After more than a year of suspending in-person activities during the pandemic, tens of thousands of Californians turned out to take part in the 37th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, the state’s largest annual volunteer event organized by the California Coastal Commission. The workday was hosted on Saturday, Sept. 18.
Volunteers gathered hundreds of tons of trash at beaches, shorelines, and inland waterways, cleaning up at hundreds of locations in 55 of California’s 58 counties. Cleanups took place up and down the coast, from the Oregon to Mexico borders, and as far inland as Lake Tahoe. California’s event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by the Ocean Conservancy.
With resulted reported from half of the sites, the statewide count stands at 20,029 volunteers. Those volunteers picked up 153,281 pounds of trash and an additional 9,256 pounds of recyclable materials, for a total of 162,538 pounds or more than 81 tons.
“Californians cherish our coast, and they showed today that they were excited to get back there to help,” said Jack Ainsworth, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission. “This Coastal Cleanup Day was an important opportunity for us to make up for some of the time lost during this past year, and the citizens of California showed that they haven’t lost their passion for protecting our coast and ocean.”
The Coastal Commission continues to highlight the damage that trash, especially single-use disposable plastics, can cause to California’s wildlife, economy, and even human health. According to past cleanup data, about 75 percent of the trash removed was plastic, a material that never completely biodegrades and has numerous harmful environmental consequences. Plastic debris can kill wildlife, leach toxins into the environment, and even introduce them into the food chain. Since up to 80 percent of the trash on the California coast originates on land, volunteers across the state helped prevent enormous amounts of trash from ever reaching the ocean, no matter where they participated.
Most Unusual Items:
Every-day debris and plastic items weren’t the only things found on Coastal Cleanup Day. There were also many unusual items among the trash during this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day: a fart noise machine found in Bishop, stiletto heels and a Motel 6 key found in Ventura County, a gender reveal firework found in Mendocino County, and many more. But the winner of this year’s ‘Most Unusual Item’ contest was: Berkeley, where a full-size model of an alligator head was found.
In addition to organized cleanups, the Coastal Commission has continued its COVID-19 inspired push to encourage volunteers to run self-guided cleanups throughout neighborhoods across the state. The self-guided cleanups serve the same purpose as California Coastal Cleanup Day: to stop trash where it starts and prevent it from harming the environment and wildlife. During September, over 1,000 Californians have conducted a neighborhood cleanup, removing close to 6,000 pounds of trash during 362 cleanups. Cleanups recorded through the Clean Swell app during September will count toward Coastal Cleanup totals.
Coastal Cleanup Day could not happen without the support of public and corporate partners. Sponsors help to fund the event and often provide additional benefits. Lead sponsor Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water donated water for volunteers. Long-time sponsor Oracle provided volunteer support. Along with the 60+ non-profit and local government organizations that help organize and run the cleanups around the state, the program’s strong team of partners helped make the 2021 cleanup another huge success.
To stay involved with the cleanup efforts throughout the year, visit the “Join a Cleanup” page on the Coastal Commission’s website.
California Coastal Cleanup Day event is presented by the California Coastal Commission with lead sponsorship from Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water by CG Roxane. Additional support comes from Oracle, the Whale Tail Specialty License Plate, and the Protect our Coast and Oceans Fund.
California Coastal Cleanup Day 2021 was made possible by the hard work of hundreds of local non-profits and government agencies that organize events throughout the state and tens of thousands of volunteers annually. The event is also supported by the California State Parks Foundation and Ocean Conservancy.
The Commission is committed to protecting and enhancing California’s coast and ocean for present and future generations. It does so through careful planning and regulation of environmentally-sustainable development, strong public participation, education, and effective intergovernmental coordination. The Coastal Cleanup Day Program is part of its effort to raise public awareness of marine and coastal resources and promote coastal stewardship.