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Heal the Bay Blog

Reasons to go to the beach

The perfect spot for a beautiful walk, throwing a frisbee, de-stressing, digging your toes in the sand, volunteering, and much, much more. With warm weather on the way (and the beach just a Metro ride away) there are plenty of reasons to go to the beach – check out our list of things to do below!

 

1. For a relaxation day

 

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2. For the fresh air

 

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3. To foster a love of the ocean in your kids

 

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4. To soak up the sunshine

 

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5. To get a workout in

 

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6. For family time

 

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7. For some great beach games

 

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8. To take a mental break

 

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9. To do some people watching

 

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10. For a fun day with the kids

 

11. To spend quality time with friends

 

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12. To surf

 

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13. To take cute photos galore

 

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14. To play in the waves

 

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15. To listen to the waves

 

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16. To explore and reconnect with nature

 

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17. For the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets

 

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18. 2 words: dog beaches

 

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19. For a date

 

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20. To hang out by the Santa Monica Pier

 

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21. To get in the mood for summer!

 

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To all our beach-lovers out there: we’ve created a new app to help you decide which beach is the safest and healthiest to go to!

We believe that no one should get sick from a day at the beach. But, it’s hard to keep track of how the rains, currents, and pollution affect your favorite beach spot. That’s why we’ve created our simple, yet comprehensive Beach Report Card with NowCast. It gives you the latest water quality ratings of beaches all along the West Coast.

So we’ll leave choosing a reason to go to the beach up to you, but we’ve got your back on picking which is the safest for you, your family, and your friends.



California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act,

So, you heard California wants to eliminate single-use plastics? Here’s what you need to know and how you can help. Ready to take action? Urge our representatives to pass new policies by signing the Plastic Petition.

The California Senate and Assembly introduced two bills earlier this year that plan to drastically reduce plastic pollution. These bills are Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080 and are referred to as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.

California is not alone in this endeavor to address single-use plastic at the source. Cities, nations and even the entire European Union have passed similar legislation. What do we know about these brand new bills, and what does the potential policy shift mean for California and the U.S.?

Here are some common questions and misconceptions about this important legislation.

I heard California is going to ban all plastic! Is that true?

The proposed legislation in California isn’t going to ban all plastic. Instead, the policies would set goals for the reduction of single-use disposable products and packaging, including plastics. By 2030, 75 percent of all single-use plastic packaging and products sold or distributed in California would need to be reduced, recycled or composted. After 2030, all single-use packaging and products must be effectively recyclable or compostable. As part of the shift toward a circular economy, the bills also instruct CalRecycle to develop incentives and policies to encourage in-state manufacturing using recycled material generated in California.

These targets would work similarly to California’s greenhouse gas emissions standards passed last year, which set a goal to move towards 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The target was set and a plan will be developed to meet that target. Think of these plastics bills as a bold vision, with a specific plan to come later. Read the fine print.

What about recycling? Isn’t that important?

Yes, but, recycling as it exists today won’t solve the plastic pollution problem on its own.

Recycling is an important part of the puzzle, especially in the aftermath of China’s recently passed National Sword Policy that prohibits the United States from exporting our recyclables to China. India is quickly following suit, too. And we don’t blame them; it’s our dirty trash after all, and the United States needs a real plan to deal with it.

One of the key components of California’s bills is the standardized definition of what makes an item “recyclable”. For an item to be considered “recyclable”, it not only has to meet strict material requirements, but there also must be infrastructure in place that will ensure the proper recycling of that item, such as curbside pick-up and accessible recycling facilities.

It’s not enough for an item to be able to be recycled or composted, it has to actually happen.

Okay, so recycling is covered, but what about composting?

Just like recycling, these bills will create strict definitions and standardizations for compostable items. This clause will ensure environmental benefit by taking already defined standardizations such as “marine degradable” into account. As with recycling, the bill goes another step further and requires that items are actually being composted at proper facilities to earn the title of “compostable”.

