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Heal the Bay Blog

Author: Talia Walsh

Volunteers remove trash at the Arroyo Seco Confluence.

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This year, we celebrated our 30th anniversary as the LA County coordinator for Coastal Cleanup Day. It has been an honor for Heal the Bay to steer this annual event since the 90s, especially with such vibrant community support.

Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay president says, “After 30 years of beach cleanups, we are still picking up tons and tons of trash on Coastal Cleanup Day. That’s frustrating, but the good news is that our work continues to make a difference. We see fewer plastic bags since they were banned in LA County and statewide a few years ago, so we know that changing our habits does make a difference.”

From diving underwater in the Santa Monica Bay to hiking along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River and everywhere in between, 13,914 volunteers removed more than 30,165 pounds of trash — from 79 locations in Los Angeles County, in a span of three-hours — on Coastal Cleanup Day 2019.

The Most Trash:

  1. Agoura Hills/Medea Creek (120 people, 4,500 pounds of trash)
  2. Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve (153 people, 3,358 pounds of trash)
  3. Long Beach – Alamitos Bay Marina (1,226 people, 2,376 pounds of trash)

The Most People:

The location with the most people was Santa Monica State Beach – North of Santa Monica Pier, which clocked in at 1,260 volunteers and 782 pounds of trash.

The Local Heroes:

Overall 229 intrepid divers took journeys at 6 different underwater locations to remove an incredible 1,078 pounds of trash from the ocean.

At the Redondo Beach Pier in King Harbor, Thomas Kruger, head of the Dive Division at Dive N’ Surf and fellow divers Michael Cruz, Cory Alexander and Redondo Beach Police Department officers Jason Sapien and Nolan Beranek took to the waves to uncover and pull a 20-foot, 250-pound industrial ladder out from under the pier.

The ladder required three 50 pound lift bags and a 200 pound lift bag to raise it off the seafloor. This was the biggest and heaviest piece of trash collected in LA at this year’s event.

“More than 13,000 people gave their time and energy to pick up trash today, including hundreds of divers who were our heroes on Coastal Cleanup Day, going to great depths to pick up trash, including tangled fishing lines, dozens of pairs of sunglasses and goggles, a huge industrial ladder and e-scooters. That’s some nasty trash! We so appreciate their help,” remarks Shelley.

The Weirdest Finds:

  • A laptop and electric scooters (underwater in Santa Monica)
  • A 20 foot industrial ladder (underwater in Redondo Beach)
  • Horseshoe (Compton Creek)
  • Cat skull  (South LA)
  • Positive pregnancy test (White Point Beach)
  • Shake weight (Venice)
  • Half a rat (Arroyo Seco Confluence)
  • California King Mattress-sized Styrofoam block  (Arroyo Seco Confluence)

LOCAL TREASURES

We organized 79 sites this year – here’s a deeper look at four incredible locations in Los Angeles County from summit to sea.

San Gabriel River – East Fork

This year, for the first time, the San Gabriel River – East Fork area took part in Coastal Cleanup Day!

From mountain lions and bighorn sheep to the threatened Santa Ana Suckers, this special place in the San Gabriel Mountains is a hotspot for biodiversity. The San Gabriel Mountains were designated as a National Monument in 2014. According to the U.S. Forest Service, “The designation will help ensure these lands remain a benefit for all Americans through rock art that provides a glimpse into ancient civilizations, an observatory that brought the world the cosmos, and thousands of miles of streams, hiking trails and other outdoor recreation opportunities.”

A volunteer, @adventureiscallingme_ tells us, “As a first timer in Coastal Cleanup Day, I’m glad to have been invited by the East Fork’s Golden Preservation and Nature for All Stewards. I was shocked by the amount of trash we found. It was bittersweet helping because of the amount of trash we saw, but also the difference we made together. We’ll be back!”

Other new sites added to LA County’s Coastal Cleanup Day this year included Zuma Beach, Temescal Canyon Park and Rio del Los Angeles. Emely Garcia, Heal the Bay Beach Programs Manager and organizer of Coastal Cleanup Day says, “the new sites are extremely important because they add to the spectrum of representation for unique wild places you can only find in LA.”

Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve

Tucked away in the San Fernando Valley, adjacent to the Santa Monica Mountains, the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area boasts winding, flat trails through the floodplain, marshes and ponds in an expansive recreation, habitat restoration and wildlife area.

On Coastal Cleanup Day, 153 volunteers removed a whopping 3,358 pounds of trash from the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, a refuge for 240 bird species that migrate, nest or live in the area. Kris Ohlenkamp, a resident expert on the endemic and migrating birds of the Sepulveda Basin who works with the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society, says many birds come and go with each season and therefore it’s always an exciting time for bird watching. Kris hosts monthly bird walks in the area, which is also home to local California plants, including Fremont’s cottonwood, Coast live oak, Valley oak and California sycamore.

He shared our concern for the declining bird populations. The number of birds in the United States and Canada has decreased by 3 billion (29 percent) over the past half-century as reported recently in the NY Times. This sobering statistic has put the spotlight on what we can do locally to save the birds. Important actions we must take include protecting and restoring the remaining wildlife areas in our region, which provide habitats for birds and animals.

