The sound of plastic rustling and the ocean swaying filled the ears of volunteers Saturday morning as they swept up the Alamitos Beach seaside in the naked heat for the Long Beach Environmental Alliance’s first Coastal Cleanup Day.
Alamitos Beach was an isolated habitat in contrast to other beach sites two years ago. If it weren’t for the LBEA, who petitioned to participate in the California Coastal Cleanup event, the state of the beach would be the same, John Kindred, co-founder of LBEA said.
“Every year we clean up and down the beach but not here, this part right here is a big gap between the south beaches,” Kindred said. “It’s like cleaning your bedroom. If you clean part [of] it and not all, you’re defeating the whole purpose.”
Eager volunteers lugged large plastic bags full of trash collected at the beach from 10 a.m. to noon, collecting cigarette butts and other remnants buried in the sand.
“I think it’s our civic duty, I live on First Street and I enjoy the beach everyday and I want it to be clean,” Roger Abea, a volunteer, said. “My classmate from the neighborhood leadership program, Audrey, was doing her birthday, so this is like a birthday cleanup.”
LBEA is a grassroots organization, which makes their expenses funded exclusively funded by donations from the community and the organization’s own funds.
“We’re mostly people on fixed-income or we don’t make much, [we’re] taking money from other things that we need at home to just send that to what we care about and believe [in],” Kindred said. “When people come out it means a lot, and people like when you acknowledge in helping something good. We all like a pat on the back.”
The Coastal Cleanup holds its annual event every third Saturday of September, which coincided with the birthdays of two LBEA members: financial director Audrey Ridenour, 29, and co-founder Sokha Ny, 28.
“So far my birthday months been going really well, this beach clean up was a great turn out,” Ny said. “I feel great, I’m continuing to be motivated because more people are showing up every time we have an event.”
Over 60 volunteers joined to gather over 150 pounds of trash, which Ny said has been the largest amount of trash picked up at any of their events.
Volunteers were greeted with plastic gloves and bags, which gave everyone an equal playing field to collect the most cigarette butts for a chance to win one of three possible rewards: a pair of movie tickets, a free meal to local restaurant Dog Haus or a ticket to the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific.