California Coastal Cleanup Day is Sept. 17 and Long Beach is looking for volunteers to help clean up the city’s coastal areas, a job that grew in size after the remnants of Hurricane Kay hit the area.
Coastal Cleanup Day is a statewide event and will be hosted at numerous cleanup sites across the state. In Long Beach, those sites include Junipero Beach, Alamitos Bay Marina, Mother’s Beach, the Peninsula and the Belmont Pier.
The 38th annual cleanup day is being put on by the California Coastal Commission with local help from individual cities and counties. In Long Beach, the crews from the El Dorado Park Nature Center will be on the ground helping direct volunteers to the various cleanup sites.
Eben Schwartz, an outreach manager with the Coastal Commission, said volunteers don’t have to worry about bringing their own supplies like bags, but organizers do ask that people try to bring reusable supplies like buckets and gardening gloves to cut down on the number of disposable gloves they have to provide.
“We’re trying to limit the amount of single-use plastics used while we’re cleaning up single-use plastics,” Schwartz said.
While the cleanup efforts had to pivot to a hybrid approach the past few years due to the pandemic, Schwartz said they expect this year’s turnout to be closer to normal, which could double last year’s mark of about 32,000 volunteers statewide.
The group is still offering a remote cleanup option for anyone who is sick or can’t make it to the beach on Saturday. Instructions for how to participate remotely are posted on the commission’s website including how to use the Clean Sweep App to log the trash collected.
While hosting a beach cleanup remotely might seem unusual, Schwartz said cleaning up local parks and other inland areas can help keep beaches clean because, eventually, that trash will end up on the coastline. About 80% of what is picked up at the beach originates from inland sources, he said.
Long Beach, which sits between the mouth of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers, could see a lot of that inland trash end up on its shores. And increased swells and winds from the remnants of Hurricane Kay also brought in trash that had been farther off the coast.
Matt Billinghurst, the city’s coastal cleanup coordinator, said the city is anticipating that additional debris could be left on the beach but they’re hoping that more people will come out this year now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. Last year, over 500 volunteers were able to remove about 1,000 pounds of debris during the three-hour cleanup event, according to the city.
“It will definitely be good to get a few hundred or maybe a few thousand people out there for that reason,” Billinghurst said.
California Coastal Cleanup Day is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to noon. A map of cleanup locations in Long Beach can be found here.