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Official results released for Coastal Cleanup’s month-long effort

More than 13,000 volunteers throughout the state took to their neighborhoods, local parks, creeks and beaches as part of this year’s California Coastal Cleanup, according to official results released on Friday, Oct. 23.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the cleanup effort this year spanned the entire month of September, instead of the usual one day campaign involving a large army of volunteers. An estimated 130,000 pounds was removed, based on information submitted from volunteers throughout the state.

The new figures released show nearly double the amount of trash was collected than what organizers reported earlier this month with preliminary results. 

“Volunteers reported being concerned about pandemic-related trash in their neighborhoods and beyond, and recognized that trash in California can flow easily through stormwater systems to reach the coast and ocean once the rains begin, so cleaning neighborhoods and inland areas is one way of preventing trash from polluting the coast,” California Coastal Cleanup organizers said in a summary of the effort.

While this year’s turn out was less than previous years – last year for example had 75,000 volunteers throughout the state who cleared out upwards of 900,000 pounds of debris – organizers said they are glad they were able to put a dent in the trash that had  accumulated before the rainy season.

While this year’s Coastal Cleanup couldn’t bring volunteers together as in years past, as seen in a photo from 2019, volunteers still came out to help throughout the month in their own neighborhoods, parks and beaches. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

Data collected by volunteers showed the impact of the pandemic on the environment, with reports from more than 3,000 cleanup sites including plenty of to-go food and beverage packaging.

The number of plastic grocery bags picked up, which had been falling steadily since 2010, saw an uptick this year and was the sixth most commonly found item, “an indication that the pandemic and the state’s temporary pause on the statewide plastic bag ban had a significant impact on our environment,” the report said.

Personal protective equipment, or PPEs, also made the list, with volunteers throughout the state removing more than 6,000 disposable gloves and masks during their cleanups, items that had previously not been reported in significant numbers.

“California was awash in single-use disposable plastics even before COVID-19 hit,” said Eben Schwartz, marine debris program manager with the California Coastal Commission. “The data we gathered really helps tell the story of what has been happening to our state since this began, and the increases in plastic bag litter and PPE are part of that story. I’m proud and grateful that so many Californians answered the call to help clean up before that trash had a chance to become ocean pollution.”


Source: Orange County Register

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