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Combatting beach pollution – and the pandemic – safely

In the early months of 2020 when the coronavirus was still novel and quarantine was just beginning in the United States, we were excited to see mother nature rebound as people around the world were forced to stay home. The waters in the Venice canals became clearer, air pollution “dropped to unprecedented levels” in major cities around the world and the notorious smog of Los Angeles cleared to reveal its beautiful downtown skyline. 

But many failed to realize an unintended side effect of the virus – a huge increase in the use of disposable face masks and latex gloves. An estimated 125 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves were used globally each month, according to a recent report. Conservationists immediately realized the threat this posed to our ocean as masks and gloves were soon found scattered across the coast. Not long after did we start seeing this trash (facemasks, latex gloves, takeout containers) pile up on our shores.  

Because of this, it’s imperative that we continue to protect our oceans and beaches. 

While big beach cleanups are no longer viable options due to social distancing regulations, there are still safe ways to host beach cleanups within your community. At Orange County Coastkeeper, we used the California Coastal Commission’s annual Coastal Cleanup Day – which this year turned into a cleanup month – to help clean up our beaches and coastal communities. People across California were encouraged to clean our coasts by sweeping through their own neighborhoods, parks, creeks, streams, rivers, and beaches every Saturday in the month of September (and beyond). 

It’s up to each and every one of us to protect our waterways, whether that be as a company, a family, an individual or a small group. While we may have to get more creative about how to do it as a community, we still have a responsibility to ourselves and each other to do our part. If you’re interested in more ways to host safe beach cleanups, we’ve got you covered! 

Here are some ways you can safely keep our beaches clean:

1. Virtual OCCK Beach Cleanups – “Beautification on Your Block” is the remote version of our classic community beach cleanup event. Go take a walk around your neighborhood and clean up any litter you find. You can even contribute your trash data by downloading the free CleanSwell app & naming your group ‘Coastkeeper Clean’. This is helpful for us, as well as policymakers regarding debris prevention and management. More information on how to participate can be found here

2. Host or Sponsor a Corporate Cleanup – While it’s no longer safe to hold massive company cleanups, you and your coworkers can still work with us to host a socially distant cleanup. Get in touch with us today to see the different ways your company can (safely) make a difference. 

3. Keep Coastal Cleanup Month Going Strong – Environmentalism isn’t a Green Day song – you don’t have to stop just because September ends! Do your part to keep your own community clean and encourage others to do the same.

If you’re interested in more ways you can get involved with OCCK or information on how to protect your own waterways, let us know. All water warriors are welcome here!