Monday, March 28, 2011

Plastic beaches?

Yesterday I walked along the main beach on Midway Atoll  and I noticed something a little peculiar. The sand is so white, it seems like it's glowing but when you look a little closer you see that the beaches are filled with little pieces of plastic. Some are as large as a laundry basket and others, a gain of sand.

I thought this was really disappointing. To see that the beach is already so filled with plastic was really hard and so sad. We're in way over our heads with this problem of plastic pollution and if we don't change our habits of abusing single use/disposable plastics then our beaches will soon be composed of only plastic. I thought of this quote by John Wayne while I was sitting there "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." I am honestly so scared and intimidated by what I've been seeing here on Midway Atoll but it has inspired me more then ever to live plastic free and to tell people what they can do to use less plastic and share the horrors of what is happening here. I will be speaking to schools and other organizations when I return and I would willingly share my stories with you or your organization. Please email me, and I would be honoured to present to your group. 

As I have said before, everyday I notice something new about this island, sometimes good and far too often sad. Shorty after I walked along the beach, Victoria Sloan Jordan our production coordinator and I went to this field that was filled with albatross! 

We went there because we knew that there was an extraordinary amount of plastic in the grass with the birds. So we collected as much as we could so we can show people in our presentations and had a few curious albatross come over to check us out!

  After, we ran out to catch the sunset. It was gorgeous and the crew got some great shots.



Saturday, March 26, 2011


In Hawaiian "Ohana" means family. Here on Midway I have found myself a family like none other. The team that I came here with has bonded in a way that I will never forget. They all treat me like a daughter or a sister. Chris and Victoria Jordan have taken on the role of being my "parents" while I'm here and they're so sweet. I can't thank them enough, being my parents isn't an easy role!

Not only is it the people that we came here with, but the people on the island as well. They have all welcomed us so graciously with open arms. This place is like one big family. Everyone greets each other by name and with a smile on their face. The Fish and Wildlife Crew have been so accommodating with our schedules and theirs. I would love to give a big shout out and thanks to them!

Thank you so much to my new ohana! 

Last night Kris took Victoria and I out to see the ghost crabs. It was so eerie! There's no lights on the island, no streetlights or anything so once the sun goes down it's pitch black! When you're on the beach you can shine your flashlight along the shore and all that you can see is millions of white crabs! It's so crazy! We were walking down the beach, barefoot, with no lights, praying we wouldn't step on them but they're good at getting out the way. The crabs were a little creepy because they looked like spiders! We also found some bioluminescence on the shores. When you drag your foot through the sand you can see little shimmers of light occasionally. I can't wait to get back out there and explore the beach at night again!

Emily :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Glorious Day

Yesterday our group took a short boat ride from Midway to Eastern Island where we spent our morning. We were told that Eastern had been badly damaged by the tsunami that hit it just a week prior to our arrival but I wasn't fully prepared for what we saw.

The first thing that I noticed was the outrageous amount of flies. No matter where you were on the island there was always a thousand flies near by. The smell also unveiled the death of the albatross caused by the tsunami, it smelled kind of like rotten milk and dirty gym socks. But the worst part of going to Eastern was seeing all the empty nests and dead albatross chicks and parents alike. The volunteers are in the process of cleaning the island but it will be very difficult.

(A fish washed ashore from the tsunami) 

I've come to realize that Midway is this massive paradox. It's so full of death yet there is so much amazing life being made there as well. While on Eastern Island, we had the privilege of seeing a Short-tailed Albatross chick. This bird is extremely endangered so we were so lucky to catch a glimpse of this little guy.  On our way back we saw a huge pod of dolphins! Our boat driver, Jason was so kind and he let us drive around with them for a while. It was so cool, I've never seen anything like them before!

After lunch we had the privilege of going snorkelling! The staff here are all so amazing and they happily accommodate us. They took us right out to the reef and we saw all sorts of amazing fish. I will post Kris Krug's pictures that he took underwater as soon as they're up. The coral was the most magnificent colour of purple that I have never seen before!

Later that night we all set out to watch the sunset from Rusty Bucket Beach. It was a wonderful sunset with some amazing colours. After the sun set we watched the stars and my goodness it was glorious!

As I was sitting there I wrote down some thoughts that were going through my mind:

- I am so amazed by the power of the sun. Here you can see from horizon to horizon, such a large distance yet this ball of gas 150 million kilometres away can give light to this huge expanse of land.

- Everyday I've noticed something different but equally beautiful about our planet. I see beauty in things that I never thought I would like rust and byproducts from a huge war.

-From Rusty Bucket you can see a full 180 degrees around you of plain ocean. You're nineteen hundred kilometres from the closest country and all that you can see is ocean. It appears that the water is just spilling off the edge of the earth!

It felt as though we were in a snow globe or something. The true beauty of this island cannot be captured, it must be experienced.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"In this Midway Place"

Midway Atoll is the most beautiful place I have ever been in my whole life. From the moment we stepped off the air plane all that you could hear was the amazing voices of the laysan Albatross. They have the most versatile calls, from mooing to clapping these guys will certainly keep you awake all night. When you look outside, all that you can see is what appears to be a sea of birds and in places you can hardly walk through all of them.

Its truly a wonderful place full of so much beauty. The ocean is breathtaking and it shines colours of blue that I have never seen before in my life. 

I could go on for hours about the magnificence of this remote place but there's also this strange presence of an extreme horror.

