Coastal Cleanup success!

Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday September 15, 2012:

At McNear’s Beach in San Rafael we had a great turnout for the largest volunteer event in California:  80 volunteers, breaking last year’s record of 55 by a wide margin!  Participants included Cub Scout pack 53, the Tam 4-H Club, whole families, and lots of other local folks who care about their beaches and Bay and the wildlife they are home to.

McNear’s is a popular and pretty well-cared-for beach and picnic area, but our dogged volunteers still managed to find 41 pounds of trash (about four large trash bags’ worth) and 6 pounds of recyclables.  When Ranger Jim showed up in his motorized cart with a 50-pound piece of dumped cyclone gate, the grand total came to 91 pounds!

Some of the more distinctive items among the 1790 individual bits collected:

– Eight-inch drill bit
– Easter egg
– Candle
– Nail file
– Cassette tape
– Plastic flower
– Ear bud

Shay Jensen on his way to clean the beach

The remaining litter tally:

408 food wrappers/containers
288 pieces of fishing line
212 plastic bags/pieces
135 cigarettes and filters
87 plastic eating utensils
75 caps or lids
58 paper bags/pieces
51 unidentifiable bits of plastic
49 glass beverage bottles/pieces
43 glass fragments
34 pieces of rope
27 plastic beverage bottles
27 metal beverage cans
27 pieces of polystyrene  foam
25 pull tabs
23 toys
22 pieces of paper
19 pieces of tissue
19 pieces of fishing net
17 balloons
17 straws and stirrers
16 pieces of plastic sheeting/tarp
15 pieces of wire
14 pieces of tape
13 items of clothing
11 strapping bands
10 cigar tips
7 shotgun shells/wadding
7 fishing lures/light sticks
7 pieces of building material
5 condoms
5 medical gloves
4 hair ties
4 pieces of fabric
3 combs
2 each of:
bait containers/packaging
tampons/tampon applicators
cigarette lighters
tobacco packaging/wrappers
dental floss
1 each of:
piece of medical gauze
garden pot
fishing hook

Whew! And let’s not forget the six pounds of recyclables we recovered, which will not end up in landfill.

It was striking how much less Styrofoam (a subset of plastic) was found compared to last year (580 pieces).  Could the increasing number of businesses switching to non-polystyrene food takeout containers be making a very real difference?

Thanks to Rangers Dan and Jim and their colleagues for helpfully supplying buckets and litter pickers, and the other ways they supported our efforts.  And a big thanks to all the volunteers who showed up with buckets, gloves, and their enthusiasm: you helped beautify McNear’s and make it safer for wildlife, while contributing to citizen science.  We salute you!


This entry was posted in Rethinking Plastics News and tagged , , on by .

About Stuart Moody

Stuart Moody is Board President of Green Sangha. He received a B.S. in Conservation of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley, and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology at USF. Stuart was Green Schoolyard Coordinator at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael and directs Green Sangha’s Rethinking Plastics campaign. From 1993 to 2012, Stuart taught dance and co-directed teacher training for Young Imaginations, an arts education agency based in San Rafael. He has taught yoga and meditation to thousands in the Bay Area, including 10 years at San Quentin State Prison. Recently moved to Tucson, he just completed a graduate certificate program in “Connecting Environmental Science and Decision Making” at the University of Arizona.