Notes from the Field: Thanks for Cleaning Up the Bay on Coastal Cleanup Day

Coastal Cleanup Day 2012
Thanks to all of our volunteers! Photo: Vivian Reed

A big thanks to all of those who participated in cleaning up the San Francisco Bay as part of California Coastal Cleanup Day!  Save The Bay was one of many organizations that spent the day cleaning up our local waterways. We held cleanups in two places that are in desperate need of some care and attention: the Guadalupe River in San Jose and Damon Creek in Oakland. Check out our Bay Trash Hot Spots website to vote on which local waterway we should cleanup next!

Here are the stats from Coastal Cleanup Day:

Oakland

70 volunteers

1,800 pounds of trash (over 25 pounds per person!)

San Jose

75 volunteers

900 pounds of trash (12 pounds per person!)

I had a wonderful day helping organize our amazing volunteers who showed up in force on Saturday.  I want to give a special shout out to the awesome students from Apollo High School in San Jose who were very impressive in their effort to clean up Guadalupe River.  It was great to see the community coming together to make their Bay, their home, a more safe, clean, and beautiful place to live.

The giant mound of rescued trash was clear evidence of how much our teamwork and effort paid off.

Coastal Cleanup Trash
Volunteers pulled strange items from our polluted waterways.

The garbage we found was an assortment of things big and small that you might use or see in your daily life: tires, grocery carts, food wrappers, cigarette butts, bottles, Santa Claus Christmas decoration, a baby stroller, and the list goes on.  All of these things found their way from our streets and into our watershed.  Many folks were surprised to hear that people were not just dumping garbage here, but that this waste was traveling great distances from our streets to our storm drains to local creeks and rivers and finally out into our beautiful Bay.

In just 3 hours, we collected enough Styrofoam to fill a 30 gallon bag. I was amazed at how much there was and how easily it broke apart creating an even bigger mess.  The Styrofoam that we collected paled in comparison to what we could not reach. The city of San Jose has been a leader in the fight to reduce trash pollution with a strong plastic bag ban, let’s see them continue this tradition with a similarly strong ban on this equally harmful pollutant!

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to over 7 million people and our actions affect one another even if we don’t realize it.  Trash from our cities is the number one threat to the health of the Bay and surrounding communities. Our efforts during Coastal Cleanup show us that through collective action we can make a difference.  We can all do our part to help reduce the amount of waste we produce, from the simple action of using  reusable bags and containers to cities and counties creating laws that ban single use plastic bags and polystyrene.  We are lucky to live in one of the most diverse and unique places on the planet. Let’s do more to keep it that way!

View photos from our cleanups on Facebook.