Pollution in rivers, lakes and the ocean is nothing new. In the 1960s, fishermen banded together to take a stand against pollution in the Hudson River in New York, forming the first official Waterkeeper organization. Today, beach clean-ups in San Diego yield tons of trash each year. Even though many people are staying home during the pandemic, the San Diego Union Tribune reports that trash seems to be even worse this past year on the beautiful beaches in the community. If you wonder “how can we protect the ocean?”, beach clean-ups do more than simply pick up trash.
How Does Beach Litter Affect the Environment?
Litter on the beach goes way beyond just plastic trash that is found everywhere. People leave behind electronics, glass bottles, aluminum cans and more. Plastic trash is certainly one of the biggest problems, because once it gets into the water, it can travel hundreds of miles. Birds, mammals and fish try to eat the plastic or get caught in the debris. The chemicals that leak from the debris impact the ecosystem.
Humans and wildlife get injured by the debris on beaches. Beaches that are littered get less tourists, which can affect the economy. Aquatic debris threatens navigation in the waters, and it can damage boat motors and vessels themselves. The trash on the beach reduces the aesthetics of the property, lowering property values. Litter is a public cost burden, as coastal communities must put a portion of their budget toward keeping the beaches clean instead of using that money to build infrastructure.
How Do Beach Clean-Ups Help?
Many San Diego environmental groups tirelessly work to keep San Diego beaches clean. It’s not only about keeping the beaches clean. It’s about working toward a sustainable and green planet. In San Diego, volunteers not only collect trash, but record their findings. They’re been collecting this data since 2007 to help understand what is happening on the beaches.
Beach clean-ups collect trash, but there are other goals:
- Protecting the environment
- Raising awareness about the problem of beach litter
- Connecting with others who share the same goals
- Breaking the cycle of littering
In one session, 208 volunteers picked up 561 pounds of litter in just three hours. Beach clean-ups are great for children and adults of any age. Anyone who spends a few hours a year picking up trash is certainly more aware of their own impact on the environment. In San Diego, you can be involved in a beach clean-up with a group from your community or your business or organization can sponsor a day to clean up a beach. If you go to the beach, even picking up a few pieces of trash as part of your own agenda can help.
The ocean is a vast expanse that is often taken for granted. Learn more about the ocean when you take a whale watching excursion in San Diego to remember why it’s important to keep our beaches clean. The next time you go to the beach, remember to take only memories and leave only footprints. Clean up after yourself and don’t leave trash behind.