Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.

Coastal Cleanup Day Volunteers

Coastal Cleanup Day Volunteers

A fun family competition lead to this group of dedicated volunteers picking up 664 cigarette butts. Wow!

 

 

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

Sandspit cleanup

The Estuary Program has partnered with ECOSLO for many years to lead a cleanup on the Morro Bay sandspit.

This hard-working and adventurous group of volunteers covered four miles of Morro Bay's sandspit, picking up trash as they went.

This hard-working and adventurous group of volunteers covered four miles of Morro Bay’s sandspit, picking up trash as they went. Photo Courtesy of Michael “Mike” L. Baird. bairdphotos.com.

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.

Sylvia, a Snowy Plover Monitor with California State Parks, shares tips for avoiding plover nesting areas on the sandspit.

Sylvia, a Snowy Plover Monitor with California State Parks, shares tips for avoiding plover nesting areas on the sandspit.

Next, the cleanup crew caught a ride over to the sandspit aboard Captain Stew’s Bay Cruiser, generously donated by Captain Stew himself.

We are grateful to Captain Stew for donating a ride over to the sandspit for our volunteer crew for the second year in a row. Thanks, Captain Stew! Photo Courtesy of Michael "Mike" L. Baird. bairdphotos.com.

We are grateful to Captain Stew for donating a ride over to the sandspit for our volunteer crew for the second year in a row. Thanks, Captain Stew! Photo Courtesy of Michael “Mike” L. Baird. bairdphotos.com.

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.

Longtime Coastal Cleanup Day volunteer Jim and his friend Joy participated in this year's efforts. Thanks, Jim and Joy!

Longtime Coastal Cleanup Day volunteer Jim and his friend Joy participated in this year’s efforts and picked up this treated wood from the jetty. Thanks, Jim and Joy! Photo courtesy of Michael “Mike” L. Baird. bairdphotos.com.

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.

Multi-year coastal cleanup day volunteer Charlotte holds up one of the strange items collected by the group for everyone to see. The prize for the weirdest item collected was an Estuary Octopus mug. Photograph courtesy of Michael "Mike" L. Baird. bairdphotos.com

Multi-year coastal cleanup day volunteer Charlotte holds up one of the strange items collected by the group for everyone to see. The prize for the weirdest item collected was an Estuary Octopus mug. Photograph courtesy of Michael “Mike” L. Baird. bairdphotos.com

 

Embarcadero cleanup

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.

Everett expertly freed cans, bottles, and other trash from this stormdrain. Without his help, they undoubtedly would have ended up in the bay during the first storm of the year. Thanks, Everett!

This industrious volunteer expertly freed cans, bottles, and other trash from this stormdrain. Without his help, this trash undoubtedly would have ended up in the bay during the first storm of the year. Thank you!

Many participants came in family groups and made a fun Saturday morning out of volunteering together.

A fun family competition lead to this group of dedicated volunteers picking up 664 cigarette butts. Wow!

A fun family competition spurred this group of dedicated volunteers to pick up 664 cigarette butts. Wow! Thank you!

This father and son duo picked up trash for the full three-hours of the cleanup. They worked together to pick up a lot of bottles, cans, and other food-packing waste. Thank you!

This father and son duo picked up trash for the full three-hours of the cleanup. They worked together to pick up a lot of bottles, cans, food wrappers, and other waste. Thank you!

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.

Volunteer Kay and her son participate in Coastal Cleanup Day every year. They focused on Tidelands Park and found this keyless keyboard, a plastic dog bone, and other strange items. Thank you!

Volunteer Kay and her son participate in Coastal Cleanup Day every year. They focused on Tidelands Park and found 94 cigarette butts, this keyless keyboard, a plastic dog bone, and other strange items. Thank you!

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.

This photograph shows a collection of tiny trash pieces. They may be small, but removing them from the environment can have a big positive impact.

This photograph shows a collection of tiny trash pieces. They may be small, but keeping them off the ground and out of the water is a big win for wildlife, water quality, and people alike.

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.

This infographic, courtesy of ECOSLO, shows the top five items collected across all 36 sites in SLO County during Coastal Cleanup Day.

This infographic, courtesy of ECOSLO, shows the top five items collected across all 36 sites in SLO County during Coastal Cleanup Day.

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.


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