What does not belong in our oceans? Bowling balls, rubber ducks, shopping carts, barbecues, plastic dinosaurs, light bulbs, wigs, lawn mowers and money — yet all the aforementioned were recovered on International Coastal Cleanup Day 2014. Also included among the trash collected on that one day were these top 10 items: 2,248,065 cigarette butts, 1,376,133 food wrappers, 988,965 beverage bottles, 811,871 plastic bottle caps, 519,911 straws/stirrers, 489,968 other plastic bags, 485,204 grocery bags, 396,121 glass beverage bottles, 382,608 beverage cans and 376,479 cups and plates. The Ocean Conservancy, who organizes International Coastal Cleanup Day, also reports that on that day in 2014 an “astounding 560,000 volunteers in 91 countries” participated in the cleanup.
This Saturday morning, 9 to 11 a.m., the Pacifica Beach Coalition invites everyone to participate in California’s largest volunteer event, California Coastal Cleanup Day. The event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day. Since 1998, the Pacifica Beach Coalition (PBC), a project of Pacifica’s Environmental Family, has hosted and coordinated the local CCCD event. The PBC cleanup will be followed by a celebration, 11 a.m. to noon, held at Sharp Park Beach. The celebration includes a cigarette container dedication ceremony at 11:30 a.m.
“This is a cleanup that counts,” said Lynn Adams, president of the PBC. “Volunteers work in teams of two or more to clean an area and to tabulate the items collected. Throughout the years, this collected data has given us the information needed to bring about Styrofoam and plastic bag bans.”
The PBC, www.pacificabeachcoalition.org, offers all kinds of information on their website for the upcoming event. Site cleanups include: Mussel Rock, Esplanade Beach, Sharp Park Beach, Rockaway Beach, Linda Mar State Beach, Pillar Point Harbor (Half Moon Bay), Tunitas Creek (Half Moon Bay), San Pedro Creek by the Pedro Point Shopping Center and San Pedro Creek at Old San Pedro Terrace Road.
The PBC also takes volunteers to numerous places where debris can be caught by wind or storm drains and taken out to sea. These sites include: Pacific Manor Safeway, Oceana High School, Lakeside Way, West Sharp Park streets, Roberts Road, the Pacifica Community Center and Skatepark, the Sanchez Library, Park Mall, Linda Mar Park and Ride.
“You can also register (online) to choose your own site,” Adams said.
Additionally two habitat restoration projects are planned. One is at Linda Mar State Beach. Volunteers meet at the Community Center and walk to the beach. The second takes place on Sunday, September 20, at the Pedro Point Headlands. Volunteers meet at 9:45 a.m. at the Pedro Point Firehouse.
“Since 2005, 9,277 volunteers in Pacifica have removed 36,270 pounds of trash and recycles on Coastal Cleanup Day,” Adams said.
Adams noted that cigarette filters, which contain toxic chemicals, constantly top the list as the most collected local debris. Food wrappers come in second.
“The number of plastic bags collected has decreased in recent years due to the plastic bag ban,” Adams said. “And in 2012, we found only one 6-pack ring. That is thanks to legislation and education about their harms to wildlife.”
Adams would like to see more government education and outreach on the damage cigarette butts cause. She would also like to see more public awareness on balloons.
“One year we found 219 balloons in Pacifica on CCCD,” Adams said. “Balloons pop in the air and wherever they fall, earth or water, their strings, clips, and the balloon itself can cause death from entanglement or ingestion.”
“Every piece of trash not littered and every piece of trash picked up can save a life,” Adams said. “We invite everyone to join us in cleaning up our city before the winter rains arrive and wash it all into the ocean. It is a simple thing we can do to help the earth and to really help ourselves.”
California Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 19, 9 to 11:00 a.m. Visit www.pacificabeachcoalition.org for information and to register. Following the cleanup, there is a celebration at Sharp Park Beach (meet by picnic tables) from 11 a.m. to noon. There will be cake, raffle prizes, a cigarette container dedication, ukulele accompaniment, It’s-It Ice Cream Sandwiches courtesy of the Pacifica Library and seed-ball making. The seed balls are made from native seeds and clay and scattered where plant life is needed. Exposure to sun and rain will slowly break down the seed ball, allowing the seeds to germinate and grow.