Arroyo Seco Confluence

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The Arroyo Seco is a major tributary of the LA River; the confluence of the Arroyo Seco and the LA River is historically and culturally significant as it was an area utilized by the Tongva people and others. Today, the confluence’s ecosystem is drastically different; the two channelized waterways are encased in concrete – often mistaken for roads, not the rivers that they are. 

On Coastal Cleanup Day, there were groups from Pasadena City College and CSULA among others and in total 73 volunteers showed up at Arroyo Seco Confluence. Participants cleaned along an access road down to the LA River and in the channels, pulling out over 1,500 pounds of trash, including a potato, half of a dead rat, shopping carts, a Home Depot metal lumber cart and so much plastic and smaller items stuck in river muck and sediment. 

“Nearing the end of the cleanup, I was so impressed to see many of the volunteers really getting adventurous – some were just in sneakers, but fully in the river muck and water, going after that next piece of trash just out of arm’s distance,” recalls Katherine Pease, site captain and Heal the Bay scientist.

Speaking of weird trash, Scouts from Troops 5 and 55 of Pasadena removed a California-King mattress-sized block of Styrofoam from a different part of the Arroyo Seco, near the Rose Bowl. As volunteers carried it up a hill, the foam crumbled apart, so they had a train of followers picking up all the pieces. 

Dockweiler Beach

Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center.  Photo by Venice Paparazzi
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Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler Youth Center. Photo by Venice Paparazzi

One cleanup site, welcoming families with games and good, clean fun, was the Dockweiler Youth Center and State Beach, co-hosted by the Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors and LA Waterkeeper. Together these organizations threw a cleanup party with colorful arts and crafts, raffles and an annual poster contest that wraps ocean-inspired artwork around trash receptacles on public beaches and parks in LA.

“The Dockweiler cleanup drew hundreds of volunteers who affirmatively demonstrated their desire for a better, cleaner coast. The number of young people who participated gave us hope that our future leaders will care deeply for the ocean and our cherished beaches. They understand what must be done and are not afraid to make the needed changes in their daily lives that will lead to healthier, cleaner beaches and oceans – setting a great example and inspiring adults around them,” says Gary Jones, Director of the Department of Beaches and Harbors

SAYING THANKS

Heal the Bay has many to thank – from our statewide organizers to site captains to sponsors to all the partners and organizations that came together to make this day relevant and unique for so many people in LA and beyond.

“Some of the most memorable moments were meeting our new and returning site captains at our site captain trainings. Our 100+ site captain volunteers ranged from 16 to 75 years old; it was inspiring to see everyone engaged in lively conversation and listening to one another,” says Emely.

We’re grateful to get a front-row seat for the moment when so many local environmental all-stars shine!

A special thanks to ALL our Coastal Cleanup Day sponsors:

“We have amazing partners in this work. The Ocean Conservancy coordinates Coastal Cleanup Day all over the world and comes to our Los Angeles event every year, and this year we also had the K-Swiss team here picking up trash and sporting the new Heal the Bay shoes, which are made with recycled plastics and a reduced carbon footprint. We love working with both of these partners, and so many more, to keep our coasts and oceans clean,” Shelley continues.

WHAT’S NEXT

“Our biggest concern today is still all the plastic trash – takeout containers, water bottles and caps, cigarette butts, food wrappers and disposable packaging are everywhere. We have got to reduce the volume of this toxic trash in our waterways and in our daily lives,” states Shelley.

We’re already saving the date for next year’s Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 19, 2020! Sign up for our email alert to stay in the loop.



The California legislative season has officially ended and the transformative waste reduction policies, SB 54 and AB 1080, did not pass. However, they did not fail either! The bills were never voted on, so they are still eligible for votes starting in January 2020 and throughout the 2020 session.

We know this isn’t the news you wanted to hear – and we share your deep disappointment. But, there is always a silver lining, right?

Heal the Bay, along with our Clean Seas Coalition, did make incredible headway this year thanks to the momentum you helped create. Here are three things re-energizing us to keep fighting for plastic reduction policies:

1. The time for us to act is now: Landmark legislation that transforms industry practices can take years to pass. Your voice of support changed the conversation. Now, it’s not a matter of IF we will pass legislation that reduces single-use plastics, it is a matter of WHEN. Representatives and manufacturers heard our message loud and clear: The longer we delay the inevitable push to reduce single-use plastics, the more damage is done to public health and the natural environment.

