The City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine hosted their annual coastal cleanup on Sept. 23. The event took place in Belmont Pier, Junipero Beach, Peninsula Beach, Mother’s Beach and Seal Beach Yacht Club.
According to Heal the Bay, so far 7,234 volunteers participated in the Los Angeles County Coastal Cleanup, where 15,520 pounds of trash were removed and 404 pounds of recyclables were collected. These statistics are still tentative as nine sites have yet to complete their reports.
Volunteers showed up from 9 a.m. to noon. Free parking was available for the event and site captains helped volunteers with things like providing buckets, registering and liability waivers.
Katie Soto works at the El Dorado Nature Center and helped organize the event. She has volunteered before, but this is her first time organizing.
“I spend a lot of time out here and so it’s nice to be able to give back and then doing it through the nature center you get more opportunities and resources to use to be able to come out,” Soto said.
Thenera Bailey, a site captain at the event, said, “I think it’s important just in general because the environment is deteriorating, climate change is a real thing, but also our sorority is focused on community service.” She helped the volunteers by providing them with sunscreen, gloves and snacks.
Mayor of Long Beach Rex Richardson said in a press release, “Long Beach has more than six miles of coastline that can benefit from the efforts of volunteers.”
Many volunteers came from farther away. Arcadia High School students Ava Shaw and Carmen Bermejo took the initiative to volunteer at the cleanup despite not being in the Environmental Science class that promoted the event. They said they were inspired to volunteer because they really love the ocean and the animals that live in it, they want to make sure the animals have a healthy environment to live and thrive.
Yvonne Temal is part of the hiking community Hiking on Purpose. She said she learned about the cleanup from another hiking community named Hike Explore Repeat.
“We need to keep nature clean and mother earth clean. We are very much nature people going on the trails and I think that also sets a good example for the younger generations, and especially for our animals I think it’s really important to keep this space protected,” said Temal.
Others were encouraged to volunteer by their churches like Nazari Torres, who brought her whole family to help.
“My church encouraged us to do it and what I liked about it is that they said we could come as a family, so I thought it was a good idea to teach my kids to come and clean up,” said Torres. She explained that her church assigned people to different locations where the event was taking place to have volunteers help everywhere.
Amrita Spencer, Marlene Alvarado and Eric Gonzalez volunteered with the California Coastal Commision. Spencer and Alvarado explained that community cleanups inspire people and help them feel less overwhelmed and hopeless.
“People see us doing it, you know the biggest thing you can do to help the beach is not get it dirty in the first place, so they see people cleaning it, it’s giving them the incentive well these people are cleaning I don’t want to make a mess. So now we got all these people to think again like where is my trash going,” Gonzalez said.
According to a Long Beach City press release, “Last year, more than 1,100 Long Beach volunteers removed over 2,500 pounds of debris in only three hours.”
The city wants to inform more people about the cleanup and “marine debris issues” in hopes of inspiring people to take action on environmental issues.