Speaking of composting, what about compostable plastics? I heard those are okay to use!

Excellent question. It’s important to note that, although they sound sustainable, compostable plastics are not a good alternative. Compostable plastics may have benefits in the durable product world; however, they pose another set of issues for single-use products. They do not degrade in aquatic environments and require industrial composting facilities to break down, which we don’t currently have as part of the waste management infrastructure in greater L.A. The legislation being introduced in California will work to increase this infrastructure in L.A. and throughout the state so that all compostable items are being properly composted, helping to “close the loop”.

Wait, what does “close the loop” mean, and how is that related to a “Circular Economy”?

Right now, our global economies operate on what we call a “linear” system. We extract resources, produce products, and then discard the waste, known as “take-make-dispose”. Very little of those extracted resources are looped back into the economy to create new products, mostly due to cost and lack of infrastructure. A “circular economy” is the opposite system, where the raw materials used to make products are recovered to make new ones, with little to no waste. The process of moving from a linear system to a circular one is commonly referred to as “closing the loop”, and would drastically reduce our global waste and plastic pollution crisis by reducing the amount of waste we create. It’s sustainability at its simplest!

Didn’t Europe do something like this, too? Is California’s bill the same?

The European Union passed the EU Directive on Single-Use Plastics and Fishing Gear, a comprehensive plan to drastically reduce plastic pollution through a variety of different approaches. Sounds similar so far, but this directive is a bit different than what we have proposed here in the Golden State. Firstly, the main goal of this directive was to reduce plastic pollution, not necessarily reduce single-use plastics at the source. Secondly, the bill targets 10 very specific items that are most commonly found on European beaches based on beach cleanup data. Each item is then assigned one or more approaches, such as market restriction measures (an outright ban) or producer responsibility schemes (charging the maker of the product with the costs of cleaning it up). On the flip side, California is aiming to set broad plastic reduction targets, instead of focusing on specific items.

Hasn’t this already happened in some cities in California?

Sure has! We have seen the passing of comprehensive single-use plastics legislation in Berkeley, Santa Monica, and Manhattan Beach. There have also been strong plastics ordinances passed all over the state that focus on everything from single-use plastic straws to plastic foam to-go containers. A statewide act will help to strengthen already existing local legislation and give the rest of the state the incentive it needs to reduce its waste.

I’m on board! What can I do to help get this legislation passed?

We are stoked to hear you want to help! Throughout the next year, these new bills will be heard by multiple committees and by the state houses. Both bills have already moved through their first committee hearing and passed!

Now, the best thing you can do is let your state representatives know you support these bills. Sign our Plastic Petition urging the California Senate and Assembly to fast-track the approval of the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act. Call, email or write a letter to your representatives and let them know about these bills and why you support this proposed legislation. Find your representative.

And if you live in the City of Los Angeles, please contact your City Council Member and tell them you support this State legislation and want to see something similar in the City of L.A. There is some movement at the City of L.A. to enact similar legislation, but we need more voices to push it along.

Lastly, take the Plastic Pledge and spread the word! The more support this legislation gets from local communities, businesses, organizations, and people like you, the more likely it will be passed. Raise your voice and stay tuned for updates.



Plastic Pollution Reduction - Heal the Bay

Earth Day is April 22, and we’re celebrating all month! You can take part in our Earth Month extravaganza by taking the Plastic Pledge, signing the Plastic Petition in favor of comprehensive environmental policies in California that drastically reduce plastic pollution, and attending one (or all!) of our special events in greater Los Angeles. Here’s a snapshot look at one of our biggest issues facing our oceans and waterways – and what you can do this month (and year-round) to make a difference.

Take the Plastic Pledge

It’s estimated that there will be more plastic by mass than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050. This Earth Month, Heal the Bay is launching the Plastic Pledge campaign. You can get started today by refusing single-use plastic and replacing one product or service with a safer and cleaner alternative.

