Twelve hundred volunteers cleared 980 pounds of trash and recyclables from Santa Monica’s beaches Saturday as part of the 23rd Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day coordinated in Los Angeles County by Heal the Bay.
Volunteers at the six different beach sites not only got the chance to don gloves and pick up trash, but they also learned about how to take measures in their daily lives to help prevent polluting the ocean. Matthew King, Heal the Bay’s Director of Communications, told the Mirror it was “just as much a day about education as action.”
While picking up items, each participant filled out an “International Coastal Cleanup Data Card,” which included information on the type of debris collected as well as any entangled animals found. The information will be “distributed to help educate the public, business, industry and government officials about marine debris issues.”
This year a bridal gown submerged in the waters off Santa Monica Pier was found by a dive team and was one of the most unusual items found in Los Angeles County during the cleanup. According to Heal the Bay, other unusual items found as part of the Countywide cleanup included “a .357 Magnum-style air pistol at a Playa del Rey-area beach, an expired passport in the sand at Hermosa Beach and a doorless safe and more than 2,000 used or partially filled cans of spray paint in a Wilmington Park.”
Twelve-year-old Jessie Matty told the Mirror he was participating because he “started surfing and wants a clean ocean to boogie board and surf on.”
Other participants included Caroline Li and her students from the UCLA Infant Development Program. She emphasized that it was important “to show children we value being outdoors and taking care of the environment [from a young age] so eventually they will do the same thing.”
According to documents distributed by Heal the Bay, the annual cleanup day, as well as legislation to reduce and prevent marine debris pollution, is needed because “an estimated 80 percent of marine debris comes from land-based sources.” In addition, “Roughly 60-80 percent of all marine debris and 90 percent of floating debris is plastic,” which can take hundreds of years to break down at sea.
The Countywide cleanup, which included beaches, parks, alleys, creeks, highways and storm drains, yielded 73,722 pounds of trash and 5,512 pounds of recyclables.
The day before the cleanup, students from Santa Monica’s Will Rogers Elementary School and other Title I schools in Los Angels County came to a Coastal Cleanup Education Day in Santa Monica. They visited educational stations and then engaged in a beach cleanup.
Heal the Bay’s King noted that the cleanup day occurred in all 50 states and in 70 countries, and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “largest single day of volunteer effort on the planet.”