Today Chris Jordan dissected a baby albatross and through heart wrenching tears, we found nothing but plastic within this already dead albatross chick. So that means that from such a young age these birds are being fed our garbage. It is horrible.

Its such a strange paradox to see this dead bird, filled with plastic garbage yet all around him was other albatross' doing their amazing mating dance. It's so strange to see so much death and new life all coming together.

That is what I've been struggling with here on Midway and it's only the first day. We're surrounded by ultimate beauty in this utopia yet there's this awful cycle of death happening all around us everyday.

Something needs to change.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Arrived in Honolulu- Almost there!

I finally made it to Honolulu last night after being quite ill on the way here. I am just so happy to be here and feeling much better. The view from the plane was great though!

I'm sitting here in the hotel lobby as the film crew is going through their gear. I'm not sure if I made it clear enough in my last post that this is why I'm here -- I'm here with a team of 7 media artists who are creating a film called MIDWAY. It will tell the story of Midway Atoll and outline the harsh reality of plastic pollution. I am so lucky to be here and I'm already learning so much. It's been a little hard to understand their jargon about cameras and film because I'm no professional but I love every second of it.

Our flight leaves for Midway Island at 6pm tonight and I can't wait! We have to fly in at night because there is too many birds in the sky during this season to fly in at any other time of the day. I can't wait to see the sunset from the little jet we're taking!

The team that I'm here with is incredible. They're all so professional and good at what they do but they're unbelievably humble and so genuine. Everyone is amazing and I can't wait to spend the next 2 weeks on this little island learning from them and observing their work.

Expect more posts soon :)


Friday, March 11, 2011

How it all began..

Hi I'm Emily Chartrand and I'm 17 years old. I am about to tell you a bit about my story, through life as a teenager, business owner and environmental activist. This has been an eight year journey that has brought much happiness, tears, laughter and aspiration to bring upon change into my life. 
 It all started eight years ago when I was nine, and my big sister Chanel was twelve years old. Money was tight in my family that year and both my sister and I wanted to be able to give our teachers a nice Christmas gift. This is how Snowman Poop was born. We created a chocolate dipped spoon in a bag with marshmallows to accompany your hot chocolate. Our teachers absolutely loved the product and my family and I being such bold thinkers, thought that maybe we could sell the Poop to get a few extra dollars around Christmas time. We approached six local stores, they loved the product and sold it for two winters. We dipped over 800 chocolate spoons and heard wonderful stories of people who had sent the poop to family and friends all over the world.

From a very young age my mom and dad have taught my sister and I that giving back to society is very important. Snowman Poop enabled us to give back to the world in ways we never could have imagined. For the 2 years of selling Snowman Poop we donated hundreds of dollars to a Unicef educating girls program.
After assessing our business at the end of the second season, we decided that we had enough of working with the mess of melting chocolate and working in the winter months. Chanel and I loved being in business and giving back so we wanted to come up with a summer product! We live close to the Okanagan Lake, home of famous lake monster, Ogopogo, so it was a natural to shift from Snowman Poop to Ogopogo Poop. We chose green watermelon jelly beans to represent the infamous creature's poop. (
To make a very long and exciting story short, over the past seven years we have stuffed over 10 thousand packages of Ogopogo Poop and have supplied over thirty stores and visitors centers in BC with our product! Though Ogopogo Poop my sister and I have also become world travelers. The business enabled us to travel to Montreal to visit our family and to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico twice to help the Children of the Dump. We brought 200 pounds of humanitarian supplies, helped a family renovate their small home by providing a septic system, water tank and concrete floor and we supplied money for 2 girls to go to computer school.

Although I wasn't living in the slums of Calcutta, or somewhere facing far more intense poverty, these experiences weren't easy for an 11 year old to see. I wasn't accustomed to seeing adults and toddlers alike running around in a garbage dump without shoes, scavenging for anything that they could take to sell or to eat.

I have shared my story with many school children and adults. While I was speaking at a goal setting forum in January 2010, I met a fellow presenter whose powerful talk changed the way I thought about my business and society’s use of plastics. Jan Vozenilek ( is a cinematographer and photographer who, with a team of media artists travels to Midway Atoll in the South Pacific Ocean documenting the effects that our plastic waste is having in our oceans and our wildlife.(

Their main focus is on the thousands of Albatross birds who are dying every year with bellies full of our plastic waste. It was a huge eye opener which inspired me to reevaluate my values and business direction.I was so moved by this presentation, I became very involved in this cause and I now serve the many Plastic Free committees and I created one at my high school. 

After much careful consideration my sister and I felt that we could no longer, with good conscience sell a product that is packaged in plastic. We have explored environmentally friendly packaging alternatives and found them all too expensive. So after packaging over 120 thousand jelly beans, we felt it was time to call it a day! With a few tears we officially closed the Ogopogo Poop business a few months ago. I am extremely grateful for this incredible and life changing experience from which I have learned so much. 

Now to the point of my blog. In just 9 days I will be traveling to Midway Island with Jan Vozenilek and the Midway Journey team. I ask that you would please follow me on my journey to highlight and bring attention to the devastating affects that plastic is having on the earth. On this journey I know there will be tears, sorrow and laughter. But ultimately I know that I will come home a new person, more connected to the earth and ready to take on the problems we are facing as generation X and Y. 

Just 9 days left!!