Trash We Left At The Beach

Photos and Story


Charmaine Coimbra

September 19, 2009

I dumped four-pounds of trash at Hearst Memorial State Beach this morning.  That doesn’t include the dozen recyclable drink containers and

Some of the trash I left at the beach

Some of the trash I left at the beach

food wrappers.  I left them there too.

I’d bet the other folks with us this morning left behind another 20 to 50# of trash and recyclables.  And after I left my trash behind and drove home I witnessed dozens of other folks at neighboring beaches repeating my actions.  So I’d guess that a dump truck-sized load of trash was left along California’s central coast this morning.

Not to worry.  I’ve not gone mad.  All this trash was handed over to the volunteers working for  the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup today.  How much trash was picked up and removed from waterways and beaches today, the numbers aren’t in, but “last year, nearly 400,000 volunteers collected more than 6.8 million pounds of trash in 100 countries and 42 US states during the 2008 International Coastal Cleanup,” notes the Ocean Conservancy website

That means fewer albatross will consume plastic cigarette lighters today, less seals will become entangled in fishing debris, a few less mermaid tears  ( will form and later be consumed by the fish we will likely consume down the road, and a few more marine mammals will not mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish.  Perhaps a few more whale necropsies won’t discover 400 pounds of plastic in their bellies.  All of today’s beach cleanup will also not add to the growing island of trash in the Pacific Ocean.

Our volunteer team of five included enthusiastic Ryan Gunter, an 11-year-old who volunteered with his grandparents, Bob and Kay Baker of

Ryan Gunter shows off his found debris

Ryan Gunter shows off his found debris

Cambria.  Ryan’s finds included a necklace, which if once washed into the sea, would eventually break  down into bite-sized plastic beads resembling fish eggs to hungry fish. Besides tiny bits of broken plastic, bottle caps and food wrappers  we also added one plastic flip flop to the trash bag.

Here are some downloadable pdf-format booklets about debris and our waterways:

A Guide To Marine Debris:

The Rising Tide of Ocean Debris:

Categories: Beach Rescue, Condition of Oceans, Saving the Oceans, Trash Gyre

Tags: , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. Wish I could join you in this endeavor.

    Very much touched by all of you and your efforts.

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