On Saturday, September 15, 2012, close to 60,000 California residents and over 800 Humboldt County volunteers spread out on beaches and along local waterways throughout California for the 28th annual beach clean-up hosted by the California Coastal Commission and supported by California State Parks Foundation and the Ocean Conservancy. The efforts have been international for the past 25 years.
Northwest Environmental Center was the county coordinator of over 50 sites in Humboldt, from Shelter Cove to the Humboldt Lagoons. A number of local high schools, non profits, Humboldt State University students, and concerned citizens participated in the clean up. Janssen Malloy, LLP attorney Shanti Michaels joined the efforts at a site in South Eureka near Hilfiker Lane along the Elk River trail.
The statewide clean-up yielded about a half million pounds of trash and an additional hundred thousand pounds of recyclable materials, according to California Coastal Commission estimates. Cigarette butts were the most commonly littered item in Humboldt according to local organizers. Further Humboldt challenges included homeless encampments along the coast, but some of the campers cooperated in the clean-up efforts or pledged to keep their encampments tidy.
The clean-up effort and data collection do more than just aesthetically improve the coastline. They advance the science of waste management and allow policymakers to focus on areas for future clean-ups and ways to address waste reduction. The California Coastal Commission reports that clean-up day kicked off “Coastweeks,” a three-week celebration of our coastal and water resources. Events related to this celebration are listed at at the public education page of the California Coastal Commission's website.