GIG SPARK: You Can Change the Ocean Litter Problem

When you stand next to the ocean, you gain a lot of perspective.

If you stare long enough, the vast, calm and magical mystique envelops you. After spending a short time in Carvoeiro along the southwest coast of Portugal during a vacation this summer, I realized just how cathartic the beach and ocean can be if we sit, surrender and lose our gaze in the waves that come crashing ashore.

I did yoga on the beach, meditated and of course, created a GIG Spark for you to see. Stay tuned for that one.

Here’s a picture of my breathtaking view:

The latest GIG Spark inspired me to do a little digging into the trash littering our oceans. It was disheartening for me to learn about how much of our trash ends up in the water. This causes a vicious cycle of damage to our fragile ecosystem.

According to Jim Oswald from the Marine Mammal Center and this CBS 5 San Francisco segment, there is more than 300 billion — yes with a CAPITAL B — pounds of plastic floating in the world’s oceans. Oswald said, “The garbage consists of everything from plastic jugs and bottles to hair brushes and Styrofoam cups. Much of it comes from China, Japan and the U.S.”

The problem is deep. But you can be part of the solution.

Nicolette Hagan, 22, created this GIG Spark to show us how we can do our part to keep the oceans looking a little more tide(y). She spent two hours along Albany Beach (near the Golden Gate Fields race track) picking up trash on the beach.

Gigster: Nicolette Hagan, 22
Where: Albany, Calif.
Spark: Pick up trash on the beach

Way to go Nicolette!

Here’s what Nicolette learned about being compassionate towards our oceans and nature:

“This opened my eyes to the crisis our oceans are in. Being such a vast amount of water, it’s hard to imagine that we could be depleting and killing it. What people don’t realize is that we cannot survive without the ocean.”


Further south along the California coastline, Sara Bayles of Santa Monica, Calif., committed to spending 20 minutes a day collecting, weighing and blogging about the trash she’s picking up at a nearby beach for 365 non-consecutive days. It’s been more than 307 days. She’s logged more than 1,150 pounds of trash so far. Woo hoo!

Check out her Daily Ocean blog to see how she inspired others around the world to clean up the junk along coastlines around the world.

1. Don’t have an hour or two to pick up trash? That’s OK, do what you can. I saw some garbage on the beach in Carvoeiro and picked it up. That’s a few less pieces of trash swirling around the ocean.

2. Nicolette says she now avoids purchasing products with extensive packaging

3. She is also even more aware of using the three R’s in her daily life: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. (She always uses her own reusable water bottle and has stopped eating seafood. “This is more challenging than it sounds, but I felt it’s hypocritical to say I love aquatic life, and then turn around and eat fish,” she said. “Our oceans are overfished, and the fishing companies are not only taking the life from our oceans, but polluting them at the same time.”

GIG is about inspiring small actions that ripple out to meaningful changes. As we’ve experienced, the ripples continue to billow out, one story, one person, one act at a time.

One of my favorite quotes is from Desmond Tutu: “Each one of us can make a contribution. Too frequently we think we have to do spectacular things. Yet if we remember that the sea is actually made up of drops of water and each drop counts, each one of us can do our little bit where we are. These little bits can come together and almost overwhelm the world. Each of us can be an oasis of peace.”

So please take a stand with us, stand (or jump) next to the ocean and change your perspective and take action so the future generations can enjoy and play here with less debris.

What can YOU do to create a ripple of change? We want to know what you’re doing to help clean up the environment in your area.

We hope this video inspires you to do something to clean up the environment around you in the next 24 hours.


As part of GIG’s mission to inspire our viewers to discover their power, we developed GIG Spark: A Lesson on Compassion. The goal is to spark action in everyone that witnesses your good deed. We want you to identify a problem in your community and be the change by capturing your action in a short 1-1:30 minute video. Use your passion and creativity to produce a GIG Spark and inspire viewers with your story! What can YOU do?

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