On a sunny morning of Saturday, June 18th we pulled up to the parking lot near Venice Beach Pier to find a long line of cars waiting to park. I had a bag packed with water, sunscreen and a bundle of company T-shirts made for the event. As we were parking my phone started to ring as our program participants were arriving to the meeting spot. The beach was packed with various groups of people, some dressed in color-coordinated shirts which suggested that they too, were volunteering with their organizations. On the beach there were tents set up and people gathered around, some with buckets and gloves in hand. I greeted our interns who were all from Japan and we introduced each other and gave them T-shirts to wear and we walked over to the check-in tent and stood in line. The volunteering spirit was in the air!
Once we checked-in we were directed to another tent for the security orientation. An enthusiastic young lady in Heal the Bay T-shirt spoke to us about the major causes of pollution — such as stormwater being the biggest source of pollution to the Santa Monica Bay. She said that with runoff comes all sorts of urban slobber: bacteria, motor oil, pesticides, trash, and other pollutants. Heal the Bay staff continue to fight against plastic pollution through education and proactive policies to protect aquatic life from confusing trash for food, or becoming entangled in plastic that pollutes our local waters, and we were doing our part by picking up trash from the beach which eventually ends up in the water and kills the fish. We were given a bucket, gloves and a card with a pencil to document the type of trash that we found, which is eventually entered in The Marine Debris Database (MDDB) – an online tool that collects and analyses the type and amount of trash collected at various Heal the Bay events. This database has been the driving tool in making the legislative bans on the type of trash disposal allowed, so our input was very important, we were told.
We disbursed into smaller groups and went about wandering the beach looking through sand to find and pick up items that did not belong on the beach. During our stroll we chatted about the value of the professional experience on the program abroad, the differences between cultures, in food and leisurely things to do in Los Angeles. Some beachgoers were curious who we were and what we were doing. When they found out they thanked us for volunteering and for making the beaches clean. In two hours-time the event was wrapping up and the sun was at noon and becoming very fierce. So we emptied our bucket, which was mainly filled with plastic debris, Styrofoam and cigarette filters, all of which were documented on the report card. Our interns exchanged numbers and made plans to see each other another time. It was a good Saturday morning and everyone left feeling great!
The four participants who chose to join in the fun with Olivia (in middle) were (left to right) Chieko Tomioka, Chiharu Kawasaki, Yuri Aramaki, and Maya Miyakawa. Chiharu is currently in a training program at a logistics company while everyone else is currently involved in business administration and management training. Despite their different backgrounds, all of the participants were able to come together and work towards a common goal. Thank you all for participating in this beach cleanup!
If you have any questions about similar events near your, please contact your program administrator.