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Pick it Up
Valérie Dufort-Roy | Klish Way

It has been tough keeping up with eco-friendly practices during the pandemic. Our reliance on online shopping skyrocketed with all the packaging it generates, reusable bags are disallowed in many stores, bulk bins have been shuttered, and asking restaurants to use self-supplied takeout containers is unthinkable. How to pursue the commitment to better the environment in the midst of a pandemic where disposable masks, gloves and chemicals are widely used to prevent the spread of the virus? While we wait for better days, why not clean up our beaches?

Researchers estimate the number of pieces of plastic in the oceans at 5.25 trillion. Just last weekend, strolling the one-mile stretch across Powerhouse Park, my family saw a birthday balloon, soda can, juice box, bottle caps, and discarded toys.

Local beach cleanups are regularly organized by several organizations, such as San Diego Coastkeeper and The Surfrider Foundation (San Diego Chapter). Aside from removing trash from our beaches, the cleanups raise public awareness, encourage everyone to take action, contribute to research, and influence legislation. Of course, anyone can pick up papers or cigarette butts when visiting the beach, as it is part of basic civic duty. When volunteers take the time to sort the trash they find, they contribute to scientific knowledge about what types of debris end up on our beaches and allow for the legislative process to be better informed.

The Surfrider Foundation data shows that since 2017, 134,066 volunteers picked up 858,512 pounds of trash and recyclables through 2,659 formal cleanup events across the Nation’s coasts. The most common items collected are plastic fragments, pieces of foam, cigarette butts, food wrappers, bottle caps, and rings.

As of now, while public cleanup events have been paused, solo cleanups are a great option! Considering that many will “staycation” in San Diego, why not enhance our beach experience by removing trash? The Surfrider Foundation recommends to plan your activity when there is no crowd (early morning or evening), wear gloves, mask, have sanitizer at hand, two large buckets to separate trash from recyclables and a log to record your finds. Once you get back home, simply register online and input your finds, before discarding in trash or recycling. This is a free, educative and fun family activity for all, and most important, an activity that makes a difference to our environment.

 

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