Heal the Bay Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers in Los Angeles County Saturday, September 20th, collected their cumulative one-millionth pound of ocean-bound debris since 1990’s inaugural event.
Some 12,262 community members scoured beaches, parks, alleys, creeks, highways and storm drains from 9 a.m. to noon at 71 sites throughout the county.
City crews, families, local businesses, faith-based organizations, schools and youth sports teams removed 181,000 pounds of debris and recyclables from Los Angeles County watersheds, Heal the Bay reports.
Urban runoff from more than 200 storm drains flowing out to Santa Monica and San Pedro bays causes the vast majority of local ocean pollution.
By removing tons of debris from beaches and inland neighborhoods, cleanup participants enhance quality of life, protect marine animals and bolster the re- gional economy, says a Heal the Bay spokesman.
This year’s haul more than doubled last year’s total of 73,722 pounds of debris.
The increased total is due to more aggressive public works efforts coordinated in concert with Coastal Cleanup Day to clear bulky, heavy items from alleyways and street corners.
Heal the Bay’s Coastal Cleanup Day campaigns have captured a cumulative 1.17 million pounds of trash since 1990.
“The value of bringing communities together for the common goal of bettering the environment is greater than the cleanups themselves,” said Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay. “It’s extremely gratifying to see thousands of people learn through volunteering how they can clean up environmental blight in neighborhoods, waterways and on the beach throughout the year.”
Cigarette butts and Styrofoam fragments are the most frequently found items at cleanups.
For example, volunteers at Echo Park collected and counted 5,017 cigarette butts, totaling some five pounds of harmful waste.
Sites covered the entire county this year, from Tujunga to Long Beach, Compton to Malibu.
Scuba dive teams canvassed the Santa Monica and Redondo Beach piers, while a flotilla of kayakers removed trash from Marina del Rey.
Among the unusual items found this year were a home pregnancy test with a negative reading on Venice Beach, a plastic bag filled with chicken parts and images of the Virgin of Guadalupe at Ken Malloy Park, washing machine parts, shotgun shells and a submerged Razor scooter.
“Each year, the Los Angeles County Flood Control District captures more than 300 tons of trash before it flows out into the ocean,” said Mark Pestrella, assistant deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, one of the event’s main sponsors. “Yet, these efforts alone are not enough to keep our beaches or waterways free of litter and other pollutants. So we applaud the efforts of the thousands of who are making a difference.”