By Paula White
Last year when I was writing The Watershed Project’s annual Coastal Cleanup Day invitation, I thought for sure we’d be “back to normal” by now. Then the delta variant came, and well, you know the rest. Luckily, we have better tools and more information about how to protect ourselves from COVID-19 than we did last year. First and most importantly, we know that outdoor events are relatively safe, especially for vaccinated people. And that’s what has always been so great about Coastal Cleanup Day–it’s a chance to be outside, doing something good for the planet and ourselves along with thousands of others across the globe.
We are very excited to be hosting an event at Shimada Friendship Park again this year. There are a couple of new twists. To avoid crowding, we ask that everyone pre-register for the event and choose one of three time slots: 9:00 am, 9:20 am and 9:40 am. To save time while checking in, please download, print, sign, and bring the signed waiver to the event. Don’t miss our most unusual item contest and find the hidden treasure in one of the trash hot spots!
Many other organizations and cities are hosting Coastal Cleanup Day events in Contra Costa County as shown on the map below. Hover over the site for details on how to register. We encourage everyone to contact the site organizer for details as many sites have limited availability. Everyone is also welcome to participate in a self-organized DIY cleanup. Last year in Contra Costa County nearly 400 volunteers cleaned over 26 miles, picking up over 4,000 pounds of trash! If you are planning to do a cleanup with friends and family, keep in mind these tips:
- Wear gloves and use a trash picker or metal tongs to pick up objects. Have a mask in your pocket just in case. Review this safety guide before getting started.
- Pick up only as much trash as will fit in your trash can, and plan to bring your trash back home
- Work with a team: tally what you pick up using the Clean Swell app or a tally card
- Enter The Watershed Project under group name in the Clean Swell app
- Share your weird finds! Post photos to #MostUnusualItem
Coastal Cleanup Day isn’t just about cleaning up–it’s about documenting which pollutants are in the environment so we can advocate for change. Here are some of the environmental victories we’ve won through Coastal Cleanup Day data:
- Plastic bag bans worldwide, including throughout the state of California
- Bans on styrofoam food and beverage containers in many California cities and counties
- Information on plastic items most harmful to wildlife has led to better product design, i.e. six pack rings
- San Francisco used Coastal Cleanup Day data on cigarette butts to pass a tax on tobacco companies
There is still a lot of work to be done. Let’s put pressure on producers of plastic waste to use more sustainable packaging such as aluminum cans and compostable products. Let’s advocate for reusable containers, removing plastic from the environment and putting money into local economies. Even if you don’t attend a cleanup, you can use the power of social media to call out major corporate brands for their polluting products. Tell the world about the #GrossPolluters that are trashing your community, and be sure to tag the companies that make all this trash.
We hope you will join us for Coastal Cleanup Day 2021!