their importance!); 
  • Working with volunteers - how important they are in marine education;
  • Increasing learning about the oceans by using a multi-disciplinary approach, such as incorporating art and nature journaling;
  • Using partnerships to accomplish our goals.
One of my talks was on the successful partnership established through the Marine Debris to Energy Project - made up of Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, NH Sea Grant, UNH Cooperative Extension and the University of Georgia, and how we've been able to do even more marine debris removal work by working with the NH Commercial Fishermen's Association, NH Fish and Game, and NH Port Authority. We've removed over 60 tons of marine debris from the environment in about 15 months - something that couldn't have happened without us all working together!

I also spoke about our Whales & Marine Debris web site, which maps sightings of whales and litter. I was happy to have lots of formal and informal educators in the room, and to hear their feedback. We've been working on lesson plans to accompany the site, which we'll be sending to them to hopefully test out. We'll also post it here once we get it uploaded to the web.

I'm headed down to Boston again today and looking forward to talks on whales, marine debris, and more on integrating marine science experiences into classrooms.

Enjoy the holiday weekend! 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thank you, John Hancock!

The employees from John Hancock in Portsmouth cleaned up Jenness Beach last night, Wednesday June 29th. A total of 115 pounds of marine debris was removed from the beach! The trash filled up the whole trunk of my car:

The rope and fishing line were then taken to the NH Marine Debris to Energy project dumpster at Rye Harbor.

Learn more about this program at and check out our upcoming cleanup schedule at .

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beach Cleanup at Jenness Beach, 6/29

If you're looking for a chance to help the marine environment this week, join us at our monthly beach cleanup this Wednesday, June 29, 6:30 PM at Jenness Beach in Rye! We'll provide all supplies, although volunteers are encouraged to bring their own work gloves and/or reusable bags so that we use less disposables. You can find more information on this cleanup, and other upcoming cleanups here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Salisbury Beach clean-up

Thank you to the team of volunteers from Citrix Systems who cleaned Salisbury beach on Thursday, June 16th! We had a beautiful day and picked up 34 pounds of trash!

If you'd like to join us for a beach cleanup, check out our schedule of upcoming events:

We will also gladly schedule a cleanup for a group of 10 or more people!

Thanks again to the Citrix employees - hopefully you can join us for another cleanup this summer!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

NH Sea Grant/UNH Cooperative Extension and Blue Ocean Society Take Steps to Reduce Marine Debris

The NH Sea Grant and Blue Ocean Society have joined together to create the Marine Debris to Energy Project in an effort to reduce the amount of debris that is either thrown away as waste or ends up in the marine environment. One of the debris materials that the project is focusing on is monofilament fishing line. Fishing line takes up to 600 years to decompose and can have many negative impacts on a variety of marine wildlife when improperly disposed of in the environment. Hundreds of fish, birds and even land animals are harmed every year due to entanglement. When wildlife become entangled in or ingest monofilament, it can result can be the loss of the animal’s flippers, tails, or wings and can cause drowning, starvation, and death. Boat propellers can even get entangled in discarded monofilament line, causing costly repairs for boat owners.

To effectively address the issue of monofilament fishing line, NH Sea Grant and the Blue Ocean have directed efforts on collaborating with charter fishing companies, marinas, and bait and tackle shops in Portsmouth, Rye, Seabrook and Hampton. These businesses have been asked to participate by allowing collection bins to be placed at marinas, shops, or directly on fishing vessels. Any excess or used monofilament fishing line can be thrown into the collection bins rather than being tossed in the trash or left at risk of entering the environment. When the collection bins have been filled they are picked up by organization staff members so that the monofilament fishing line can be recycled. The project is cost free to anyone who chooses to participate. If you would like to learn more information about the project please visit the NH Marine Debris to Energy Project website:

In addition to the project created by NH Sea Grant and the Blue Ocean Society, another program, the Stow It – Don’t Throw It Project has been created by Sean Russell. This project works with youth to create and distribute personal-sized monofilament fishing line recycling bins as a way to reduce marine debris. More information on the Stow It – Don’t Throw It Project can be found at

Locations of Current Monofilament Collection Bins:
Reel Job
Hampton River Marina
Hampton, NH
5 Gallon Bucket
N 42° 54 10/W 70° 49 04

Shoals Fly Fishing and Light Tackle
Wentworth By the Sea Marina
New Castle, NH
5 Gallon Bucket
N 43° 03 31.3/W 70° 43 39.6

The Chandlers Loft
7 Pickering Ave.
Portsmouth, NH
PVC Container
N 43° 04 25.7/W 70° 44 56.9

Great Bay Marine
61 Beane Lane
Newington, NH
PVC Container
N 43° 06 55.3/W 70° 50 05.4

Reel Ecstasy
Great Bay Marine
Newington, NH
5 Gallon Bucket
N 43° 06 57.2/W 70° 50 08.0

Wentworth By The Sea Marina
116 Morgans Way
New Castle, NH
PVC Container
N 43° 03 31.0/W 70° 43 39.3

Rye Harbor
Harbor Rd.
Rye, NH
PVC Container
N 43° 00 06.6/W 70° 45 06.3

Friday, June 10, 2011

Beach Cleanups Saturday 6/11

Want to join a beach cleanup tomorrow (Saturday, 6/11)? We have a couple opportunities for you to do so!

  • North Hampton Beach, North Hampton, NH: hosted by Friends of North Hampton Beach, 8 AM. Details here
  • Short Sands Beach, York, ME: hosted by Gentiques, 9 AM. Details here
Marine debris such as straws, cigarette butts, plastic, rope, and fishing line can be hazardous to marine life. If you can give even an hour of your time, you can make a huge difference!

