Tomorrow from nine in the morning until noon, in 50 locations across Orange County, nearly 7,000 volunteers are expected to participate in the 32nd annual Coastal Cleanup Day. According to Julia Williams, Orange County Coastkeeper’s cleanup director, roughly 40,000 pounds of trash is collected locally every year. Globally, 800,000 people go out to their local creeks, beaches and parks, and remove 18 million pounds of trash, making it the world’s largest trash cleanup event.
After this year’s cleanup, Orange County Coastkeeper is hosting the first ever Trash Free OC Jamboree after-party at Huntington State Beach, complete with food trucks and educational booths. The biggest one will be the Wyland classroom on wheels, where people can walk through a massive mobile learning room and mini-movie theater, and learn about watersheds and pollution. Kids will have the opportunity to look at plants under microscopes in the Wyland room, too.
Cool for us: Orange County annually lands in the top three American counties for Coastal Cleanup Day's largest volunteer turn out. “This is definitely something to be proud of,” says Williams. “We always aim to get more people to come out every year for clean up day, and for whatever reason, Orange County’s numbers almost always continue to grow.”
Coastal Cleanup Day dates back the mid '70s, when the Arcata Recycling Center in Northern California began running beach cleanups in search of recyclable material—although it should be noted that these cleanups hadn't yet adopted the title of “Coastal Cleanup Day.” It wasn't until 1985 that the California Coastal Commission organized the first official statewide Coastal Cleanup Day where data was tracked, like volunteer participation and the amount of trash collected. In 1993 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Coastal Cleanup Day as the largest garbage collection and volunteer participation event in the world.
“It’s crazy to think that with 7,000 volunteers across Orange County we can remove 40,000 pounds of trash in just one day,” says Williams. “Imagine if every single person in OC were to spend a couple of hours a week, a day or a couple days a year picking up trash—the impact would be huge. We want to inspire people to do stuff like this on their own, too.”
Every year, according to Williams, 18 million metric tons of plastic enters our oceans. Events like this engages people in environmental stewardship. “The most important thing is that we get the opportunity to open people’s eyes,” she says. “People go to the beach every day, but when you’re there tanning or hanging out with friends, you don’t usually notice the amount of trash and pollution that exists there around you.”
Coastal Cleanup Day, however, helps alleviate that problem. “So many people come out to our beach clean-up events and realize that the beach they’ve been going to their entire lives is loaded with trash,” says Williams. “Once you see all the trash, you can’t unsee it.”
The after party at Huntington State Beach will be across from life guard tower 9 and parking will be free until 2:30 pm for anyone going to the cleanup day fiesta. Find the trash pick up nearest you here! See you there!