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Heal the Bay Blog

Author: Emely Garcia

The consumption of single-use plastic has surged exponentially during the pandemic. Safety concerns make it more challenging to use a reusable cup at our local coffee shop and many stores have policies that complicate bringing your own bag. With everything else in the world feeling a bit defeating, this is the perfect time to double down on what we can control.

One easy and simple way to make your lifestyle more sustainable is by conducting a quick waste audit. Waste audits are the perfect way to evaluate what we use in our day-to-day lives, see where we can replace single-use items with reusables, and get into the habit of buying fewer things made from non-degradable or non-recyclable materials.

So what exactly is a waste audit, and how do we get started? 

A waste audit is an analysis of the trash we produce in our own homes to take note of what is actually being disposed of. This gives us a better understanding of what we’re adding to the waste stream and allows us to get a snapshot of what we use, throw away, and recycle. Waste audits can also help us identify areas we want to improve in terms of consumption and use, and possibly inspire cost saving or upcycling ideas. 

Home waste adults are helpful tools that can bring more environmental awareness and change into our lives. 

Here’s our 5 step guide to a DIY waste audit: 

Audit Prep 

  1. Set a time:  Ask yourself, “how long do I want to do a trash audit?” Remember you can do a trash audit in one day or over the course of a few days. We recommend a 4-5 day window and choosing a date(s) you won’t have any special events to avoid skewing your audit data. Once you pick your start and end dates, set a reminder on your phone or mark your calendar to start your audit. 
  2. Grab a bin: Designate one trash bin in your home to collect waste items you use for your analysis. Make sure to separate out and rinse any containers that have any organic waste materials. Organic waste, like food scraps, won’t be counted in your audit.
  3. Collect trash: let your trash pile up until your designated time to evaluate. 

Evaluation 

  1. Grab supplies: You’ll need your now very full trash bin, something to take notes with, a tarp, and 15-30 mins of time. 
  2. Sort your trash: lay out your tarp and place all your trash on the tarp into categories. Examples include: “paper products,”  “recyclables,” “wrappers,” “miscellaneous,” etc. Tally your waste to document your results. If you want to take your waste analysis a step further use this form to help you categorize your home waste and use this guide or video to help you categorize products and attribute it to the brands that produced it.

When looking through your trash, try to answer these questions to understand the type of waste you’re producing:

  • Can you note how many of the items you’ve thrown away that can be recycled? Not all plastics are recyclable, even if it has a chasing arrows icon. Less than 10% of plastics are actually recyclable, and most will never be recycled. Watch this video to learn what each of the numbers between the chasing arrows icon on plastic containers actually mean.
  • What is your most commonly thrown out item? Is there anything that surprises you about what you collected? (Maybe you have an excess of packaging material, or a certain type of product. Perhaps a particular brand seems to use excessive packaging.) 
  • What items are necessary and what could be replaced with a reusable or more environmentally-friendly product? 
  • Besides recycling, what options do you have for disposal? (Can anything in your bin be composted, like cardboard?)  
  • How did you do? What did you discover? Are there any areas of improvements? What are some other alternatives?

Awareness is the first step. Action is power. Once we know more about our own personal consumption habits, we can make the change that best suits our needs and the environment.

If you want to take it a step further after your audit and challenge yourself, try refusing the top five sources of single-use plastic that we find most commonly on our beaches, parks, and streets.

 



Photo by Mayra Vasquez. Courtesy of Los Angeles County.

Beach Programs Manager Emely Garcia shares where marine debris and ocean pollution start, and how Heal the Bay uses community science, data collection, and science-based advocacy to develop solutions.

Ocean pollution begins at our front doors.  Each year thousands of pounds of trash and plastic waste are discharged through the storm drain system, ending up on our LA County beaches. Before trash makes its way into the storm drain system and on to the beaches, it litters our local streets, waterways, and parks, harming wildlife and impacting their habitats. Scientists estimate that about 80% of marine debris comes from our neighborhoods and communities.

To understand the problem of marine debris more completely, we need to collect local litter and pollution data in order to develop data-driven solutions. Now more than ever, we need remote support with data collection. We encourage curious, passionate Heal the Bay volunteers to take part in a DIY cleanup and data collection. Gathering valuable litter data around your neighborhood helps us continue to battle ocean-bound litter.

Photo by Venice Paparazzi. Courtesy of Dockweiler Youth Center and LA County Dept of Beaches & Harbors.

