By Volunteer and Social Media Coordinator Hannah Nelson
September 18th was California Coastal Cleanup Day 2021 – a day that called for volunteers from across the state to join a local organization to remove trash and plastic pollution from beaches and waterways.
Our Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA) cleanup was no less than a ringing success. The event was planned and hosted by one of our partners and long-time volunteers, Karla Reinhardt. Our event was small, mostly friends, neighbors, and a few long-standing ODA volunteer veterans.
Around 9am Saturday morning, our volunteers started showing up at our Fullerton Brea Creek Channel site with 14 adults and 5 children – young girls, young boys, teens, college students, moms, dads, all age groups! It was overwhelmingly amazing to see such a diversity of individuals show up prepared to pick up trash for a couple of hours on their Saturday morning.
In January 2018, Karla filed an application with Orange County’s Adopt A Channel program so that ODA could work to positively impact the quality of water that heads out to the ocean.
Although Fullerton is approximately 20 miles inland, unless we intercede, trash that gets into the channel will soon make it to our coastal waters.
Our adopted channel segment is part of the Brea Creek Channel near downtown Fullerton.
This flood control channel is designed to send storm water and street runoff into Coyote Creek, then into the San Gabriel River, and ultimately into Alamitos Bay. Unfortunately, and especially after a major rain, this water carries street litter and debris to the ocean.
Hard work pays off
Our section of the channel was about one kilometer (a little over half a mile). Though it was a smaller stretch, it yielded TONS of trash, and nearly 37 soccer balls! After scouring the channel for a good hour, we collectively gathered about 350 pounds of trash – it was great!
Due to requests of the Coastal Cleanup Day organizers, we sorted through all of the items at the end for data collection, separating our items into specific categories. They were categories such as cigarette butts, plastic bags, plastic containers, etc.
Check out our stunning statistics:
- 442 Food wrappers
- 102 Beverage bottles and cans
- 82 Cigarette butts
- 12 Take Out containers
- 18 Bottle caps
- 28 Plastic lids
- 15 Straws
- 7 Utensils
- 70 Plastic bags
- 69 Paper bags
- 62 Cups & plates (foam, paper, plastic)
- 83 Packaging (foam, plastic)
- 12 Tobacco packages/wraps and cannibis bottles
- 30 Metal bottles/cans
- 21 Face masks
- 22 Gloves
- Miscellaneous: cigarete lighters, construction materials, syringes, feminine hygiene products, random pieces of foam, glass, and plastic.
To top it all off, we ended the day on a more savory note. Local food truck, Vega Loba, provided some amazing vegan Mexican cuisine for our volunteers. Tacos, burritos, and some cold drinks were earned after such hard work and a successful morning.
It’s the cleanups like these that remind us how important it is to keep our local land channels clear. The debris that makes its way into these channels will inevitably make it to our beaches and ocean with every passing storm. We HAVE to start at the root of the problem and work collectively to minimize our impact.
Thank you to the amazing volunteers who supported and worked hard to clean the Brea Creek Channel!