By Jacque Winberg
For nearly two years, Coastal Angels has hosted beach cleanups on the Orange County, California coastline - and it hasn't been pretty. In fact, it's hideous! The public in this county needs to help clean up and crack down on plastic pollution.
Why isn't the beach clean and safe?
We think about this daily. Why isn't the beach clean? How could this much plastic pollution end up on the coast? Well, there are a three factors to take into consideration. 1) Urban and Commercial Runoff 2) Littering 3) Weather
Everyone ought to do their part, starting at home. Recycle or reuse as much plastic as possible. Reduce the use for all plastic bags including sandwich bags and grocery bags. Plastic pollution gets lifted by the Santa Ana winds or carried by car currents off the side of the road, and jumps into water canals. Some debris falls into storm drains. The water canals push the garbage out into the ocean and therefore, trash gets poured in. Ocean currents then spit the trash onto the beach.
In other cases, people litter on the beach itself and leave their trash behind. We want to change that mentality. I can't tell you how many times I've seen patches of sand littered with cigarettes. It is evidence of deliberate littering.
In the case we have a storm or weather change that affects the ocean, we see an influx of trash on the beach. We say plastic pollution a lot, but it's what we see the most and it takes years to decompose. We observe clear and obscure plastic bags tucked in sand pockets, and tiny bits of plastic ranging from all the colors of the rainbow. At any given beach cleanup, we find cigarettes, bottle caps, plastic bottles and bags, as well as pill bottles, syringes, and condoms.
This is what it has come down to. One of the most beautiful coastline's in the world isn't safe enough for children to build sand castles.
Our job is to host beach cleanups while building a community of people who come together to expose and fight the insane amount of plastic pollution riddling our coastline. Human beings have created the objects that litter our beaches and harm wild life. We listen to our volunteers and adjust accordingly to findings (discussions, surveys, and waste collection).
We strongly encourage the OC public to make adjustments that include: stop using single-use plastics, help us pick up the mess that has been left behind, and please learn more about plastic pollution.
Let's protect our beaches together and speak out about plastic pollution now.