2. Every bit of progress counts: While we didn’t see this monumental legislation pass, action was taken in California this year to reduce waste. Lawmakers approved multiple recycling and single-use plastic waste reduction bills that are now on the Governor’s desk for signing. AB 54 will provide $5 million to fund a pilot mobile recycling project overseen by CalRecycle. AB 792 includes a requirement that plastic bottles be made of 50% recycled materials by 2030. AB 1162 will curb single-use plastic bottles in the lodging industry. AB 1583 (The California Recycling Market Development Act) is focused on developing and bolstering the state’s recycling market as a response to China’s National Sword Policy. SB 8/AB 1718 will ban smoking in state beaches and parks and combat the number one item we find on beaches at cleanups, cigarette butts. And, earlier this summer, Governor Newsom signed the newly approved AB 619 into law, which allows vendors at concerts and festivals in California to serve food on reusable containers. There is another comprehensive piece of environmental legislation – SB 1 – that protects California from the effects of recent and future environmental protection rollbacks. SB 1 ensures that our state maintains tough standards under the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. We hope to see Governor Newsom sign all of these bills into law!


Trash collected at a Heal the Bay cleanup in 2019. Photo by Marvin Pineda

3. Big change can happen locally: Heal the Bay is zooming in on local regulations and activities that reduce single-use plastics here at home in the Los Angeles region. For example, we’re hoping more communities and cities in Los Angeles will reduce plastic waste by adopting ordinances aimed at tackling single-use and disposable items. Wherever you may be located, we encourage you to attend a city council meeting or a town hall near you and speak during the public comment session about your concerns. When we pass strong policies locally, there is a greater likelihood that the state will take similar action. Check out our FAQs to bust some common myths about passing plastic reduction legislation.

We will continue to push for local and statewide single-use waste reduction to protect our communities and our environment in 2020 and beyond. Thank you to everyone who supported our efforts to combat plastic pollution. From the 410,000+ people who signed our petition to the thousands of people who called their representatives and posted on social media in support of SB 54 and AB 1080, thank you.

 

Finally, thank you to the authors of this legislation, Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, we could not have made it this far without you.



(Photo of Santa Monica Bay taken by Lidia Grande-Ruiz on February 16, 2019.)

Los Angeles decision-makers, and leaders throughout California, announced three major initiatives this February. The moves could dramatically shift our region and state toward a sustainable future.

What a month for our natural environment! And, no, we don’t mean this crazy weather.

Our policy leaders just took a big stand against these notorious environmental offenders: single-use plastics, fossil fuels, and wasted water. Here is the rundown on what action was taken and how it directly impacts the health of our ocean and communities.

1. Solving our pollution crisis by rethinking our waste stream

New legislation has been introduced in California, which tackles single-use waste and pollution at the source! The proposed legislation will push ALL industries to meet California’s single-use waste standards — requiring single-use plastic packaging distributed or sold here to be truly recyclable or compostable by 2030. It also requires industries to decrease single-use disposables by 75 percent through source reduction or recycling.

We are so proud to help California take the lead on reducing single-use waste. Heal the Bay volunteers have removed four million plastic items from our beaches over the last two decades (the most common plastic finds are polystyrene and plastic pieces, wrappers, snack bags, bottle caps, and straws).

While the bills (AB1080 & SB54) are in the early stages of development, we are thrilled to be working on this comprehensive solution that will impact generations to come. Please stay tuned for developments. And thanks to Ben Allen Lorena GonzalezScott Wiener Nancy SkinnerLaura FriedmanPhil Ting and Tasha Boerner Horvath for leading the charge!

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2. Increasing our water supply with a smart plan for wastewater

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant (aka sewage treatment plant), one of the largest in the world, will recycle 100% of the City’s wastewater by the year 2035.

The water will be treated extensively and then put into our local groundwater supply for additional treatment by natural soils. Afterwards, the clean water will be pumped up to replenish our local tap water supply. Hyperion’s capacity is 450 million gallons per day and treated water currently flows out to the ocean. But with full recycling at Hyperion we can re-use that water!

Los Angeles is a big city, and pulls a significant amount of water from the Eastern Sierra and San Francisco Bay-Delta. Our local water use impacts the entire state of California. By taking smart action, we reduce our reliance on far-away water sources and become more self-sufficient.

Back in the 1990s, Heal the Bay won the fight to stop partially-treated sewage flowing from Hyperion into the Santa Monica Bay. Once again, we’re seeing the results of collective action with the new plan to treat and re-use all that water — instead of sending it uselessly to sea. Our founder Dorothy Green would be so proud of L.A. for taking this giant step forward.

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3. Saying farewell to fossil fuels for clean and safe alternatives

Garcetti made another big announcement this month in favor of sustainability. He stated that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has a deadline to close three coastal gas-burning power plants in El Segundo, Long Beach and the Los Angeles Harbor area by 2029. The plants will be replaced by renewable energy sources and storage.

Not only does this drastic change help to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas, it also puts an end to the harmful practice of using ocean water for once-through cooling, which makes sea water more acidic and destroys marine and estuarine life in the process. Nearly 10 years ago, Heal the Bay was instrumental in advancing a policy to address the phase out of once-through cooling at coastal power plants in California. Finally, the tides are a-changin’.

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If you squint out onto the horizon, you’ll see them. Local marine animals are jumping for joy and celebrating a brighter tomorrow.

Thank YOU for your commitment to clean water. We wouldn’t be having these critical conversations about policy without your ongoing support and advocacy.



