The annual Coastal Cleanup Day was Sept. 15, from 9 a.m. to noon, with many Southern Californians participating in the event to give the coast a freshwater sparkle.
Heal The Bay has been part of the Malibu community for many years, during which bumper stickers are seen on the back of cars to show the community’s support for the coastal cleanup. According to the organization, the L.A. County coastal cleanup day has been around for 23 years with more than 60 sites; more than 800,000 people have gathered more than 14 million pounds of trash along the coast.
Sophomore Jenny Yoon had her first experience at the Coastal Cleanup Day this year at a site in Orange County. She participated at the Long Beach station with many other volunteers. “The experience was great… picking up so much trash with so many people really [made me feel] like I was part of something greater. The group effort also made it a lot more fun, instead of picking up bags of trash by myself on a Saturday morning. My hometown friends and I worked together on trying to fill one trashbag, so the bags filled up pretty quickly. It felt really efficient. I [could] see the physical results pile up as we worked. It was definitely more personal and hands-on than simply donating money to a cause,” said Yoon.
The trash that was picked up varied from the most common to the most bizarre. “There was the normal leftover cans and bottles, tons of plastic caps, the rings that hold together soda cans and cigarette butts. Then we found things like underwear and a [broken] garden gnome. What was a garden gnome doing at a beach?” Yoon said.
Though it was only for three hours, a lot was accomplished. However, for the volunteers, the morning felt very long. Yoon said, “We first had an hour-long orientation about preservation and restoration. They emphasized safety and how to clean the site. They kept on talking about wearing gloves and closed-toe shoes. We were told to bring our own gloves, but they provided fabric gloves at the site for anyone who forgot to bring them. However, people who didn’t have closed-toe shoes couldn’t participate. It was all about safety for an hour.” The hour was followed by an hour and a half of work. “They gave us the option of biking, but we decided to walk. As romantic as walking on the beach looks, it’s actually really tiring. Sand causes a lot of unnecessary friction that slows us down. After a half an hour of work in the flaming 106 degrees, I was ready to unwind and jump in the water.”
The coastal cleanup not only tidies the beach, but also helps researchers understand what is happening on the coastlines. “We were given a worksheet to record what type of trash we picked up. They said it was for people to know what types of things are showing up on our coasts,” said Yoon. According to the organization, the “data goes into the Ocean Conservancy’s international database, which is used to identify the sources of trash and to help devise solutions to the marine debris problem.”
Members of Pepperdine’s new scuba club also participated at the Malibu pier last Saturday.