Tag Archives: Volunteer

Coastal Clean-up Day

Mark you calendar for the nation’s most popular volunteer environmental event of the year!  Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, Sep 15, 9 am to noon.

Join Green Sangha members at one of two sites:  1) Damon Slough at the Oakland Coliseum, 2) McNear’s Beach in San Rafael (our 9th year!).   You may also go to any of scores of spots in the Bay Area (check the Coastal Commission’s web page here, and click on their link for “local coordinator” to find a site near you).

Wear sturdy, close-toed shoes, layers for changeable weather, a hat and other sun protection as needed.  Bring also a water bottle (reusable, of course), gloves, and a bucket if you have one.  The Coastal Commission is making a big push for zero waste at the clean-up, in response to many participants’ comments about throw-away plastic bags (replete with corporate sponsors’ names) being used in the past.

Last year at McNear’s Beach, we broke some records:

  1. We topped our ’08 & ’10 highs of 52 volunteers, with a total of 55 individuals participating.
  2. Volunteers collected more fishing line than ever before: 183 Pieces. Ugh!
  3. Biggest number:  Volunteers picked up 937 individual pieces of plastic (not counting whole items such as bottles or pipes). Double ugh!

The top item, though, was Styrofoam (a subset of plastic pieces):  580 bits.  If you have ever tried recovering littered foam, you know how easily these pieces break apart.

In 3 short hours, 55 volunteers recovered a total of 2511 pieces, ranging in size from large (a car tire, fishing nets, crates) to miniscule (Styrofoam bits, cigarette butts). There’s no way to know for sure the long-term impact of each piece of litter.  Some types (fishing nets, for example) appear far more hazardous to wildlife and boats than others.  But we might estimate an average cost of one animal’s life per piece of litter. If so, we saved 2511 animals’ lives on that sunny morning.

Here’s a special shout-out to Bernard, Maeve, and Sita, who combed the shore for those hundreds of plastic pieces; to Ishon and friends, who retrieved a long fishing net (and a balloon from a tree); to the Girl Scouts, 4-H Club, and everyone else who brought their gloves, buckets, and smiles.

McNear’s Beach litter tally, Sep 17, 2011

  • 580 Styrofoam bits
  • 357 plastic bags
  • 236 food wrappers/containers
  • 219 glass bits
  • 193 miscellaneous plastic bits
  • 183 fishing lines
  • 122 glass bottles
  • 116 cigarettes/filters
  • 92 caps, lids
  • 78 paper bags
  • 48 plastic beverage bottles
  • 47 foodware items (e.g., plastic forks)
  • 45 building materials
  • 42 paper/cardboard pieces
  • 32 beverage cans
  • 29 cigar tips
  • 24 clothing/shoes
  • 19 nets
  • 17 balloons
  • 16 pull tabs
  • 15 straws/stirrers
  • 15 toys
  • 11 rope
  • 8 each:
  • shotgun shells, wadding
  • tobacco packaging
  • fishing lures
  • traps (fish, crab, lobster)
  • 2 each:
  • batteries
  • crates
  • cigarette lighters
  • diapers
  • painted pictures
  • bait containers
  • 1 each:
  • bleach bottle
  • bee trap
  • tire
  • car part
  • syringe
  • feminine napkin
  • plastic glove
  • band-aid
  • comb