Someone is missing their guitar. A big mattress and a mini fridge were also found as was an autographed baseball.

Results from the annual California Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, Sept. 23, are trickling in and even with just half of the expected reports tallied so far, organizers with the California Coastal Commission estimate 25,570 volunteers picked up at least 126,605 pounds of trash at events across the state – including some items that left folks scratching their heads.

Add in what could be recycled and some 67 tons have been counted so far.

California Coastal Cleanup Day, now in its 38th year, is the state’s largest annual volunteer event. Cleanups took place up and down the coast, from the Oregon border to the Mexico border, and as far inland as Lake Tahoe.

Gatherings big and small were held throughout the South Bay, Los Angeles, Long Beach, the Inland Empire and Orange County to collect trash from beaches, parks, rivers and waterways before the pollution could be washed to the ocean.

The statewide Coastal Cleanup Day was on Saturday, Sept. 23, and organizations and volunteers across the Southland went to beaches to pick up trash. Heal the Bay hosted a cleanup in San Pedro at Cabrillo Beach. (Photo by contributing photographer Chuck Bennett)
The statewide Coastal Cleanup Day was on Saturday, Sept. 23, and organizations and volunteers across the Southland went to beaches to pick up trash. Heal the Bay hosted a cleanup in San Pedro at Cabrillo Beach. (Photo by contributing photographer Chuck Bennett)

In Los Angeles County, with a handful of sites yet to give results, Heal the Bay tallied 5,359 volunteers who plucked at least 11,010 pounds of trash from 76 miles of beaches, rivers, trails and even under water.

Orange County Coastkeeper helped coordinate cleanups at 30 sites both inland and along the coast – an estimated 4,150 volunteers removed more than 17,380 pounds of trash, according to early results.

“Orange County’s beaches are for everyone to visit, enjoy and protect,” Irene Cordero, cleanups coordinator for Coastkeeper, said in a release. “California Coastal Cleanup Day gives people who love our ocean a chance to protect it, no matter where they live.”

Students from San Juan Hills High School remove a box-spring from San Juan Creek during the 39th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 23, 2023 at Descanso Park in San Juan Capistrano.
Students from San Juan Hills High School remove a box-spring from San Juan Creek during the 39th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 23, 2023 at Descanso Park in San Juan Capistrano.

At its biggest cleanup at Huntington State Beach more than 300 volunteers removed 283 pounds of trash from the coast.

The timing for the cleanups is especially important, as California braces for a forecasted wet, El Nino winter. Rains wash trash and debris to the beach, much of it ending up in the ocean, where it can harm the marine environment and species.

California’s event is also part of the International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest volunteer event dedicated to the marine environment, which is organized by the Ocean Conservancy.

In addition to the trash collected across the state, there were also 7,041 pounds of recyclable materials hauled away.

While the effort helps clean up the environment, it is also a community science project, which generates data that helps track trends, providing leaders with information needed to address the sources of the pollution, officials said.

Based on past cleanup data, an estimated 75% of what’s collected is composed of plastic, a material that never completely biodegrades and has numerous harmful consequences in the environment.

“Plastic debris can kill wildlife, leach toxic chemicals into the environment, and even introduce them into the food chain,” Coastal Commission officials said in their release. “The data has also shown that up to 80% of the trash on the California coast originates on land, so volunteers across the state helped prevent enormous amounts of trash from ever reaching the ocean, no matter where they participated.”

One of the most unusual items reported by the state? A volunteer in Yolo County found a 5.25-inch floppy disk – and none of the young people at the cleanup could identify what it was.

“For generations, Californians have demonstrated their love and dedication to our coast during Coastal Cleanup Day,” Coastal Commission Executive Director Kate Huckelbridge said in a statement. “The Coastal Commission is incredibly proud to provide an outlet for all Californians to express that dedication each year. We see how devoting only a few hours on a Saturday in September translates into a year-round commitment to the protection and preservation of our coast.”

For full results when they are available, go to coastal.ca.gov.

California

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