Here’s how it works in 3 simple steps:

1. Complete this statement:  I Pledge to ________ during Earth Month.

Here are some sample Plastic Pledges from the Heal the Bay team:

  • I Pledge to shop local instead of buying from Amazon during Earth Month.
  • I Pledge to drink from a reusable cup during Earth Month.
  • I Pledge to carry a reusable shopping bag during Earth Month.
  • I Pledge to use metal straws only during Earth Month.

2. Make it known:

Download this template, customize it, and share it on social media! Tag us @healthebay and use #healthebay!

3. Tell the full story:

Once you make the Plastic Pledge, how easy was it to keep? Making a personal shift away from single-use plastic isn’t simple. Transportation, budget, and a lack of access to equitable choices can get in the way of our willingness to opt for the better alternative. So, there is no shame in failing – in fact, it’s totally OK to fail. That is part of the process, right?! If you fail, tell the full story in your social media post. Did your sandwich shop refuse to fill your reusable cup (call ‘em out!)? If you are able to succeed in your Plastic Pledge, acknowledge why you were successful by recognizing the resources and privileges you have access to that helped you succeed. Does your gym provide accessible water refill stations for your bottle (give them a shout out!)?


The Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors and Heal the Bay collaborate during National Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler State Beach. The event included cleaning up the beach, family-friendly activities, and a chance to enter the Can the Trash! Clean Beach Poster Contest. All Rights Reserved. No Commercial Use. Credit: Los Angeles County
Photo Credit: Mayra Vasquez, Los Angeles County

Sign the Plastic Petition

We are asking Californians to sign the Plastic Petition in support of State Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080, known formally as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Acts. The two statewide bills were recently introduced to drastically reduce plastic pollution. Read our FAQs here to learn more about the legislation and ways to get involved in addition to signing the petition.

Sign the Plastic Petition


The Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors and Heal the Bay collaborate during National Coastal Cleanup Day at Dockweiler State Beach. The event included cleaning up the beach, family-friendly activities, and a chance to enter the Can the Trash! Clean Beach Poster Contest. All Rights Reserved. No Commercial Use. Credit: Los Angeles County
Photo Credit: Mayra Vasquez, Los Angeles County

Attend a Special Event

Take part in community science, volunteer to clean up our communities, and celebrate with us at a special event during Earth Month. Whether it’s celebrating Earth Day with 100’s of local animal and wildlife species at Heal the Bay’s Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier, or sipping on Heal the Bay IPA at our Earth Day Pop Up with Golden Road, we’ve got you covered with fun events and opportunities to give back all month.

View Earth Month Events


Become a Sustainer

Make a lasting gift in support of science-based education, advocacy, and community outreach in honor of Earth Month. Your generous monthly support of $9 starting this Earth Month sustains the health and growth of Heal the Bay, and ensures that L.A.’s water remains healthy, safe, and clean.

Make a $9 Gift for Earth Month

 



Heal the Bay community

From community science to clean water, volunteers are needed to protect our natural environment.

We’re announcing our Earth Month 2019 calendar with hands-on events and volunteer opportunities, happening in Los Angeles County throughout the month of April. Our special Earth Month event series celebrates, protects, and improves our neighborhoods, coastal waters, rivers, creeks, and beaches in Los Angeles County. We expect thousands of participants throughout the month. Individuals, families, schools, businesses, and community organizations are all invited to attend the following events. No special training or experience is required. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged at healthebay.org/earthmonth!

In addition to the Earth Month event series, Heal the Bay is asking Californians to reduce plastic pollution by taking the Plastic Pledge and signing the Plastic Petition in support of State Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080, known formally as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Acts.

Volunteer Orientation at Heal the Bay’s Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier
Monday, April 8 @ 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Heal the Bay will host a special Volunteer Orientation during Earth Month to discuss engagement opportunities and policy initiatives. This orientation is ideal for those curious about local volunteer programs, but are unsure about which best fits their needs.

Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s Venice Beach
Tuesday, April 9 @ Noon – 8pm
Heal the Bay is celebrating Free Cone Day with Ben & Jerry’s Venice Beach. FREE cones of ice cream will be given out while supplies last. Meet some of the Heal the Bay team while you visit the Ben & Jerry’s Venice Beach location – and feel free to pass on the love with a small donation to Heal the Bay. Ben & Jerry’s Venice Beach will also start eliminating single-use plastics in their business by switching to wooden spoons and paper straws.

Beach Cleanup north of the Santa Monica Pier
Saturday, April 20, 10am – Noon
Last April, 1,000 volunteers picked up 183 pounds of trash and debris that would have otherwise entered our ocean. We hope to better those totals this year at our big public cleanup north of the Santa Monica Pier. Cleanup participants earn same-day free admission to Heal the Bay’s Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier. *This event is now SOLD OUT! What does this mean? We’ve run out of supplies, so you need to bring your own gloves and buckets to participate in the cleanup.)

Heal the Bay x Golden Road Art Pop Up Art Gallery at the Rose Room in Venice (21+ event)
Saturday, April 20, Noon – 10pm
Taste Heal the Bay IPA and the brand new Hazy Heal the Bay draught at our 2nd Annual Earth Day Art Gallery Pop Up with Golden Road Brewing. Golden Road Brewing, maker of the Heal the Bay IPA, is hosting the second annual Heal the Bay Pop Up on Saturday, April 20 at The Rose Room in Venice. Golden Road Brewing started brewing Heal the Bay IPA in March 2014, with a percentage of every barrel sold supporting Heal the Bay’s work. Stop by to taste the Heal the Bay IPA beer and the new Hazy draught and see exhibiting local artists.

Earth Day Celebration at Heal the Bay’s Aquarium
Saturday, April 20, 11am – 5pm
Heal the Bay’s award-swimming Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier has programmed a day filled with fun activities for all ages. Families can experience the Santa Monica Bay and see all the local animals without getting their feet wet. Short film screenings, Earth Day-themed story time, live animal presentations, face painting, and an eco-themed crafts station will round out the celebration in the Aquarium. In addition, visitors who walk to the west end of the Santa Monica Pier will find a wildlife station stocked with binoculars and bird identification guides.

We are also launching a special virtual exhibit on Earth Day 2019 — a 360-degree exploration of marine protected areas off Catalina Island in California. You’ll be able to wear some special goggles and take a virtual dive under the Pacific Ocean. If you’re lucky you might even come face-to-face with a giant sea bass, a rare and endangered denizen of the deep.

TrashBlitz L.A. in San Pedro
Starts on Saturday, April 20, 10am – Noon
The inaugural TrashBlitz L.A. kicks off on April 20 in the Los Angeles River and surrounding watershed communities. Together, volunteers will remove trash and identify the top brands on packaging labels that are polluting the L.A. River and nearby areas. The results of this TrashBlitz will be used to support local and statewide policies and strategies to reduce waste. Heal the Bay is co-hosting the event with 5 Gyres, Friends of the LA River, Surfrider-Long Beach/Los Angeles, Algalita, Space Center, Greenpeace, Multicultural Learning Center, The Bay Foundation, Adventures in Waste, Sierra Club, Loyola Marymount University, Tree People, Team Marine, Los Angeles Waterkeeper, Padres Pioneros, Pacoima Beautiful, Los Angeles Yacht Club, Climate Reality Project, Azul, LA Maritime Institute, Adventures in Waste, Plastic Pollution Coalition, El Nido.

City Nature Challenge all over Los Angeles County
Friday, April 26 – Monday, April 29
The City Nature Challenge is a global effort for people to find and document wildlife in cities. Over 130 cities around the world are competing in the City Nature Challenge, including Los Angeles! For the fourth year in a row, Heal the Bay is rallying everyone in Los Angeles County to get outside, snap photos of any plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life (scat, fur, tracks, shells, carcasses!), and share observations using the iNaturalist app. The City Nature Challenge is organized by the Natural History Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. Free iNaturalist training will be provided at Heal the Bay’s Aquarium on April 13, 2pm-4pm.