Heal the Bay is excited to announce its partnership with Coastal Co. and Pledgeling, which recently caught the attention of the NY Times.

As passionate surfers in the Southland, Coastal Co. founders Kevin Tighe II and Mark Healey often see plastic pollution in the water and on the beaches. This year, they decided to take action with their subscription-based, coastal lifestyle startup. As they developed a business plan and launched their new brand, the entrepreneurs made a commitment to a model that would not only promote the surfing culture that they live and breathe, but would also make a positive impact in the world by improving water quality in our oceans.

“Our mission as a company is to deliver the beach life to our members’ doorsteps every season. It’s imperative that we do our part to help protect our oceans and beaches, otherwise, we won’t have much of a beach life to deliver. To accomplish this, wanted to partner with a local non-profit who aligned with our mission and values. Heal the Bay was that perfect partner,” says Kevin Tighe.

A rewarding idea

Once a season, Coastal Co. curates the latest beach-inspired apparel, accessories and lifestyle products which it sends directly to its members’ doorsteps. The special at-home delivery takes a little bit of Cali sunshine a long way to benefit our coastline. Coastal Co. has boxes for both men and women. Each box costs $99 per season and contains over $200 of retail value inside. This Winter, female members will find items such as the limited edition “Sea La Vie” fleece from Alternative Apparel (made specifically for Coastal Co. members), a tropical scented candle from Maui Candle Company, an ethically made beanie from Krochet Kids International, a necklace from Salty Cali jewelry and more. Recent products that could be found in the men’s box include a Nixon Watch, a tee from Drifter Surf Shop in Bali, a flannel from Lira Clothing, a zip-up hoodie from Rhythm apparel and more.

Whenever anyone purchases a Coastal Co. box, proceeds fund Heal the Bay beach cleanups. The partnership funds a couple beach cleanups each month as well as other critical local ocean protection initiatives.

“8 Million tons of plastics are dumped into our oceans each year! If we all do a little, we can do a lot,” states Kevin. “That is why we’ve partnered with Heal the Bay and Pledgeling to help keep our fragile coasts pristine and clean.”

Coastal Co. is also taking steps to remove plastics from their seasonal deliveries while pushing manufacturers and suppliers to consider alternative options that are safer for the environment. In addition to curating non single-use products, the team recycles plastics they receive in the product supply chain before this waste reaches the consumer.

“If we all took one small step forward toward sustainability daily, we’d be much closer to solving our global plastic pollution problems,” says Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay chief. “Heal the Bay is excited to partner with Coastal Co. and Pledgeling because of their long-term commitment to protecting our coast.”

When businesses opt-in to major sustainability initiatives, local community collaboration is key to making an impact. Step in, Pledgeling, a Venice-based tech company that aligns brands with causes around the world to increase their business and achieve a sustainable impact.

“We are excited to bring together two great organizations – Coastal Co. and Heal the Bay – who are committed to truly making a difference. When we can link customers’ purchases to impact that they’re helping to make in the real world, people feel good about the transparency and are more inclined to trust brands that give back to causes they care about,” says James Citron, CEO of Pledgeling.

Heal the Bay Volunteer Giveaway: Win a Winter Box from Coastal Co.

To kick off our partnership, Coastal Co. is giving away a Winter Box (over $200 retail value) PLUS a $50 giftcard from Krochet Kids, a featured brand in the Winter Box! If you’d like to enter the giveaway, please make sure to comment below and follow @healthebay, @coastalcobox & @krochetkids on Instagram. It’s free to enter, but you have to be 18 or older. The winner will be selected on December 21.

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GIVEAWAY TIME for a December Aloha Friday! Today, we’re excited to introduce our new non-profit partner, @healthebay! Proceeds from Coastal Co. will fund monthly beach cleanups hosted and organized by Heal The Bay. Let’s work together to keep our coasts pristine and clean! 🏝 To celebrate the launch of our new partnership, we’re giving away a Winter Box (over $200 retail value) PLUS a $50 giftcard from @krochetkids, a featured brand in the Winter Box! If you’d like to enter the giveaway, please make sure to: • Follow @healthebay, @coastalcobox & @krochetkids • Tag three ocean lovers •The winner will be selected on December 21st! Good luck! 🌊💙 #beacheveryday #alohafridaygiveaway 📸: @richardpodjr

A post shared by Coastal Co. (@coastalcobox) on


If this partnership inspires you and you’re interested in doing something similar with Heal the Bay. Please contact Logan on our Advancement team.



L.A.’s wildlife is taking over just in time for the midterm elections. In this critical vote on November 6, L.A. County voters will decide on candidates, propositions and measures. There’s one item on the ballot that will directly impact local ocean wildlife and a thriving ocean: Measure W!

Check out our new series of Snapchat Lenses created by @wrld.space, inspired by underwater animals found right off the SoCal coast.

Spread the word with a Snap.

Dolphins popping out of your reusable water bottles, a whale hovering over the I-405 freeway, jellies joining you at the gym…the possibilities are endless! Remember, no matter what we do, no matter where we do it – we all are connected to the ocean.