Heal the Bay uses our beach cleanup data to inform critical environmental and public policy. For example, in 2014, the City of Los Angeles’ plastic bag ban went into effect, following years of advocacy by our Science and Policy team. Thanks in part to that effort, we were able to implement a state-wide California bag ban in 2016, and eight more states have implemented bag bans since then. Since these bag bans went into effect, our data shows that the number of plastic bags picked up at cleanups has decreased drastically. This data makes a difference. With marine debris data and your help, we can continue to tackle clean water issues and toxic plastic pollution with science-based advocacy.

Turn the Tide: Tracking Data

If we want to see change, we need to combine personal action with collective action. Volunteers can participate in scientific research to fight ocean pollution by joining the community science marine debris data movement. Follow these steps to participate in community science on your next neighborhood walk.

 

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Get Involved

Heal the Bay has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to offer our official cleanup data cards digitally. With the Marine Debris Tracker app, you can capture location through GPS, record debris items, attach photos, and track statistics in real time. Join the thousands of community scientists from all over the world who have logged more than 2 million pieces of litter on the app.

To begin collecting valuable debris data in your community, download the mobile Marine Debris Tracker app on a smart phone or tablet through your app store or Google Play. Here are some helpful cleanup tips and step-by-step data tracking instructions to get you started:


Download

How to Track Data

Step 1. Decide where you will collect your data. Find a location that is accessible to you and walking distance from where you live. Open the Marine Debris Tracker app and select “Start Tracking”.

Step 2. Next, select the Heal the Bay icon from the list of partner organizations. Selecting Heal the Bay allows you to participate in local LA County marine debris tracking efforts. 

Cleanup Pro Tip –Gather your materials and stay safe

    • Cleanup supplies: A mask, work gloves, and an old bucket or bag to collect trash in.
    • Pack essentials: Pack items like a first aid kit, a filled reusable water bottle, and some of your favorite snacks to stay fueled and hydrated.
    • Watch our Cleanup Safety Video or read our Cleanup Safety Talk, and remember to NOT pick up anything you are not comfortable picking up.

Step 3. Once the Heal the Bay page is selected you will see a list of top community trackers. Log plenty of debris items and get your name to the top of the ranking list. You can also encourage family and friends to participate for some friendly competition. 

Cleanup Pro Tip-

    • Adhere to county guidelines and respect any recreational space closures.
    • Limit your cleanup group participants to only the people in your household to accommodate physical distancing and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you see other people while you are outside, make sure to stay at least 6 feet away.

Step 4. Track litter!  The icons in orange are debris categories you can hit the each category to bring up the list or scroll down to see all items listed on our digital data card. Be sure to hit the add button to track your find. 

Cleanup Pro Tip-

  • You can collect data for as long as you’d like. We recommend two hour cleanups. One hour going out, and one hour coming back to your start location. 
  • Be aware of the elements. Wear closed-toed shoes and protective sun gear, like sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen. And stay hydrated with you reusable water bottle.

Step 5. Before submitting your data, enter in any details that might apply by filling out the Heal the Bay Volunteer survey. Here you can include details that apply to your group by checking the boxes or typing any information that may apply.  

Cleanup Pro Tip

    • After filling out the survey, submit your data by hitting save and toss your collected trash in the nearest waste receptacle. 

Remember, your observations could lead to the next breakthrough. Finding ways to take individual and community action makes the fight against pollution more effective. Thanks for tracking valuable debris data, and being a part of this amazing cleanup effort.

Learn more about our newly adapted Adopt-A-Beach cleanup program and challenge.

 



Beach Programs Manager, Emely Garcia, highlights how Heal the Bay is relaunching our Adopt-A-Beach cleanup program to be a safe, fun, and refreshing summer challenge.

For more than 20 years, Heal the Bay’s Adopt-A-Beach cleanup volunteers have worked together to keep LA County’s natural and coastal resources heathy and safe. Our Adopt-A-Beach program gives passionate volunteers the tools to lead independent cleanups, collect critical marine debris data, and actively participate in protecting what we love. Since mid-March, Heal the Bay has postponed all public cleanup programming to protect public health in response to COVID-19, and we look forward to hosting public cleanups once it is safer to gather.

With the start of summer, we’re excited to relaunch our official Adopt-A-Beach Program for individuals, families, and households that are eager to be a part of the solution to ocean pollution. Ocean pollution starts at our front doors, and local trash on our streets travels through the storm drain systems, creeks, and rivers to become beach and ocean pollution. Everyone can take part and help prevent ocean-bound trash by participating in local neighborhood cleanups. Heal the Bay volunteers have removed more than 2.5 million pounds of trash from L.A County beaches, rivers and neighborhoods. Our newly reimagined Adopt-A-Beach program is adapted to support you and your household to lead a safe and fun cleanup.

