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Tsunami, a Sea Turtle and Plastic Pollution

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Our thoughts are with our friends and their families in Sendai, Japan. I walked their beautiful coast with my partner Dana and photographer David Barron over a decade ago in search of Adelita's final location. The joy, traditions, hospitality and kindness of the people of Miyagi Prefecture were abundant. The death and destruction from the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent pollution and nuclear plant disaster are heartbreaking. Red Cross and other relief organizations are accepting donations, please help in any way that makes sense to you.

While we tracked Adelita from North America to Japan over the course of 368 days, we also learned about another ocean disaster: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It's a place in the middle of the Pacific where bits and pieces -- mostly plastic -- of our lives wind up, unfortunately entering the life paths of sea turtles, albatross, fish and a wide array of ocean animals.

Nowadays, many organizations around the world are working to reverse the impacts of plastic pollution. This past weekend I was invited to work with the team at Algalita.org on the International Plastics Are Forever Youth Summit. On the shores of Long Beach, California, these students and I witnessed the arrival of the surge from the tsunami born on the other side of the ocean a half-day earlier. We watched the water wash in and out of the harbor, laden with plastic pollution bound for the garbage patch. But these students arrived with solutions and passion, and now are part of an even bigger action network.

This wasn't a meeting designed to complain, fret or point fingers. It was about rethinking the way we live. It was about really making changes. It was about not waiting around for the generation that made the plastic problem to fix the problem.

The team from Kenya has plans to plant vegetation as a swale to keep plastic bags from blowing into the world's largest urban wildlife reserve. And they plan to reuse vinyl billboards as shopping bags to reduce the need for plastic bags and also sew them into tents for refugees.

The team from Monterey is educating millions of visitors to the Monterey Bay Aquarium about plastic pollution by incorporating information and tips into the popular presentations given by aquarium divers.

And the list goes on, Indonesia, Chicago, Italy, The Bronx, Guam, Chile... all around the world, from one inspiring team of young people to the next.

Projects that can be explained in 12 seconds, initiated with 12 dollars and fully developed by 2012. The Power of Twelve!

We shared a blue marble with each attendee, as a token of gratitude to be passed along to the next. The Huntington Beach team is already planning a major school-wide blue marble event this Friday!

Whether the tsunami, sea turtles or plastic pollution, the ocean reminds us in ways both gentle and harsh that we are all truly connected and that we must help each other.

We closed the conference with a discussion about collaboration and staying connected, leading with kindness and gratitude, yet fighting hard to create a world we can believe in. In a phrase: LiVEBLUE!

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