Unlock Snapcodes:

Scan the Snapcode or follow the link to unlock each Lens and start Snappin’. Learn more.

heal the bay snapchat lens whale
🐋Whale

heal the bay snapchat lens jellies
🎐Jellies

heal the bay snapchat lens dolphin
🐬Dolphin



Big news today from City Hall. Single-use plastic straws may be phased out of Los Angeles restaurants and food establishments by 2021.

L.A. City Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Nury Martinez announced the citywide Straws-on-Request initiative.

“Straws on request is another step by the L.A. City Council to remove more trash from our waste-stream, a waste-stream that currently and historically flows through the communities I represent,” said Martinez.

According to City Hall’s press release, “During the Energy, Environment, and Social Justice Committee  on Tuesday afternoon, O’Farrell instructed the Bureau of Sanitation to report back within 90 days regarding the feasibility of phasing out single-use plastic straws by 2021, and instructed Sanitation to work with the Department of Disability on methods and approaches to mitigate impacts to the disabled community associated with the phase out.”

“Plastic straws endanger our marine wildlife and they foul our lakes, streams, and rivers,” said O’Farrell. “With our economy of scale here in L.A. and a phase out, all businesses and manufacturers can join the initiative and pioneer low cost, biodegradable, disposable products.”

Heal the Bay’s ceo Shelley Luce spoke at the press conference about protecting L.A. for future generations.

“Since 2000, Heal the Bay volunteers have picked up over 121,000 straws and stirrers from Los Angeles County beaches,” said Luce. “It’s heartening to see businesses recognizing the problem and becoming part of solution.”

The Mon-straw-city made unsightly appearances in DTLA and at City Hall. Shout out to Danielle Furuichi, Heal the Bay Programs Coordinator, for rocking the straw-suit. And a special thank you to Susan Lang, Super Healer volunteer, for designing this upcycled trash costume made from 1,750 single-use plastic straws that were picked up at beach cleanups by Heal the Bay volunteers.

Stay tuned for more updates at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Take the pledge to stop sucking at LAsucks.org.



Talia Walsh, Heal the Bay communications associate director, shares this year’s preliminary list of beach trash finds in Los Angeles, California.

Coastal Cleanup Day is an annual community volunteering effort that reveals insights about the nature of ocean pollution. The 2018 Coastal Cleanup Day event in L.A. County brought together 13,464 individuals who removed over 29.8 tons of ocean-bound trash from 78 cleanup sites in 3 hours. These piles of trash tell a compelling story.

Gleaning early results reported anecdotally by Heal the Bay’s cleanup captains and volunteers, here are this year’s most common — and weirdest — hand-picked beach trash finds in L.A.:

Beach Trash Finds in Emoji:

  1. 🥤 Plastics:  Single-use drink & food containers, Polystyrene, Tiny plastic pieces
  2. 🚬 Smoking-Related:  Cigarette butts, Lighters, Cannabis packaging
  3. ♻️ Recyclables: Glass, Paper, Metal
  4. 💉 Medical and Hygiene:  Syringes, Condoms, Diapers
  5. 💩 Feces:  Humans, Pets, Unknown
  6. 💊 Drugs:  Pipes, Powders, Pills
  7. 🎣 Fishing Gear: Traps, Hooks, Nets
  8. 🚗 Automobile Parts:  Frames, Engines, Tires
  9. 📱 Lost & Found:  Wedding Rings, Watches, Phones
  10. 👟 Shoes:  Sandals, Sneakers, Wedges
  11. 🏄🏻 Broken Boards: Surfboards, Paddleboards, Boogie boards
  12. 💼 Suitcases: Wardrobe change, please!
  13. 🔋 e-Waste: Cords, Parts, Batteries
  14.  🗡️ Weapons: Bullets, Shivs, Knives
  15. 🛴 Electric Scooters: Underwater e-scooter hunt, anyone?

Looking at the above list, it seems we need to rapidly evolve our manner of thinking about product design and usability to combat rising ocean pollution. Here are some ways to start getting involved locally:

Coastal Cleanup Day is one of 735 cleanups Heal the Bay hosts a year. Check out our Marine Debris Database that houses information for 4 million pieces of trash collected by Heal the Bay volunteers in Los Angeles County. See the latest water quality updates for your favorite beach by installing our new Beach Report Card app for iOS or Android — and — visit the website at beachreportcard.org for the latest grades.


View L.A. County’s results from Coastal Cleanup Day 2018


View California’s results from Coastal Cleanup Day 2018


Take Part

Check out our next beach cleanup in L.A. County! Stay tuned for the full International Report for Coastal Cleanup Day to be released in the coming months. And sign up to receive a Registration Alert for Coastal Cleanup Day 2019.

 



Looking for a good read this summer? Talia Walsh, Heal the Bay’s Associate Director of Communications, has a new book recommendation just for you!

Children’s doctor, immigrant and mom, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha captured national attention as the whistleblower for the Flint Water Crisis. In her new book titled, “What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City”, she opens up about today’s public and environmental health issues reverberating in cities across America.

