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Coastal Cleanup events organized to remove trash from local beaches and waterways

California Coastal Cleanup Day is Saturday, September 18, and thousands of volunteers are expected to participate by heading to local beaches and creeks to pick up trash. Activities on the Central Coast will continue throughout the month. 

The California Coastal Commission says 1.6 million volunteers have removed over 26 million pounds of trash from the state’s beaches since California Coastal Cleanup Day officially started in 1985.

“People really turn out and make a stand for clean beaches. We picked up, in 2019, over 6,000 pounds of trash,” said Jill Cloutier with Explore Ecology.

Explore Ecology in Santa Barbara County is organizing cleanup crews at 28 sites from Carpinteria to Guadalupe for Saturday’s event. Pre-registration is encouraged, but Cloutier said it’s okay to simply show up from 9am-12pm, bring a mask for check-in, and supplies, if possible.

“We encourage people to bring their own materials because it cuts down on the plastic footprint of the event, but every site has plenty of cleanup materials, so if you don’t have a bucket or gloves, don’t let that stop you,” Cloutier said.

If you can’t make it to the beach, you can still participate by picking up trash in your own neighborhood.

“Wherever there’s trash on the ground, even if you’re miles away from a waterway, when it rains or on a windy day that trash will tend to travel down a storm drain head into a creek or a river or the ocean,” Cloutier said.

Due to uncertainty around the pandemic, ECOSLO in San Luis Obispo County is asking volunteers to remove trash from creeks, parks, and beaches on their own time during the next two weeks. Executive Director Mary Ciesinski said they are distributing Cleanup Kits to volunteers who sign up online.

“Kits include basic clean up supplies – which is bags and gloves. The Cleanup Kits are set up for a group of five, but if there’s more in your group or you want more kits, just let us know on the form,” Ciesinski said.

The amount of litter collected individually can be counted toward the Coastal Cleanup grand total if entered into the database.

“The app that volunteers can download is called Clean Swell. It is run by the international non-profit Ocean Conservancy,” Ciesinski said.

For more information about local Coastal Cleanup activities, go to Explore Ecology or ECOSLO

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, and has contributed to KQED's statewide radio show The California Report.
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