Coastal Clean-Up Day

On Saturday, Sept. 20, people from all over the world took part in California Coastal Cleanup Day.

In Santa Monica, it was a warm and sunny day on the beach near the Santa Monica Pier, filled with nearly 800 people coming out to volunteer to help clean the coastal shorelines of Santa Monica.

Some of the volunteers included scuba divers, who used their skills to help clean the ocean floor off of the Santa Monica bay.

Certified scuba divers, Guillaume Dutilh and Max Mullen, from the Eco Scuba Shop, both volunteered their skills alongside their fellow scuba divers, to pick up trash from the ocean. Mullen said, "Well, I think ICCD is just a fantastic way for people from all over the world to keep our coasts clean, and there's tons of people here in Santa Monica cleaning up on the beach, and this was a great opportunity for the scuba divers of Southern California."

Since its conception, the California Coastal Cleanup Day has become part of an international effort to clean up the beaches and shorelines across the world.

The California Coastal Commission, dates the first coastal cleanup day as taking place in 1985, and estimates the program has received over 800,000 volunteers since then. The international coordination is done by a Washington, D.C. base nonprofit organization called the Ocean Conservancy.

According to its website, the Ocean Conservancy "promotes healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems and opposes practices that threaten ocean life and human life."

Through research, education, and science-based advocacy, Ocean Conservancy informs, inspires, and empowers people to speak and act on behalf of the oceans. In all its work, Ocean Conservancy strives to be the world's foremost advocate for the oceans."

One local sponsor of the day was Heal the Bay, which is a nonprofit organization started in Santa Monica, which has branched out across Southern California. Heal the Bay is the coordinator of the coastal cleanup day.

Like the Ocean Conservancy, Heal the Bay, is also a nonprofit that strides to protect Southern California's coasts and shorelines from pollution. It organizes many clean up efforts.

Heal the Bay volunteer Tara Crowe says, "This year is really important because we are going to be picking up our millionth pound of trash in the 19 years we have been doing this. I think the really important thing to realize is how the trash gets here. It's not the people at the beach leaving the trash, it is actually inland sources. All those storm drains from a 60 mile radius, any trash that goes down there, goes down the storm drains and ends up at the beach."

Also, supporting and coming out to help by organizing its employees to come and lend a hand, was the search engine Yahoo, and its nonprofit employee foundation.

The employee foundation is an entirely employee run foundation founded in 1999.

Nancy Olsen, a Yahoo employee and foundation volunteer, said, "This is our sixth year in a row we've done this, and we just care about the ocean, the air and the beaches." Erin Banks, another Yahoo employee and volunteer, said, in the past, that Yahoo has "given grants to Heal the Bay."

As in other years, the objective of this year's CCCD, is to create awareness of pollution problems facing the coasts of California and around the world. It is also an effort to create community action to clean coasts of California.

At Santa Monica beach, parents and children worked together to clean up trash in the bay and along the beach. Former Santa Monica College students, Audery Hess, and her mother Marilyn Hess, came out to volunteer for the event.

They both graduated together in 2001. Audery Hess said, "I like to help, and I like to be helpful." Marilyn Hess said, "We've been involved for many years because we feel that everyone needs to be responsible for cleaning up after themselves. I started originally when I took an ecology course at the college, and our teacher was very environmentally concerned, as we have always been. So, it's probably been 10 years ago"