From the front lines of Flint, Michigan, Dr. Mona’s story inspires and challenges us to better understand adversity in our communities. She urges each one of us, who has had the privilege of realizing the American Dream, to pass it forward to the next generation.

Ahead of Dr. Mona’s visit to Los Angeles on July 11 at the ALOUD event, we caught up with her about the new book — a must-have on your summer reading list.

HTB: You’ve remained FOCUSED and you’ve kept our attention on the Flint Water Crisis. This is no easy feat in today’s 24/7 news cycle. How do you stay focused?

DR. MONA: The kids that I care for absolutely ground me every day. They remind me what this work is about. It’s easy to get angry, its easy to get jaded, it’s easy to point fingers. But, when your mission is protecting the future of children, that is what enables me to keep my focus, and to fight in a science-driven way for what is right for them.

Heal the Bay: What’s the biggest takeaway lesson from your Flint Water Crisis experience?

DR. MONA: Flint is not an isolated story. There are the same crises happening in cities all across our nation. From issues with democracy and environmental injustice, to austerity, the breakdown of infrastructure and the neglect for children. The biggest takeaway lesson from Flint was that we opened our eyes and we said, this is not how it should be and we can make a change. You have the power and you have a role to stand up for your environment and our children.

HTB: Immigration is a big theme in your new book. As a child, you immigrated to this country from Iraq with your parents. What words of encouragement do you have for immigrant families facing adversity today?

DR. MONA: What’s happening in our nation today touches me on so many levels. As a pediatrician, it is disturbing. I know the consequences of trauma. From facing difficult situations to being separated from family to being discriminated against once in this country. Those traumas, from a medical and behavioral health perspective, impact children for their life-course trajectories.

I wrote this book, not only to share the lessons of Flint, not only to inspire folks to be active, to resist, and to work to better their communities. But, it was also the intent to share positive immigrant stories, especially of Arab-Americans, who we were going to ban from this country and who we only associate with war and terrorism. 

As an immigrant, as a kid who came to this country when I was four… by and large, I was welcomed with open arms. I grew up very confident and competent. That is not happening right now. Ultimately, besides the native people, we are a nation of immigrants. If those doors were closed to me when I was four, you wonder what we are missing out on in this nation because of folks who no longer come here for that opportunity, for that freedom. So as an immigrant it’s also disturbing. And then, as a mom, as a parent, it’s heartbreaking, especially with the separations.

This book is a fast-paced story about what happened in Flint. It’s also a memoir.

To understand my role in this crisis, you have to understand where I came from and who I am… the lens through which I see the world. And [the topic of immigration] probably would not have been as big in this book, if it were not for the last election.

HTB: With all of this going on today in the U.S. and from your experience on a hyper-local level in Flint, is the AMERICAN DREAM still alive for you?

DR. MONA: The American Dream was what we came for, me and my family, in 1980. It was absolutely realized for me and my family. We reaped the American Dream. My parents came here with nothing besides their education. They worked hard. They sent their kids to public schools and received a great education. We are a consequence of the American Dream. But, that is being closed on folks. Not only for incoming immigrants, but also for my kids in Flint.

My kids in Flint — it’s like two Americas — they wake up to a nightmare.

Even before the water crisis, it has been a nightmare for kids in Flint and kids throughout our country who live with so many toxicities. Not only the toxicity of contaminated water, but the toxicity of poverty, violence, crumbling schools, discrimination, racism and all of the other adversities that impact them. In places like Flint, just like many others in this country, the zip code you are born in predicts your life-course trajectory. It is hard to change your situation in life when you have so much adversity piled up against you. [These kids] don’t have access to the American Dream like I did.

HTB: Do you think democracy can ever be restored in Flint, especially for the African-American community who were disproportionally impacted by the Flint Water Crisis?

DR. MONA: Flint is an extreme example where democracy was usurped. The city was under state-appointed emergency management. At one point in 2013, half of African-Americans in Michigan were under emergency management, as compared to 2% of Whites. Grossly undemocratic, no accountability, no role for elected officials. But, this is similar to other issues in this country in regards to lack of democracy. Look what’s happening with gerrymandering, voter disenfranchisement, mass incarceration. We are shifting populations and we are minimizing the voice of certain people.

Going back to Flint, the power of the local officials has been restored. The Mayor does have power back. But the city was starved for so long, it’s hard to be fully functioning when your capacity was so limited. You know, it will take a long time to be a functioning democracy.

HTB: When you started this journey in Flint, who were your LOCAL ALLIES to get things done?

DR. MONA: One of the reasons I did not want to write this book was that this story is NOT about me! This story is about a team. It took a team of folks — a random, diverse group of professionals that all came together for the same cause. It was moms, activists, pastors, local faith-based organizations, nonprofits, the ACLU, the EPA, a water scientist from Virginia, my girlfriend who works at a nonprofit water group. It was a mix of folks that opened up their eyes together to uncover this story. That is such an important lesson.