 

About the Official Adopt-A-Beach Program 

Our Adopt-A-Beach program originally began as an effort to protect our coastal resource, but Adopt-A-Beach volunteers are encouraged to participate at any location that needs TLC in LA County, such as a park, street, creek, or beach.  To participate in the Adopt-A-Beach program, a group needs to commit to cleaning up a favorite outdoor location three times in a year. The program is extremely flexible and allows participants to choose the day, time, and location of their cleanups. Plus, it’s a fun and active way to get involved community science research. (See our guidelines for more details*) 

What’s the incentive? 

  • Heal the Bay Educational resources and safety talk from Heal the Bay’s Speakers Bureau. 
  • Be a part of a community science effort to collect Marine Debris Data.
  • An official Heal the Bay Adoption Certificate upon completion of all three cleanups. 
  • Opportunity to be featured on Heal the Bay’s Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
  • TONS of kudos for leaving a special place outdoors better than you found it.

 So what are you waiting for? Take part in the official Adopt-A-Beach Summer Challenge today!  

View the Adopt-A-Beach Guide

Sign Up

 




Heal the Bay is proud to join Latino Outdoors and partners in the celebration of Latino Conservation Week, July 18th– 26th 2020.

Latino Conservation Week (LCW) is an annual initiative presented by the Hispanic Access Foundation to highlight the Latinx experience in outdoor stewardship and environmentalism. Since its launch in 2014, LCW has had tremendous growth across the country in the outdoor engagement and conservation advocacy by Latinx communities.

This week, community groups, environmental nonprofits, and agencies will host virtual and in-person events (where safe to do so) to support Latinx Latino community getting into the outdoors and participating in activities to protect our natural resources. These events are for all ages and typically include hiking, camping, cleanups, and workshops that inspire participants to take part in protecting our land, water, and air and participate in larger conversations around current environmental issues.

How to Participate

This year, participation will take place safely and a lot of it will be online. Every day of the week invites a different call to action and we encourage you to join the conversation by following @LCW_National @HispanicAccess and @LatinoOutdoors on Twitter and @latinoconservationweek @hispanicaccess and @latinooutdoors on IG.

At Heal the Bay, we recognize that social and environmental issues are intrinsically linked. Historical injustices have led to inequitable access to the outdoors for communities of color. Heal the Bay is committed to fighting for environmental justice through our Science, Policy, and Outreach programs.

Currently, Heal the Bay is working to connect Latinx youth to their watersheds and ocean is through Gotitas Del Saber, our new bilingual/Spanish marine conservation educational series. The program includes regularly scheduled Spanish-language virtual webinar for students of all ages about science and the ocean. Join us live or explore past events.

Join us for Gotitas Del Saber

Why It’s Important

Beyond exploring the outdoors, Latino Conservation Week, at its core, is about outdoor connection, education, and cultural expression —and for many US-born Latin American-identifying youth and young adults, it’s a pathway and connection into outdoor advocacy and/or pursuing a degree in STEM through community support and mentorship.

For many Latin Americans, participating in conservation is an act of long-standing connection to nature. It’s a part of cultural preservation that involves nature-based solutions and practices that are deeply rooted in the Latin American cultural expression and identity. Protecting the health of our watershed, fighting for clean air, and protecting robust wildlife habitat is connected to century-old practices and traditions that continue through the enjoyment and protection of our open spaces.

Recent studies show that Hispanics/Latinxs express higher levels of environmental concern and have a higher willingness to engage in climate activism than white Americans, yet Latinos remain largely underrepresented in the environmental sector despite the support of environmental policies and efforts. Nevertheless, Latinx participation in the environmental field and movement is critical to the growth of outdoor equity, solving the climate crisis through science and community solutions, mobilizing communities for environmental justice, and inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards.

 

 



Emely Garcia, our Beach Programs Manager, rounds up some do-it-yourself activities to celebrate Earth Month while continuing to practice physical distancing.

Did you know that 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day? Amidst all of the changes, we are thinking of ways we can celebrate during the entire month of April, and hope you are too.

If you are looking for an impactful activity for you and those in your household to get involved in, we suggest a DIY cleanup and scavenger hunt in your neighborhood. The supplies are minimal, it’s a great way to get some physical activity nearby, and you can leave a spot in your community better than you found it.