View Earth Month Calendar


Become a Sustaining Member

Make a lasting gift in support of science-based education, advocacy, and community outreach in honor of Earth Month. Your generous monthly support of $9 starting this Earth Month sustains the health and growth of Heal the Bay, and ensures that L.A.’s water remains healthy, safe, and clean.

Make a $9 Gift for Earth Month

Looking for more ways to get involved? Stay connected with us by signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media at Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.



¡Vengan a disfrutar de las actividades familiares y aprender más acerca de la vida marina local!

1. ¡Los niños de 12 años o menor entran gratis! y el precio para adultos es de solo $5 dólares. ¡En grupos de 10 o más cada persona entra por $3!


2. Con alrededor de 100 especies de animales marinos locales en exposición, actividades para los pequeños, y programas educativos diarios, el Acuario del Muelle de Santa Mónica es el lugar perfecto para sumergirse en las ciencias marinas sin tener que mojarse.


3. ¿Experiencia Virtual? ¡Si, el Acuario de El Muelle de Santa Mónica lo tiene! La exposición virtual les dará la oportunidad de explorar la vida marina que habita las aguas de la Isla Catalina, incluyendo a la lubina gigante (giant sea bass) cual se encuentra en peligro de extinción.


4. ¡Fishing for Health! ¡Pesca Saludable! El programa de Heal the Bay, Angler Outreach Program o en español El Programa de Alcance a Pescadores, lanzo una nueva oportunidad educacional bilingüe en cual aprenderán de la contaminación de peces en el condado, el consumo de pez, y maneras de cocinar para los que pescan en los muelles de Los Ángeles. ¡El programa es incluido con la entrada a el acuario y toma acabo el viernes cada dos semanas a las 2 p.m. de la tarde!


5. ¿Las estrellas del mar no son consideradas un pez? ¡Acompáñenos cada viernes de 2:30 pm a 3:00 pm para darles de comer y aprender más sobre esta especie marina!


6. ¡Tun tun, tun tun, tun tun! ¡Acompáñenos cada domingo de 3:30 pm a 4:00pm a darle de comer a nuestras dos especies de tiburones, y a la misma vez aprenda más información! A la misma vez, puede ser testigo del baile de los bebes tiburones.


7. ¿La basura en exposición? Durante su visita a nuestra acuario podrá ver una exposición de la basura cual es normalmente encontrada en nuestros océanos. Esta basura no es solo interesante para nuestros ojos, es especialmente dañina para los animales marinos. 


8. ¡Usted puede ser un voluntario! ¡Puede participar detrás de las escenas y aprender de los animales marinos! Después tendrá la oportunidad de relatar la información con los visitantes del acuario. 


9. ¿Sabían que pueden rentar el acuario para tener un evento? ¡Una celebración junto a la vida marina! Hagan clic para ver más información de como poder tener eventos en el acuario.


10. El acuario esta directamente en el muelle de Santa Monica. Después de disfrutar del acuario pueden ir a conocer el resto del muelle y disfrutar de la playa de Santa Monica y todas sus atracciones. 

 



Today on #WorldWaterDay we celebrate women environmentalists who saw a problem, spoke up, and changed the world.

Women are impacted by environmental issues like water pollution and climate change at disproportionate rates as a result of systemic inequity.1 Harmful stereotypes and a lack of access to education, economic status, and health resources often leave women and people of color out of the conversations that impact them, specifically about land use, natural resources, and environmental policy decision-making.

Despite these challenges, environmentalists of color and women continue to be on the front lines of creating change. Get to know these 5 women environmentalists who have created an inspiring and bold legacy of activism.

Wangari Maathai (1940 – 2011), Kenya

Founder of the Green Belt Movement, which has planted over 51 million trees, Professor Maathai focused on environmental conservation and women’s rights. She studied biology in her undergraduate and graduate school programs and later won the Nobel Peace Prize for her vast contributions to sustainable development.

