Cleaning up California's coast

September 25, 2003

Jenny Marder

It rivaled a garage sale. Objects found at Surf City beaches during

the state's biggest annual beach cleanup event included a dreidel, a

television, a lawn chair and a sheet of aluminum fencing.

Nearly 500 volunteers scoured Surf City shorelines for trash on

Saturday as part of the California Coastal Commission's 19th annual

Coastal Cleanup Day. At Huntington State Beach and Huntington City


Beach combined, 3,005 pounds of trash and 200 pounds of recyclables

were collected, said Eben Schwartz, the event's statewide


This is among hundreds of tons of trash and debris collected by

tens of thousands of Californians at 650 sites statewide.

Stephanie Barger, executive director of the Earth Resource

Foundation, a Costa-Mesa based environmental activist group that

hosted a cleanup at the Talbert Marsh and Santa Ana River Jetties,

said that this year's Coastal Cleanup Day attracted a more diverse

group of volunteers than it has in years past. Roughly 200 people

gathered 200 trash bags at the Talbert Marsh and the river jetties


"We're getting more diversity in ages, ethnicity and a mixture of

people coming from different communities," Barger said.

The primary objective is to strip beaches, shorelines and inland

locations of the cigarette butts, bits of Styrofoam, beer cans and

other trash.

Other goals of the cleanup were determining where the trash is

coming from and educating participants about the problem.

"This society has become numb to the amount of trash that we

have," Barger said. "People have become numb to it. Every year, we

get new and different people to the cleanup, and they become educated

so then they can go home and change their ways."

At more than 40,000 statewide volunteers, Coastal Cleanup Day drew

the same number of volunteers as it did last year but collected less

trash. Eben Schwartz, the event's statewide coordinator, considers

this a good sign.

"Hopefully, that's a signal that our educational efforts are

working," Schwartz said.

The next Coastal Cleanup Day will be Saturday, Sept. 18, 2004.

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