By Juliana Gonzalez
Coastal Cleanup Day 2010 was a record-breaking event in the battle against ocean pollution. In Contra Costa County alone, more than 2,500 people, equipped with reusable buckets and endless enthusiasm, turned out at 35 creek and shoreline cleanup locations. Volunteers stopped over 17,000 pounds of trash from reaching the ocean– a heroic accomplishment. Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing your part to help care for our precious water resources.
The most common types of trash collected along shorelines were food wrappers, plastic bags, cigarette filters, Styrofoam pieces and straws. At the Albany site, a young Cub Scout returned from the shoreline with a bag full of little plastic pieces, and pledged to the site captain that she will never use a plastic straw again. Along creeks, dumping is more common and volunteers found large appliances, tires and all sorts of household items.
Many people at the event solidified their understanding of the connections between our daily actions, consumption patterns, and the amounts of trash we generate. And, that despite all our efforts at reducing waste, trash still find ways to end up in the ocean.
The Watershed Project’s Trash Compactors poster showed some simple things people can do to reduce their impact on the environment. For example, bringing your own coffee mug to the coffee shop or using a reusable water bottle. We encourage everyone to become a trash compactor every day of the year.
Another exciting part of this year’s cleanup was the addition of a kayak cleanup crew called the Flotsam Flotilla. These intrepid paddlers picked up over 600 pounds of trash from the Bay. As part of our two-pronged, land-water approach, Mary Crowley, Founder of Project Kaisei, showed the public some of the items recovered during research missions to the Plastic Vortex in the Pacific Ocean.
This year, The Watershed Project was also very successful in reducing the amount of debris created by the cleanup itself. We joined the Coastal Commission’s effort to promote a BYO (Bring Your Own) campaign designed to encourage volunteers to help decrease the ecological footprint of the cleanup. Volunteers brought their own bucket or reusable bag, gloves, and reusable water bottle. At the Albany site for instance, we had 20% of participants bring their own bucket and we had additional buckets to outfit 50% of the people that came to that site. At Shimada Friendship Park we only used one third as many bags as last year.
- 1,300 volunteers attended The Watershed Project-hosted sites and an additional 1,200 volunteers attended partner sites around the county
- 17,000 pounds of trash collected
- 35 sites around Contra Costa County
- Flotsam Flotilla picked up 600 pounds along the South Richmond Shoreline from their kayaks
- Press Conference with The Watershed Project, Supervisor John Gioia, Project Kaisei and the Blue Frontier
- Healthy BBQ lunch provided by Supervisor Gioia’s office
- Reduced the trash impact of the event by using buckets and dumpsters at most locations
Click here to see the results from the trash tallies at each shoreline and creek site
The Watershed Project would like to thank all the volunteers and organizations that helped make this event a success, especially The California Coastal Commission for 26 years of leadership in organizing this amazing event; County Supervisor John Gioia and his staff for providing a healthy lunch; the City of Albany and its staff for making the Albany Coastal Clean Up event a success; Contra Costa Public Works for printing our educational materials and providing hundreds of buckets; and, all the site captains that organized multiple events around the Contra Costa and Alameda counties including: East Bay Regional Parks, Earth Team Environmental Network, The Urban Creeks Council, EBMUD, Friends of Marsh Creek, Friends of Rodeo Creek, Alhambra Creeks Watershed Forum, City of Antioch, City of Pittsburg, and Los Medanos College.
We would also like to thank the volunteer coordinators that helped bring organized groups to the event including: Making Waves, San Francisco State Women’s Basketball Team, Kensington Cub Scouts, Berkeley High Environmental Club, University of Berkeley Geography Club, Chevron volunteer program, Los Medanos College Chemistry students, Prospect Sierra Middle School, Windrush Middle School, Helms Middle School, Stride Center, Student Conservation Association Alumni, Richmond Annex Neighborhood Council, Albany High Environmental Club, Berkeley Students CO-Ops, Middle College Environmental Club, YMCA of the East Bay , St Mary College High School, and San Ramon Valley High, among others.
Last but not least we would like to thank our local event sponsors starting with the Coastal Commission, NOAA, the Clif Bar Family Foundation, and local stores such as El Cerrito Natural Foods, Starbucks, Safeway, Costco, Whole Foods, Rialto Cinemas, Trader Joes, Albany Theatre, Five Little Monkeys, Noah’s Bagels, Toys Go Round, Transports, and Vara Healing Arts, Albany Bowl, the Grocery Outlet and New York Bagels.