If you can't make it this weekend, you can see a list of more upcoming cleanups on Blue Ocean Society's web site here. Hope to see you soon!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Where Did the Disks Go?

Disks collected on Herring Cove
Beach, Provincetown, MA, 4/8/11
We're still finding disks from the Hooksett, NH wastewater treatment plant here in NH. In fact, recent news said that they had made it all the way to Nantucket, MA. Since I last posted about the issue, the company EnPro Environmental Services has been contracted to do the cleanup, although we're still actively participating by picking up disks and reporting the locations to EnPro.

This has been a spectacular demonstration of how trash travels. A model of the disk spill was created by Liuzhi Zhao, Changsheng Chen and Qichun Xu at UMASS Dartmouth and R. C. Beardsley at WHOI with support from Ru Morrison. This experiment was suggested by Ru Morrison as an example of the Northeast Coastal Ocean Forecast System (NECOFS) applications of NERACOOS, the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems. Check out the model below:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Your Help Needed - Emergency Beach Cleanup

Plastic discs on a NH beach. Photo courtesy NHDES
Your help is needed for an emergency cleanup of our beaches!

Recently, small white circular mesh disks, approximately 2" in diameter, were released into the Merrimack River from the Hooksett, NH Wastewater Treatment Facility following heavy rainstorms (see NHDES press release and WMUR news story). It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of the disks were released to the Merrimack River - these are now in MA and NH coastal areas and beaches.

Join us for a beach cleanup and help rid the beach of these discs before they wash back offshore, where they will litter the environment and have the potential to harm marine life.

Please join us and NHDES anytime between 12-5 PM on Thursday, 3/17 - you can pick up cleanup supplies at one of the following stations. Stay as little or as long as you can:

  • North Hampton State Beach
  • Hampton - At the beach parking lot across from the Ashworth Hotel in Hampton
  • Seabrook - At the beach parking area south of the Hampton River Bridge (near the Yankee Fishermen's Co-op)

SAFETY NOTE: Preliminary results of the most recent sampling of disks in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts indicate no bacterial contamination with e. coli. However, out of an abundance of caution, DES and the NH Division of Public Health Services advise that citizens should treat the disks as though they may contain bacterial contamination. Therefore, if you do a cleanup on your own, please use disposable gloves and wear sturdy, close-toed shoes. Visit for more information.

Questions? Leave a comment here or call 603-431-0260

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Blue Ocean Society E-newsletter Up

I sent out a new e-newsletter for Blue Ocean Society yesterday - you can access it here.

Read about our upcoming presentation at the 5th International Conference on Marine Debris, our new pet waste outreach video, and upcoming events, including beach cleanups and other volunteer opportunities!  Thanks for reading!

Blue Ocean Society Releases 'Beach Karma' Video

Along the lines of our last post on pet waste, Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation just released a new short video, Beach Karma. What happens when you don't take care of a beach? Watch below to find out!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pet Waste Is Marine Debris, Too

Last night we had a Winter Social in Portsmouth, NH where we revealed a 1-minute video public service announcement titled, "Beach Karma" (will be posted here soon!) - a video about the importance of picking up after your pet.

As a conservation organization, we got started on beach cleanups because we wanted to remove harmful debris from the beach.  We were thinking mostly of the potential impacts of marine debris such as lost rope, fishing line, balloons, straws, bags, etc., that can entangle or choke wildlife.

Then, a few winters ago, we found ourselves dodging dog piles every few feet at one of our cleanups, and wanted to do something about dog waste.  Why is dog waste bad?

Pet waste: 

  • May carry diseases that are transmittable to humans
  • Contains bacteria that can wash directly into the ocean after a snow or rainstorm.
If you leave your dog's waste on the beach, bacteria can wash into the ocean, and if enough gets into the ocean, the beach (and other areas, such as clamming flats) may be closed.  Put simply, dogs are good, but stuff in dog poop is bad. You can help by picking up after your pet, wherever you are!

If you are concerned about the issue of pet waste, check out Blue Ocean Society's SCOOP (Seacoast Canine Owner's Outreach Program)  here.  As part of the project, we're doing outreach to pet owners, but also tracking dog waste on the beaches (using data cards at our regular beach cleanups) so that we can see if our education efforts are making a difference.

Artwork originally designed by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality/Funded in part by U.S. EPA 319 Program

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Learn About NH Marine Debris Efforts Tonight!

Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation is hosting a Winter Social tonight (February 10), from 5:30-7:30 PM upstairs at the Press Room, 77 Daniel Street in Portsmouth.  We'll have free appetizers, a cash bar, raffle prizes, and will be premiering our new short video, "Beach Karma"!

Come learn about our efforts to keep beaches clean and monitor marine debris on the coast. For more information visit our Facebook page. Hope to see you there!

See Whales & Marine Debris on New Mapping Site

We've been working with Shane Bradt at UNH Cooperative Extension to develop a mapping web site that shows sightings of some of our favorite local whales, along with the sightings of floating litter we've collected over the years. The idea is to show that (obviously) whales and marine debris overlap, and provide a glimpse of what whales have to deal with as they cruise through our waters in the Gulf of Maine.

The site's at its initial stages, and we're looking for feedback!  Is it easy to use? Is it useful to you - how?  We're particularly hoping to make this useful to marine educators, although we also hope it'll be helpful to those who just want to explore where whales have been during the summer months. Let us know what you think by sending an email to jen (at) or commenting here!