So often in our work, whatever our work may be, we are very siloed. We only work with people who do the exact same thing that we do. And we don’t realize the other solutions out there in different disciplines, from people who look different than us, who live somewhere else and who vote different than us, yet who also care about the same things. The beauty is being able to find that village and come together.

HTB: What about the ratepayers, the consumers of the water themselves. How do they stay informed about local water issues?

DR. MONA: It’s hard. The people of Flint have been heroic. They were the first to raise the alarm bells. Amazing moms and activists who pushed every button and started the domino effect of uncovering this crisis. There are folks in Flint that suffer from incredible obstacles to information and access. We have a 60% poverty rate for our children… huge transportation issues, literacy issues… there are so many obstacles associated with poverty that have made communication and information-sharing quite difficult.

That’s why things in Flint are always done at the grassroots level.

The folks who go door-to-door are your neighbors; they are the ones helping with the water filter installation and the maintenance.

HTB: In Los Angeles County, there are many GRASSROOTS efforts. What words of wisdom do you have for grassroots leaders and clean water advocates here in L.A.?

DR. MONA: One of the reasons I wrote this book is to be an inspiring call to action. [This book] is about the people, places and problems that we choose not to see. We all have to open our eyes. When we work together we can tap into this incredible power that is within all of us to create change. There couldn’t be a more timely moment to share that message with what is happening in our nation—where there is an incredible need for ongoing activism and informed communities.

Buy the book

Meet the author on July 11


A Quick Refresher on the Flint Water Crisis

Before Flint, Michigan realized its water crisis in 2014, the city was nearing bankruptcy and took a series of deliberate actions to cut costs. When Governor Rick Snyder declared an emergency in the state, he removed a swath of elected government positions and appointed “emergency managers” into these roles. His swift move created the conditions for a murky view into local public policy.

As if losing the right to vote and access to public information was not enough a blow to overcome, community members in Flint had no say when state-appointed emergency managers hastily switched the drinking water source and treatment policy.

In a temporary plan to save the city of Flint money, emergency managers claimed they could cut costs by sourcing water from the Flint River instead of the Great Lakes. The new plan did not include sufficient water treatment procedures like corrosion control, a method to avoid lead leaching into the water, which is outlined in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. As a direct result, nearly 100,000 Flint residents were exposed to lead and harmful bacteria.

When the community began complaining about the condition of the water coming out of their taps, they were not getting any straight answers from city officials. Flint residents were left defenseless — their ability to vote and hold local officials accountable had been taken away by the Governor. They were cut off from critical information. Yet they persevered.

Community heroes like Dr. Mona began to listen, connect the dots and speak up.

Today the water in Flint, Michigan still needs to be filtered or residents must use bottled water. But, conditions are improving and there is a big plan underway to replace all of the corroded lead pipes in the region. Some justice is also being served. Over a dozen individuals and water infrastructure firms involved in the Flint Water Crisis are currently being investigated for felony and misdemeanor criminal charges, including negligent homicide, conspiracy and misconduct in office.

If Dr. Mona and other water warriors did not turn their knowledge into action, if they did not use their chorus of voices to create a platform for change, it’s unclear how long the Flint community would have suffered from lead poisoning and exposure to other harmful toxins.



As Strawless Summer comes to a close, Heal the Bay would like to thank all of our partners and community advocates for making this campaign possible.

In America, food and drinks are routinely served with a side of plastic.

One coffee comes with a cup, sleeve, lid, stirrer, straw, sugar packet and cream. A breakfast burrito includes a wrap, container, salsa, utensils and bag. But just because it’s always on the menu, doesn’t mean we have to order it.

If you’ve been to one of our beach cleanups in greater Los Angeles, you don’t need crazy stats to shock you – like an estimated 500 million plastic straws being used in the U.S. every day1. You’ve seen our pollution challenges first-hand. In fact, around 40% of the trash found in the environment is beverage-related2, and single-use plastic straws are one of our most commonly found items at cleanups.

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“No straw, thank you”.

This simple statement, echoed by patrons in restaurants, bars, coffee shops and to-go eateries, is the murmur of a movement aimed at combating the single-use plastic convenience craze.

Earlier this year, Heal the Bay joined the straws-upon-request movement and launched the Strawless Summer campaign to raise awareness and reduce unneccessary plastic straw usage in Los Angeles County.

Here are a few highlights:

“Straws Upon Request”

We’ve come to expect plastic straws available at dispensers, tossed on our tables and placed in our drinks without asking for them first. What would happen if we turned the tables? This is what we aimed to address in our “Straws Upon Request” Study.

During Strawless Summer, we partnered with three local Santa Monica establishments (Pono Burger, The Misfit, Ingo’s Tasty Diner) to pilot a 4-week program aimed at reducing plastic straw distribution. Patrons wouldn’t be given straws by waitstaff unless they asked for them, in the same way customers must ask for glasses of water during the drought.

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Did people totally freak out? No. Was it easy to implement? Yes. Did it earn the businesses major goodwill with some locals? Yep, it most certainly did.

