One Step at at Time – Cleaning up the Coast

I’m blessed to live in a very beautiful part of the world – in the town of Honningsvåg on the island of Magerøya in the North Cape of Norway.  One of my favorite things to do is go hiking.  Whether I’m with my family, friends or by myself, a hike always lifts my spirits.

Just as the inspiring nature enriches my life, there’s a harsh reality that meets my eyes every time I’m on a hike – Ocean pollution.  The first time my little girl saw the trash- filled shoreline, she said, “It’s sad here, Mommy.”  And I couldn’t agree more.

trash, ocean pollution, norway

At the beginning of 2012 I posed the question:  Ocean pollution: What’s Your Solution?

ocean pollution, debris on shore, nordkapp, norway

My solution to this gigantic problem is to do what I can to positively impact the environment around me.  I know it won’t eliminate the horrendous amounts of floating plastics swirling in the ocean’s currents but it’s a step in the right direction.

So what’s my solution?  I decided to start a project called “One Step at a Time/Ett Skritt om Gangen” with the goal of helping clean up the coastline of the island I call home.  Last year I began finding and photographing shoes when I was out hiking.  I thought the first one was rare and unique:

shoes, ocean pollution, ett skritt om gangen

But then I kept finding more and more shoes and boots:

shoes, norway, ocean pollution

And the concept of Ett Skritt om Gangen/One Step at a Time was born.  I decided that every time I found a shoe I’d take a photo of it, put in my backpack and give it a “new” life – an art installation in the Summer of 2013.  The goal of the art exhibit:  To raise awareness about ocean pollution, as well as funds to help clean up one remote coastline at a time.

You may be wondering if there really are so many shoes decorating Magerøya’s rocky coasts.  And I can tell you that after only four hiking trips I’ve collected over 140 shoes.

shoes, ocean pollution, nordkapp, norway

I have a goal of collecting 1,000 shoes and can’t wait to start creating this installation.  There’s no way I can do this on my own, but hopefully with the help of a lot of local residents that also love this island and enjoy hiking, we’ll be able to reach the goal before winter arrives.

28 thoughts on “One Step at at Time – Cleaning up the Coast

    1. I wonder as well.. I think many of them have been washed off boats – there are many fishing boots and rubber gloves as well as a ton of fishing nets, floats and much more. I also think some shoes were likely swept off some far-away beaches, like flip-flops. I don’t think that the majority belong to drowning victims… at least I HOPE not! But whatever their stories, they are great symbols for the footprints we make in this world, the lives we’ve lead, and the journeys ahead. Thanks for your well-wishes.

  1. It is absolutely stunning how much garbage is floating ashore in your tiny corner of the world…and those shoes, of all things…. I’m with Chillbrook…good luck with your clean-up efforts and your upcoming art exhibit.

    1. I know, Scott. It’s weird. Why shoes? But anyway, I think it’s a good symbol for the project. Going shoe hunting tomorrow. We’ll see how many I find.

    1. Thanks Karen. I’m looking forward to working on it. My largest paintings are only around 90×70 cm so working on three dimensional pieces that can cover an entire wall will be fun and challenging. Can’t wait.

  2. Well Done! We loved your post so you have been awarded a Grade 4 BlOgcean Award from us! Your one of a group of the first ever to get this award, so we would be grateful if you could spread the word about us! If you want to know more about us and your award go to:
    Keep up the great work! And go on our Blog to nominate someone else’s blog too if you feel like it! Be sure to follow us and nominate someone 🙂

  3. Great initiative, and a fun hobby! Maybe you should consider getting the townspeople together to throw a beach cleaning party? I would join you if I could…

    1. Thanks Tokyobling. Gathering local people is part of the goal. I’m hoping that the money raised will pay for renting a large boat and going into one of the remote bays. And then we need a lot of local helpers walk the beaches and remove and sort the trash and debris. So if you want you can join.. next summer 🙂

  4. Is it not horrible what we do to mother art.
    Sounds like a good idea to raise awareness.
    I and some friends have started to save all packaging that we think are unnecessary when we buy food in the supermarkets. (like cough drops individually wrapped in a bag or tooth paste in plastic packaging and then put in a paper box)
    We then bring it back to the supermarket. They have actually started to ask for less packaging from many producers of goods.

    Good luck with your project and perfect love!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. Great idea with taking the packaging back to the store. I agree… the amount of packaging is absurd. Wishing you continued success with that project as well. 🙂 Erica

  5. Reblogged this on experiencenorthcape and commented:

    Two years ago I started a campaign, One Step at a Tme, to rid the North Cape coastlines of trash. At the time of this post that I’m rebloging, I’d collected 140 shoes from the island’s beaches. Now over 1,200 shoes and boots have been collected by myself and many members of the community. In June of this year, I will be opening an art exhibition with art made from these shoes. The goal: Raise awareness about ocean pollution, as well as funds to help rid the pristine North Cape coastline of plastic. I’ll be sharing more about this journey in the months to come, leading up to an art exhibition that’s been 2.5 years in the making.

  6. Hej !
    Nu var det ett tag sedan jag senast hade tid att uppdatera mig i bloggvärlden … Din blogg är som alltid mycket läs och tänkvärd …
    Detta projekt som du startat är helt fantastiskt … Keep up the good work ! …
    Jag försöker också engagera mig i naturen där jag bor … Sjön där jag bor börjar att växa igen pga föroreningar …
    Fjällvärlden i Jämtland exploateras i en rasande takt med tragisk påverkan för våra samer … Och för våra vilda djur … De finns snart inget utrymme för dem att vistas på …
    // Maria 🙂

    1. Takk Maria.

      Ja, det er masse vi kan engasjere oss i. Supert at du er involverte hvor du bor. Hvis alle kan gjør litt, blir det mye til slutt. Takk for dine positive ord. Setter pris på det. Ha en fin helg.

  7. That is a relly great idea. I’m looking forward how your art installation turns out. It’s really exciting to follow this project. And I wonder why especially at your coast is so much trash. I’ve never seen so much trash on a coast like on your photos. It’s scary. Ha en riktig god ettermiddag! 🙂

    1. I guess it is because of the ocean currents, but it is quite amazing that the remote coastlines in this area can still have such enormous amounts of trash. Very sad.

    1. A large percentage of the trash is from the fishing industry, but there are everyday items as well: tooth paste tubes and brushes, ketchup bottles, plastic bottles in all sizes, light bulbs (surprisingly not broken??), computers, refrigerators…and on and on. People have used the ocean as a trash can and the ocean currents dump it on the shores. Tragic indeed.

  8. A wonderful project. The oceans need more people like you. Good luck with your exhibition. A local artist here in QLD Australia did a similar thing by constructing a life-size turtle from all the plastics that washed up on our beach. It caused a stir and bought a lot of awareness to the pollution in our oceans. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you. Sounds like a great idea with the turtle! We have a woman here in Norway who makes small houses/cabins at the beaches with trash and then people can use them when they are visiting the beach. It’s inspiring to hear what people can do with a bit of creativity.

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