Thousands of volunteers participated in local Coastal Cleanup Day events
Coastal Cleanup Day calls family and friends together to tend to the health of California’s coast by picking up trash and recycling. For the past fourteen years, local nonprofit ECOSLO has organized the cleanup efforts countywide. This year, 1,312 volunteers picked up 5,688 pounds of trash and recycling from 36 cleanup sites. Ten of those sites were located inland. This might seem odd, but trash left on the ground storm drains that are miles from the beach run into creeks that empty directly into bays or the open ocean. Picking it up before it even enters the water reduces the impact it has on wildlife and the environment.
Estuary Program leads two cleanup sites
The Estuary Program has partnered with ECOSLO for many years to lead a cleanup on the Morro Bay sandspit.
The sandspit cleanup crew gathered early to learn about snowy plovers, threatened shorebirds that nest in the sandspit’s dunes, from State Parks Plover Monitor Sylvia. She shared tips to help volunteers to avoid disturbing these endangered birds and their delicate nests while searching for trash.
Next, the cleanup crew caught a ride over to the sandspit aboard Captain Stew’s Bay Cruiser, generously donated by Captain Stew himself.
They disembarked on the sandspit, gathered data sheets and other supplies, and spread out to cover as much ground as they could. Volunteers picked up a wide range of trash, from tiny bits of plastic mixed into the sand, to large lengths of pressure-treated wood wedged into rocks of the jetty.
Two of the strangest items collected by this group were full bottles of mustard and ketchup. In total, they removed 32 pounds of trash from the sandspit.
This year, the Estuary Program led an additional cleanup site based at Centennial Parkway on Morro Bay’s Embarcadero. Volunteers walked the length of the Embarcadero, searching for trash. They poked litter getters into storm drains, pulled food wrappers out flower beds, sifted micro trash and cigarette butts from roadside sand, and recaptured trash that had been loosed from the can by marauding seagulls and afternoon winds.
Many participants came in family groups and made a fun Saturday morning out of volunteering together.
Volunteers found a variety of strange items at this site, including a laptop keyboard without keys, a plastic dog bone, a large plastic palm tree leaf, and rubber stamps with family crest designs.
Our volunteers’ collective haul at the Embarcadero weighed only 11 pounds, but the postive impact of removing that trash was big. Volunteers’ bags were full of lightweight items like empty bottles, a lot of tiny trash (bits of plastic, foam, and glass), and 888 cigarette butts.
Small trash is a big problem
The team at ECOSLO compiled all of the cleanup data from San Luis Obispo County and noted the most-frequently collected items.
Following just after these top five, came metal bottle caps, styrofoam pieces, plastic bottles, straws and stirrers, and glass bottles. Volunteers collected more than 1,000 of each of these items across the 36 sites.
Had they been left on the ground, every one of these small bits of trash could have caused harm to wildlife and water quality. Thanks to the 1,312 volunteers who helped out locally, they won’t.
Thank you, volunteers!
Sharing your time to help care for the coast makes a big difference. If you want to participate in more cleanups:
- Check out ECOSLO’s monthly Beach Keeper Cleanup series! Their next event will be held on October 6.
- Fill out the Estuary Program’s volunteer interest form and check the Coastal Cleanup Day option to be notified of future cleanup opportunities. We host an annual paddleboard cleanup around Earth Day and a coastline cleanup after the 4th of July.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog miniseries about the environmental impacts of common litter items.
Help us protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary
- Donate to the Estuary Program today and support our work in the field, the lab, and beyond.
The Estuary Program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. We depend on funding from grants and generous donors to continue our work.
- Support us by purchasing estuary-themed gear from ESTERO. This locally owned and operated company donates 20% of proceeds from its Estuary clothing line and 100% of Estuary decal proceeds to the Estuary Program. Thank you, ESTERO!
- Purchase items from the the Estuary Program’s store on Zazzle. Zazzle prints and ships your items, and the Estuary Program receives 10% of the proceeds. Choose from mugs, hats, t-shirts, and even fanny packs (they’re back!) with our fun Estuary Octopus design, our classic Estuary Program logo, or our Mutts for the Bay logo.