If patrons asked for straws (one restaurant said this happened about half the time), the waitstaff explained their absence from the experience was part of a local effort to be more green. Then, the restaurant offered paper or plastic straws. If folks needed a plastic straw, they could have access to one. But for folks who didn’t need or want them, the single-use plastic straw was absent from the table.

“We chose to participate in a Strawless Summer because it is great for the environment and the Bay. We are a locals restaurant and have a huge locals following a lot of whom spend a good amount of time in the Bay [and] ocean,” said one restaurant manager who participated in the study.

See more local establishments who pledged to go straws upon request during Strawless Summer.

MonSTRAWsity Hits Home

Here’s a frightening truth: the average American family uses 1,752 straws in a year3. To visualize this fact, we collected plastic straws at our coastline cleanups and pieced together the MonSTRAWsity, whose suit is made out of… 1,752 straws. The MonSTRAWsity spent the summer wreaking havoc on the Santa Monica Pier near the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, in the South Bay and all over Los Angeles. By the end of Summer, the MonSTRAWsity was even surfing the airwaves.

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The Sipping Point

It’s estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by weight. Another study shows microscopic plastic fibers are being detected in 83% of drinking water worldwide and a whopping 94% of U.S. tap water4. Microplastics are even showing up in table salt, according to new research.

Heal the Bay’s Nothin’ But Sand, Adopt-a-Beach and Suits on the Sand cleanup volunteers together have collected close to 13,000 plastic straws and stirrers5 from L.A. County beaches in 2017 alone.

Local inaction is our own worst enemy; however, on the flip side, local action is our best opportunity. Heal the Bay will continue to work with businesses, environmental partners and local municipalities to curb the proliferation of single-use plastic pollution, including advancing safe alternatives to single-use plastic straws and only providing straws upon request.

L.A. doesn’t have to suck. Let’s rethink the drink and stop the alarming plastic pollution trends from continuing to increase.

Learn more about the benefits of skipping the straw at LASucks.org

Looking for something fun to share? Download this amazing poster below created by illustrator Daniela Garreton – please make sure to give her credit for this masterpiece. (Download).

Our Strawless Summer 2017 campaign would not be possible without these local water warriors: Thank you to Mick and the team at ZehnerGroup, Susan Lang (creator of the MonSTRAWsity and Heal the Bay volunteer extraordinaire), Andrea Maguire and the STRAWS documentary team, SoHo House Malibu, All At Once, Jack Johnson and the Ohana Foundation, Lonely Whale Foundation, 5 Gyres Institute, Klean Kanteen, Simone Boyce and KTLA 5, and all the awesome local businesses who pledged to go Strawless or “Straws Upon Request”, we salute you!

Special shout outs to these local businesses for their participation in Strawless Summer:

Pono Burger, The Misfit, Ingo’s Tasty Diner, Bareburger Organic, Laurel Tavern, Hermosa Beach Fish Shop, Beckers Bakery & Deli, Brother’s BurritosTallulas and Watermans Safehouse

Sources:
1. “The Be Straw Free Campaign”. National Park Service Commercial Services. (Last update 11/26/2013) https://www.nps.gov/commercialservices/greenline_straw_free.htm
2. Plastics BAN List. Publication. 5 Gyres, Clean Production Action, Surfrider Foundation, USTREAM. 2016. http://d3583ivmhhw2le.cloudfront.net/images/uploads/publications/PlasticsBANList2016.pdf
3. “The Be Straw Free Campaign”. National Park Service Commercial Services. (Last update 11/26/2013) https://www.nps.gov/commercialservices/greenline_straw_free.htm
4. “New Research Shows Plastic Fibers in Drinking Water”. Plastic Pollution Coalition. (published 9/6/2017) http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/pft/2017/9/6/microfibers-the-plastic-inside-us
5. Heal the Bay’s Marine Debris Database. (data pulled from 1/1/2017-9/21/2017) http://sites.healthebay.org/MarineDebris/MDDB/



Summer is coming to an end, but our #StrawlessSummer Campaign is a pledge you can keep all year round.

We are thrilled to be joined by local businesses like Pono Burger, The Misfit, Ingo’s Tasty Diner, Bareburger Organic, Laurel Tavern, Hermosa Beach Fish Shop, Beckers Bakery & Deli, Brother’s BurritosTallulas and Watermans Safehouse for our “Straws-Upon-Request” campaign. These businesses are leading the way to change consumer behavior across our region.

It’s estimated that Americans use roughly 500 million plastic straws daily – that’s enough to fill up 125 school buses and to wrap around the planet 2.5 times. Because they aren’t readily recyclable, most plastic straws end up in landfills, and the rest wind up polluting the environment. Plastic pollution is a major problem, in fact it’s estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea by mass than fish. Skipping the straw is an easy way to make a big difference.

L.A. sucks at times, but we don’t have to! We just launched our new campaign microsite (thanks ZEHNERGROUP). You can take the pledge to go strawless, catch up on the latest straw-related news, share with your friends and find out which local restaurants and bars are going straws-upon-request. If you don’t need a plastic straw, don’t use one! Learn more at lasucks.org.