On Saturday, September 21, 2013, The 29th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day took place from 9am-Noon. This life affirming, sustainable event has proved to play an important role in helping remove trash and debris, which can be harmful to humans and even fatal to marine wildlife, from California’s coastal waterways.
For the event, in a span of three short hours, residents scoured California waterways at over 850 sites in 53 of California’s 58 counties gathering hundreds of tons of trash in the state’s largest volunteer event.
“I think it speaks volumes about our community that 900 volunteers came out to one of the five coastal sites to protect our environment and sea life,” said City of Ventura Volunteer Coordinator, Rosie Ornelas. “Ventura volunteers made up 32% of all the volunteers County-wide. From groups of scouts and school groups, to corporate groups and families with small children, we are so fortunate to live in a community that truly cares!”
In Ventura County, the preliminary results indicate that 2,846 volunteers picked up 8,462 pounds of trash along 39.6 miles of coastline, of which 1,339 pounds were recyclable.
“The Coastal Commission reported,” continued Ornelas, “that some of the more unusual items that were picked up off the shore included a 1904 typewriter, a ‘no dumping’ sign, a piece of a boat, a table lamp, a 3-piece sectional sofa, suitcases, sneakers, and a sleeping bag, among other items.” Locally, one young man found a bottle with a one-dollar bill in it.
Across California, the preliminary results included over 51,000 volunteers removing approximately 471,218 pounds of debris and an additional 30,530 pounds of recyclable materials for a total of 501,748 pounds or 251 tons. These figures represent 70% of the cleanup sites reporting and will continue to rise as data is collected from site captains throughout the state.
While most of the debris on the California coasts have been tracked to come from the ‘usual sources’, this year volunteers at many sites carried a data card that was designed by the Coastal Commission with assistance from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, to track potential tsunami debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan.
In an effort to reduce the environmental footprint of the cleanup, the Coastal Commission encourages volunteers to bring their own reusable bags or buckets and gloves to the event. As a result, this year, the Commission was able to order almost 50,000 fewer trash bags for the event than in 2011.
“Data from past cleanups indicate that between 60-80% of the debris collected originates in-land and travels through our untreated stormdrain system into our waterways,” said Ornelas. “Enough can’t be said about every individual making a difference by disposing of trash, debris, yard clippings, pet waste, fertilizers, and other items properly so that they don’t wind up as a potential health hazard on our coastlines and waterways.”
COASTWEEKS, a three-week celebration of our coastal resources takes place across the United States. For a calendar of events, to get involved and/or to find out how you can become a Coastal Steward throughout the year, visit: www.coast4u.org.