On May 19th, 700 students from communities across the San Francisco Bay Area gathered on Ocean Beach to help clean up trash littered on the sand. This is all part of a statewide effort to reconnect kids with the environments they live in. If they understand that trash on the beach impacts wildlife, water quality and the beauty of their community, then they will likely be better stewards of their environment as they grow older, creating a more sustainable San Francisco Bay Area.
I blogged about the Ocean Beach Cleanup day earlier this month and wanted to follow up after I attended and volunteered.
The kids were all very excited. They showed up in herds at 7:30 in the morning, all gloved up with protective latex protective handwear. Each student brought his or her own trash receptacle. That way, no unnecessary plastic bags were used. It was my job to let all the kids know how the day would proceed, how to keep everyone safe and how to prepare for the aerial photo that was to be taken later on in the day. And of course, I picked up trash.
Kids combed the beach with their teachers and parents and cleared it of small pieces of plastic, cigarette butts and other trash. Although small and hard to see, the smaller pieces of trash can be the most problematic for the environment. Seagulls and other birds eat this garbage mistaking it for food and can die. It also gets swept into the ocean and can harm the habitat.
After the students finished combing the beach, they were instructed to get into formation, just like a marching band. Once in position, a helicopter flew overhead and took our picture. You can see the photo to the left. Pretty cool huh?
All in all it was a great day. I was happy to help out at such an effective event. In the short term, the beach got cleaned up, everyone had fun and we all got to hang out at the beach for a day. In the long term, 700 kids were active participants in learning how to protect our environment and will take that knowledge with them wherever they go.