California Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers (Photo : California Coastal Commission)
Almost 60,000 volunteers throughout 55 counties in California took part in this year's "California Coastal Cleanup Day." This year was the 28th annual state-sponsored cleanup event and in three hours, volunteers succeeded in removing 320 tons of garbage and debris from 850 different sites, both inland and coastal.
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California Coastal Cleanup Day 2012 was supported by the California Coastal Commission, California State Parks Foundation and the Ocean Conservancy. The state received additional support from Whole Food, Oracle, Clif Bar, Union Bank, Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring Water and many more.
"The results [from this year's cleanup] will provide us with a baseline against which we can measure future cleanup data from those same locations," Eben Schwartz, Marine Debris Cleanup Manager for the California Coastal Commission said in a statement. "Volunteers collect data during every Coastal Cleanup Day, and this year is no different. However, with the potential for a significant increase in the amount of ocean-borne debris reaching California, it is important that we monitor the data closely so that we know where to direct our volunteers and resources in the coming months."
In San Mateo County, which had the highest number of people participating, 4,029 volunteers showed up and removed 27,364 pounds of trash & recyclables. The 2nd biggest turnout was in Alameda County and there 3,475 volunteers collected 27,117 pounds of trash & recyclables. 3rd place in terms of turn-out size, Contra Costa County had 2,980 volunteers remove 16,000 pounds of trash & recyclables. In Santa Clara County there were fewer volunteers but they managed to collect more garbage than in any of the aforementioned counties. 1,643 volunteers removed 44,811 pounds of trash & recyclables.
As part of the event, there was the "2012 Most Unusual Item" contest. Lots of unusual items were found including a 1962 Dodge convertible at the Almeda Resevoir.
Two winners were chosen for the contest, however. They were a concrete statue of a rabbit, found in Shasta County and an old, degraded love letter found at Kehoe Beach in Marin County. The letter was read aloud at a celebratory BBQ at the Bay Model Visitor Center after the cleanup. Whole Foods awarded those two winners each with a $50 gift card to their stores.
The volunteers for this year's event included California residents, school students and employees at non-profit organizations and private companies.
The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed 11-year-old Eva Macy, who was at the cleanup with a group from her school. She was asked about her findings during the event - at the time she was holding a bucketful of metal, glass and plastic that she'd found after sifting through sand.
"When I look at this bucket I don't know what to say," Macy told the Chronicle. "Why do people put this here? Don't they have any consideration for wildlife?"