This past weekend marked the 28th California Coastal Cleanup Day, an annual state-wide beach and river cleanup. FISHBIO’s Oakdale office joined the crowds of volunteers on the nearby Stanislaus River, while our Chico office participated in the Chico Creeks Cleanup Day. Volunteers amassed at numerous meeting locations around the state, eager to receive their assignments, grab trash bags, and head for the “hills”, beaches or what ever location they were assigned. Our Chico strike team, consisting of FISHBIO staff, Butte County Resource Conservation District staff, and two amazing volunteers, headed to upper Bidwell Park on Big Chico Creek where all trash was decimated on sight. Okay, in reality we threw it in our trash bags and hauled it back to a collection site where it was sorted for recyclables.
During last year’s Coastal Clean up a total of 71,794 volunteers picked up 1,345,776 pounds of debris state-wide, over 40% of which was recyclable. Interestingly, the Coastal Commission records the type of trash collected during the Coastal Cleanup Day. By far, the number one item is cigarette butts and filters, which make up 39.5% of all trash items collected between 1989 and 2011. Most cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, which is a non-degradable material. Food wrappers and containers come in at a not-so-close second place (10.4% of all items). There is also a prize for the most unusual item found, and this year the inland prize went to a volunteer in Redding who found a concrete statue of a rabbit.
California Coastal Cleanup Day usually attracts many volunteers who, like us at FISHBIO, find that a very important part of being in a community is actively contributing to keeping it clean. With all the volunteers who gave up their Saturday to help clean our local waterways, it was easy to see how much of a positive effect we can have on our environment and our community. At FISHBIO we feel honored to be involved in the Coastal Cleanup Day and we will be there next year, trash bags in hand.