Going Coastal

Normally I’m not up this early voluntarily on a Saturday, as we all know.

However, today is California Coastal Cleanup Day. Every year, the third Saturday in September is set aside for this massive volunteer effort, which covers the entire coast of California (and has one of the most awesome ad campaigns ever). The program is now 21 years old, and it’s a great way to get thousands of pounds of garbage off the beaches, and put a focus on marine health. And yes, I am a dirty hippie, so yes, I am going to go collect garbage. It’s also delightfully nerdy–you fill out a data card listing all the objects you collect so that the Ocean Conservancy can keep accurate ongoing records of what is found where–a useful way to track the course of pollution. What’s sexier than spreadsheets of garbage?

It’s 9:00 AM to noon, so you still have time to hit the beach with gloves on–Big River Beach, Seaside Beach, Noyo Harbor Beach, and the Elk Beach are all local meeting points for coastal cleanup, although you are by no means limited to these locations (or today). Marine pollution is a big problem on a planet this large, and it’s important that we all do our part–not just to clean the beaches, but to put a stop to marine pollution of all kinds, and to actively work to protect the health of the oceans. My inland readers can contribute to riparian environments, which ultimately drain to the sea, by collecting waste as well.

The ocean is a great unexplored abyss, full of amazing and wonderful things, most of which we don’t know about. If we keep trashing the global ocean, we may never know what we have destroyed.

Ships like tankers and cruise ships pollute the marine environment with billions of pounds of refuse every year dumped in the open ocean. Many people throw garbage directly on the beach, or dump it on streets which drain to the ocean. Aside from being disgusting, marine debris poses serious hazards to all sorts of wildlife, from fish to birds to marine mammals, and it affects hundreds of species through entanglement and ingestion.

Even if you don’t give a shit about the environment, you should be aware that marine pollution costs us billions of dollars every year, from paying to haul garbage away to causing severe damage to small watercraft and fishing nets from debris. Flotsam, by the way, is wreckage from a ship, wheras jetsam is debris cast off from boats. The Titanic is flotsam: that beer can you threw overboard last week is jetsam, and both damage the marine environment. Either way, the cost is high.

Garbage sucks, and the ocean is full of it: go out and make a difference. Living greener lives will result in bluer oceans for later generations, and that’s a good thing. Besides, my ongoing goal to eat one of everything on earth is going to be severely threatened if things keep going extinct before I can eat them.

How you can help:

  • Buy less crap–so less of it ends up in the garbage.
  • Contribute to local clean up efforts during events like California Coastal Cleanup Day.
  • Pick up waste you see and make sure it gets in a proper receptacle for disposal.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle–try not to make anything in your house single use only. (Except toilet paper.) Reuse glass jars, bring bags to the grocery store with you, rewrap aluminum foil, and get the last out of everything. It makes life cheaper, too.
  • Do business with green companies–vote with your pocketbook when it comes to ethical business practices.
  • Use ecologically sound means to clean your house and vehicles. Vinegar, for example, is a great all purpose cleaner–so are salt, lemon juice, and a variety of other things. You don’t need to use intense chemicals to get your world smelling yummy.
  • Drive less. Walk more.
  • Refrain from the use of heavy chemicals on your lawn (if you have one–you shouldn’t, if you care about the environment), and in other aspects of your life–rain washes them into the ocean, ultimately.
  • Recycle used motor oil, tyres, batteries, and other toxic sundries.
  • Keep storm drains clean.
  • Buy recycled and used items with minimal packaging.
  • Eat, grow, and buy organic.
  • Dispose of cigarette butts properly (or, better yet, don’t smoke).

[California Coastal Cleanup Day]