On Earth Day, our club MKHS Heal the Bay, along with other volunteers, set off to clean Santa Monica Beach. We arrived twenty minutes before the clean up began and lined up to get registered. After registering, we met with one of the Heal the Bay members to discuss safety and ground rules for the cleanup.
Once all of us had gloves, buckets and the checklist to keep track of the different types of items we would find, we were ready to go. The seven of us set out into two groups to start collecting the trash. Within the first 10 minutes, we were able to collect a few pieces of plastic as well as some bits of glass. We had even found a few zippers lying around the sand. While walking, we collected shredded pieces of styrofoam and some bottle caps. Eventually, we encountered one of the storm drains that the members had discussed about before. While the water was not high enough to connect to the drain water, it did form a small pond full of dirty water. When taking a closer look, we could find a lot of plastics, glass, and other pieces of trash lying around. We were able to collect them before heading back. Every piece of plastic, glass, or trash we found, we marked it down on the checklist. By the time we got back to starting point, we found over 50 pieces of plastics and at least 3 pieces of glass as well as a significant amount of miscellaneous materials. The other group’s data was similar to what we found. After handing the checklists over, we sorted the different materials and recyclables.
Once in a while, we took a break while walking along the shoreline. Because we were wearing closed-toe shoes to protect our feet, we had to occasionally dart away from incoming waves to avoid getting them wet. Not only was it relaxing during the small break, but it also allowed us to appreciate the scenery as well.
Considering the sizes of the items we found, it was quite difficult trying to pick them up with the cloth gloves. Luckily, our members brought in regular vinyl gloves to pick up the smaller bits. Plus, some of them had even brought their own plastic grabbers to reach for the more difficult items.
While crouching near the ground to search for clutter lying around was not the best experience, the end result of being able to even collect small amount of trash from the environment made it worth it. Being able to spend a nice day out on the beach doing and helping clean up the environment leaves a good feeling.