I’ve rounded up some tips and instructions for a DIY neighborhood cleanup, a neighborhood scavenger hunt, and more ways to get involved below. Happy Earth Month 2020!

Neighborhood Cleanup

Before Starting Your Cleanup:

1. Gather Materials

  • Cleanup supplies: work gloves to protect your hands and an old bucket or bag to collect trash are the perfect tools for a successful cleanup. Please do not pick up trash if you are not wearing gloves.
  • Protection from the elements: Sun protective gear, such as a hat and sunglasses, and breathable clothing is highly recommended.
  • Activity essentials: Pack a few essentials like a first aid kit, a filled reusable water bottle, and some of your favorite snacks to stay safe and hydrated.
  • Trash tracking tools: Download the Marine Debris Tracker App on your mobile device or print out our Cleanup Data Card and take a pencil to track your finds.

2. Safety First

  • Watch our Cleanup Safety Video or read our Cleanup Safety Talk aloud to your cleanup crew. Have a brief discussion at the end to ensure that everyone understands the safety tips, and what not to pick up. DO NOT pick up medical waste, hazardous waste, gloves, masks, syringes, needles, sharp objects, condoms, tampons, waste materials, etc.
  • Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly once you’ve returned home.
  • Limit your cleanup group participants to only the people in your household to accommodate physical distancing and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you see other people while you are outside, make sure to stay at least 6 feet away. If you or someone in your household feels sick, please stay home.

3. Pick Your Site (please check for park, beach, and trail closures)

  • Adhere to county guidelines and respect closures and find a cleanup site that is accessible for you and everyone in your household and within walking distance from where you live. See the latest status on beach and beach facility closures in LA County.
  • Some of the best cleanup locations could be your neighborhood block, park, creek, or trail with a waste receptacle or trash can nearby.
  • When you find a site, make sure you take a photo before your cleanup effort.
  • Remember that all storm drains lead to out the ocean, and leading a neighborhood cleanup helps prevent ocean-bound trash from ever making its way down the storm drain. That makes you and your loved ones ocean protectors!
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After Your Neighborhood Cleanup:

    • Take photos of your family members getting the job done. 
    • Snap some final photos of what your site looks like after the cleanup.
    • Dump your collected trash at the nearest waste receptacle or trash can, and celebrate your work! 
    • Share your photos and finds by tagging us @healthebay and using the hashtag #healthebay. 
    • Give each other kudos for being a part of an amazing cleanup effort.

 

Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

While this is a fun activity for all ages, we know that the little ones will especially love it. The possibilities for neighborhood scavenger hunts are endless, but here are a few of my favorite ideas for your next neighborhood walk or cleanup together:

Things To Spot

  1. Bicycle
  2. Flowers
  3. Art or a mural 
  4. Stop sign 
  5. Something blue like the ocean or the sky
  6. Out of state license plate 
  7. Songbird
  8. Mailbox 
  9. Tiny bug
  10. Storm drain 

Things To Clean Up

  1. Snack bags or candy wrappers
  2. Cups or lids
  3. Plastic utensils
  4. Cigarette butts
  5. Glass bottles
  6. Aluminum cans
  7. Soda cans
  8. Balloons 
  9. Plastic bags
  10. Plastic pieces 

Things to avoid: sharp objects, heavy objects. If you find something that needs to be picked up by city officials. Call 311 to report bulk items.


More Ways to Get Involved



Emely Garcia, nuestra Gerente de Programas de Playas, resume algunas actividades que podemos hacer para celebrar el Mes de la Tierra mientras continuamos con las  prácticas  de distanciamiento físico.

¿Sabías que 2020 marca el 50 aniversario del Día de la Tierra? En medio de todos los cambios, estamos pensando en todas las formas  que podamos celebrarlo durante todo el mes de abril.

Si estás buscando una actividad impactante para tí y los miembros de tu hogar, te sugerimos una limpieza y un juego de buscar el tesoro en tu vecindario. Los suministros son mínimos, es una excelente manera de realizar alguna actividad física, y puede obtener una comunidad bella y limpia mejor  de la que encontró.

He reunido algunos consejos e instrucciones para una limpieza de vecindario, una búsqueda de tesoro y más formas de involucrarse a continuación. ¡Feliz mes de la Tierra 2020!

