SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Heal the Bay is calling for volunteers to join its 32nd Annual Coastal Cleanup Day event. It plans at least 30 cleanup and restoration events across Southern California on Sept. 18.
For people who can’t join events this weekend, Heal the Bay is also providing resources for their own neighborhood cleanup efforts.
The event is the organization’s crown jewel in the Coastal Cleanup Month; during last year’s all-virtual effort, Heal the Bay’s volunteers removed 40,101 pieces of trash from open spaces around Los Angeles.
This time around, organizers hope to remove at least 50,000 pieces of trash from around Los Angeles, with a month-long cleanup “hybrid model.”
“It’s a huge undertaking, but it is timely, and it makes sense with where we are in the pandemic so far,” said Kayleigh Wade, Heal the Bay’s associate director of campaigns and outreach. This year, alongside the dozens of cleanups taking place around the county, Heal the Bay is also running virtual programming: webinars, workshops, interviews on Instagram Live, and do-it-yourself cleanup instructions.
The key is ensuring that Angelenos understand that they’re not just living in the ecosystem, but that they’re responsible for the health of their coastline, their rivers, and their neighborhoods.
“We feel that stewardship is very important, and oftentimes people view this work as not connected to humans — but we’re all connected through the watersheds in LA County, and LA County is a biodiversity hotspot,” Wade said. “It’s powerful for people to get up and decide on their Saturday morning that I’m going to clean up the LA River, or clean up this canyon, or clean up these beaches.”
Volunteers are being asked to bring their own buckets, reusable bags, and reusable gloves to pick up trash. Durable, reusable personal protective equipment might be preferred: Heal the Bay found single-use PPE was the most common type of garbage picked up by its volunteers in 2020.
“It’s unfortunate that there’s been a spike in trash and PPE: it’s gloves, it’s masks, it’s takeout containers, things that are very clearly tied to how our lives have changed since the pandemic has begun,” Wade said. “I know as much as the next person how easy it is to drop a mask, but it’s also easy to pick it back up.”
Though Heal the Bay believes that its volunteers have removed more than 4 million pieces of trash from LA County beaches, it acknowledges that these cleanups are a last-resort — approximately 8 million tons of plastic being dumped into oceans globally each year. The goal is to stop trash from ending up on beaches and in communities in the first place.
For more information or to sign up for a cleanup near you, visit: healthebay.org/coastalcleanupmonth.