Coastal Cleanup draws hundreds to Malibu beaches

Three trophies were given out at Surfrider Beach this year for the most cigarette butts collected. Almost 4,000 were found. Pictured: Niki Walters, 1st place, Sarah Fitzgerald, 3rd place, and Alexandria Carrion, 2nd place. Photos by Janet Laird / TMT

The Coastal Cleanup Day supervisor at Surfrider Beach says more people volunteered than have in the past 10 years.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

Malibu’s and Los Angeles’ beaches are now a little cleaner, thanks to Heal the Bay. The environmental advocacy group led the Los Angeles County portion of the international annual Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday at more than 50 sites along Santa Monica Bay as volunteers picked up litter.

Heal the Bay reported on its Web site this week that 11,020 volunteers came out to help with the effort. They collected a combined 73,722 pounds of trash and 5,512 pounds of recyclables.

Rob Hoover, who headed the effort at Surfrider Beach, said he was pleased by the volunteer performance at that beach. Two hundred ninety people came out for the day and collected 373 pounds of litter, including 257 pounds of trash and 116 pounds of recyclables.

“That was the most amount of people I’ve ever had at the beach in the past 10 years,” Hoover said.

Statewide, the number of people participating in the cleanup might have exceeded last year’s record of 50,375, according to the California Coastal Commission, which led the statewide effort. On Tuesday, Coastal Commission officials said, with 70 percent of the cleanup sites reporting, 45,443 volunteers participated. They collected 426,890 pounds of trash and 69,881 pounds of recyclables. Coastal Commission officials said they expect to exceed 800,000 pounds collected once the final numbers are in.

The winner of the Coastal Commission’s 2007 Most Unusual Item contest went to an item found in Monterey County-a safe. The safe was empty, with the sides having been blown out, apparently by dynamite, according to a Coastal Commission press release.

In its release, the Coastal Commission encouraged Californians to take responsibility for making sure trash gets thrown in a trash can, recycling bin or hazardous waste dump.

“Past Coastal Cleanup Day data tell us that most (60 percent to 80 percent) of the debris on our beaches and shorelines come from inland sources, traveling through storm drains or creeks out to the beaches and ocean,” a Coastal Commission press release stated. “Rain, or even something as simple as hosing down a sidewalk can wash cigarette butts, bits of plastic [foam], pesticides and oil into the storm drains and out to the ocean.”

Coastal Cleanup Day began in 1985 and has grown into an international event led by the Ocean Conservancy that takes place every year on the third Saturday in September. Every state with a coastline participates in the program, and even some inland states have volunteers come out to clean river and lakeshores. According to Heal the Bay, more than 60 nations participate in the annual affair.