Limpieza de barrio

Antes de comenzar tu limpieza:

1. Reúne materiales

  • Suministros de limpieza: guantes de trabajo para proteger tus manos y una cubeta o bolsa para recoger la basura son las herramientas perfectas para una limpieza exitosa. No recojas la basura si no usas guantes.
  • Protección: se recomienda usar equipo de protección solar, como sombreros, gafas de sol, y ropa transpirable.
  • Elementos esenciales: Empacar un botiquín de primeros auxilios, una botella de agua reutilizable llena y algunos de tus refrigerios favoritos para mantenerte seguro e hidratado.
  • Herramientas de rastreo de basura: descarga la aplicación Marine Debris Tracker App en tu dispositivo móvil o imprime nuestra tarjeta de datos de limpieza  Cleanup Data Card y toma un lápiz para rastrear tus hallazgos.

2. Seguridad primero

  • Mira nuestro Video de seguridad de limpieza  Cleanup Safety Video o lee nuestra Seguridad de limpieza  Cleanup Safety. Habla en voz alta con tu equipo de limpieza. Ten una breve discusión al final para asegurarte de que todos entienden los consejos de seguridad y lo que no se debe recoger. NO recojas desechos médicos, desechos peligrosos, guantes, máscaras, jeringas, agujas, objetos punzantes, condones, tampones, materiales de desecho, etc.
  • Asegúrete de lavarte bien las manos una vez que hayas regresado a casa.
  • Limita a los participantes de tu grupo de limpieza solo a las personas de tu hogar para acomodar el distanciamiento físico y ayudar a reducir la propagación de COVID-19. Si ves a otras personas mientras estás afuera, asegúrate de permanecer al menos a 6 pies de distancia. Si tú o alguien en tu hogar se siente enfermo, quédate en casa.

3. Elije tu sitio (verifica el cierre de parques, playas y senderos)

  • Adhiérete a las pautas del condado y respeta los cierres y encuentra un sitio de limpieza que sea accesible para tí y todos los miembros de tu hogar.
  • Algunos de los mejores lugares de limpieza podría ser la cuadra de tu vecindario, parque, arroyo o  sendero con recipientes de basura cercano.
  • Cuando encuentresun sitio, asegúrete de tomar una foto antes de tu limpieza.
  • Recuerda que todos los desagües pluviales conducen al océano, y llevar a cabo una limpieza del vecindario ayuda a evitar que la basura con destino al océano llegue al drenaje pluvial. ¡Eso te convierte a tí y a tus seres queridos en los defensores del océano!
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Después de la limpieza de tu vecindario:

    • Toma fotos de los miembros de tu familia realizando el trabajo.
    • Toma algunas fotos finales de cómo se ve tu sitio después de la limpieza.
    • ¡Tira la basura colectada en el recipiente de basura más cercano y celebra tu trabajo!
    • Comparte tus fotos y hallazgos etiquetándonos @healthebay y usando el hashtag #healthebay.
    • Felicítense por ser parte de un increíble esfuerzo de limpieza.

 

Búsqueda del tesoro del vecindario

Si bien esta es una actividad divertida para todas las edades, sabemos que a los pequeños les encantará. Las posibilidades de búsqueda del tesoro en el vecindario son infinitas, pero estas son algunas de mis ideas favoritas para tu próxima caminata o limpieza del vecindario:

Cosas para detectar

  1. bicicleta
  2. flores
  3. Arte o un mural
  4. Señal de Stop
  5. Algo azul como el océano o el cielo
  6. Placas vehiculares de difernte estado
  7. Pájaros cantores
  8. Buzón
  9. Insectos pequeños
  10. Drenaje pluvial

Cosas para limpiar

  1. Bolsas para refrigerios o envoltorios de dulces
  2. Tazas o tapas
  3. Utensilios plásticos
  4. Colillas de cigarrillo
  5. Botellas de vidrio
  6. Latas de aluminio
  7. Latas de refresco
  8. Globos
  9. Bolsas plásticas
  10. Piezas de plástico

Cosas a evitar: objetos afilados, objetos pesados. Si encuentras algo que debe ser recogido por funcionarios de la ciudad, llama al 311 para informar.


Más formas de involucrarte

  • Conviértete en voluntario de Heal the Bay y asiste a nuestra Orientación virtual para voluntarios Volunteer Orientation en este Mes de la Tierra.
  • Regístrate para nuestras limpiezas de playa beach cleanups este verano.
  • Guarda la fecha Coastal Cleanup Month 2020. 
  • Haz un regalo del Día de la Tierra para mejorar la bahía y dona Donate.