POP X Give Mountain Weekend

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We had an incredible mountain weekend experience in Lake Lure, NC, cohosted with Give UNCW. We tackled the brutally cold (and sometimes blizzard conditions) to bring awareness to marine plastic pollution inland- because all bodies of water eventually flow to the ocean. 18 of us ventured into the heart of downtown Asheville on the first day, in rain jackets and all, and explored the Mast General Store, Mamasitas burritos, books and such at the library, and some good brews at Asheville Brewing Co. (21+).

The next day, the crew braced the cold and snow to help support women’s rights during the Asheville Women’s March. Some of girls recycled our pancake boxes from breakfast to make signs to hold up during the march. We had fun walking around, but quickly took retreat into a local coffee shop (using their in-house mugs of course!) On our way back to the house, we passed Hanging Rock where we witnessed a huge waterfall spew half-frozen water for hundreds of feet below…nature is incredible! We then ventured into some local trails to take in more of the sights and sounds of the NC Appalachian mountains. Along the way we removed several wrappers, plastic bottles, and other trash. We stumbled upon another waterfall and some pretty big rocks, acting like kids again, getting lost in the wild.

That night we built a bonfire outside our house, roasted some marshmallows, told ghost stories, and stayed up late to witness a spectacular lunar eclipse (for many of us our first!) When the moon finally became blocked by the Earth’s shadow, hundreds of thousands of stars brightened the sky ever so clearly.

On the last day, we REALLY braced the cold (temps below 15F!) We helped Greenworks remove near 70 lbs of trash from streets of downtown Asheville… trash that would have otherwise made its way into the drains, down the rivers, and impact aquatic life. It was so cold, that at times the garbage was frozen, stuck to the ground (especially cig butts). At the end, we rewarded ourselves with some locally made sandwiches and sweets and made our trek back to Wilmington. Weekend well spent!

Written by: Eric Dzenis

POP Goes Camping w/ NC State

POP Goes Camping

On Nov. 10th-11th UNCW POP teamed up, and camped out, with the NC State Wolfpack Environmental Student Association (WESA), to clean up Crabtree Creek and Black Creek in Raleigh, NC.

We swept for several hours on Saturday morning, and were able to collect 40+ lbs. of trash, most of which was plastic bags, (102) plastic bottles, dismembered car parts, Styrofoam bricks, and other food packaging film. Considering that most of these materials are remarkably light, 40+ lbs. of debris is actually a massive amount, we had a literal truck-load of bags filled to the brim with hundreds - if not thousands - of items. We had doubts when we first arrived at the river because everything already looked so clean; we weren't sure there would be enough debris for our efforts to be worth-while. Both fortunately, and unfortunately, we found plenty of debris to collect and as far as we could tell, we found everything  there was to find. It was so awesome to work with our new friends from WESA, and it's always refreshing to team up with other like-minded and passionate individuals to do something great for the common good of our beautiful planet!

Despite the cold temperatures everyone had a great time, and we certainly look forward to working with WESA again in the future

-Riley Beveridge

Stop Sucking Week

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UNCW Plastic Ocean Project hosted their annual educational awareness week, “Stop Sucking Week” influenced by efforts made by the Lonely Whale Foundation.

The goal of the week was to permanently remove plastic straws from all dining locations, events, and program on the UNCW campus. To create this change, we need the support of our students, faculty, peers, and community. Plastic straws are an unnecessary waste in our daily consumption and behavior. Everyday in the United States alone, 500 million straws are used, and a countless amount find their way into our ocean and our environment. Since we are a university so interconnected with the ocean, it is imperative that we maximize our efforts to reduce plastic waste, and protect what makes our school so great. Let's make UNCW the first campus to be 100% plastic straw free! 

UNCW POP Tabled outside of Randall Library and the Fischer Student Center for four days in November in order to promote our campaign and get students to sign the Stop Sucking Petition. Metal straws were brought to the campus PODS, and paper straws were given out upon request in three dining locations on campus, including Port City Java and Dub’s Cafe. We also offered metal straws (an easy and cheap substitute to plastic straws) , straw facts, buttons, contests, and photo-ops at our table.
#stopsucking

Sign out petition to ban plastic straws on the UNCW campus HERE

Asheville Mountain Weekend - River Sweep

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"The mountains of Burnsville and Asheville, NC did not disappoint the POP crew as they ventured into the heart of the Appalachians for a not-so-typical cleanup. With the thought that "all waters lead to the ocean," it is crucial to protect not only our oceans and beaches, but also our inland environments. Roughly 80% of all marine plastic debris comes from inland sources (National Geographic), and often this plastic is vectored by rivers, streams, estuaries, hurricanes, and other large rain events.

Cleaning up a tributary of the East Toe River, the POP crew successfully cleared a large amount of trash including plastic bottles, wrappers, road signs, plastic home siding, bouncy balls, and a map the Pacific North West (that one was a keeper.)

The Pop crew also took advantage of our beautiful mountains! They explored some scenic (and very cold) views atop mountain peaks, visited a Native American and geology knick-knack shop, enjoyed some pizza and brews at the Asheville Pizza Co., relaxed in front of the wood-burning fireplace, and even got some snowflakes on their tongues. It was a trip well-planned for sure, and a time that was spent not only having fun, but also making an impactful and lasting effect on the places we call home." Riley Beveridge + Eric Dzenis