 

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Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores (1971 – 2016), Honduras

Berta Cáceres was an indigenous environmental justice activist and grassroots leader who created the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH) in Honduras. She fought courageously against illegal and harmful mining and logging as well as the construction of a dam that would cut off water, food and medicine for the indigenous Lenca people. Cáceres Flores was tragically murdered in 2016, sparking international outrage. The Cáceres family continues to demand justice for this corrupt violation of human rights. 2

 

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Isatou Ceesay (b. 1972), The Gambia

Isatou Ceesay is known as the Queen of Recycling in The Gambia, and rightfully so. Though she was kept from finishing school, she created the Njai Recycling and Income Generation Group, which turns plastic bag waste into purses, creating revenue streams for local women. Ceesay also educates and empowers women through environmental advocacy.

 

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Winona LaDuke (b. 1959), White Earth Indian Reservation

Founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth, LaDuke is an environmentalist and political activist with Indigenous communities. She focuses on sustainable development, renewable energy, climate change, and environmental justice. The White Earth Land Recovery Project is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the United States dedicated to recovering original land and maintaining tribal food, water, and energy rights.

 

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Dorothy Green (1929 – 2008), Los Angeles

Founder of Heal the Bay, the late Dorothy Green was a celebrated environmental and grassroots activist in California who stopped millions of gallons of sewage from being dumped into the Pacific Ocean and changed water policy in California. She also created the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council (now the Council of Watershed Health). Her goal was to restore and preserve the ecological health of the ocean and watersheds and advocate for better water quality in the Los Angeles region. Her legacy lives on today in our organization’s mission.

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we thank these women environmentalists, from around the world, who fought for what was right despite facing strong opposition for simply being who they were. Women and girls are leaders in their communities and agents of change. Supporting and listening to them will benefit the health of our planet for generations to come.

 


About the author: Mariana Estrada is a digital advocacy intern at Heal the Bay. She grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles where she enjoys a lively community of close-knit families and great food. She became interested in environmental issues like air quality at an unusually young age due to living in the city. Estrada’s area of focus is combining humanities and environmental issues to create effective and meaningful storytelling that renders real results. She studies English Literature and double-minors in Environmental Systems and Society and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.

1 Gender and climate change-induced migration: Proposing a framework for analysis. Author Namrata Chindarkar. Published by School of Public Policy, University of Maryland, College Park, USA. Published on 22 June 2012. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254496452_Gender_and_climate_change-induced_migration_Proposing_a_framework_for_analysis
2 Berta Cáceres: 2015 Goldman Prize Recipient South and Central America. Published by The Goldman Environmental Prize. Retrieved from https://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/berta-caceres/



After 11 years at Heal the Bay, Communications Director Matthew King is hanging up his keyboard. Before he heads off for a career sabbatical, he offers a series of posts about his favorite colleagues and lessons learned.

Readers, thanks for putting up with this extended farewell. (I feel like Cher or Elton John a bit.)  As I hand the baton to my capable colleague Talia Walsh, I want to recognize that none of our Comm success over the past decade could have happened without the eloquence and competence of our colleagues here. My job is just to set up interviews, create talking points, edit blog posts and help draft Op-Eds and then get out of the way. I’ve been very fortunate to work with so many outstanding scientists and advocates over the years.

I owe a special debt to Heal the Bay’s first executive director, Mark Gold, who hired me to rethink HTB’s Comm strategy. I think we both learned a lot from each other. Now an associate vice chancellor at UCLA, Mark is one of L.A.’s pre-eminent environmental thought-leaders, as well as an inveterate Dodger fan, like me. (In photo below, he’s wearing the cap, next to one of his heroes, star pitcher Fernando Valenzeula, before a Heal the Bay cleanup. I don’t think I ever saw him more happy at work!) His gallows humor and unfailing candor are welcome relief in a field marked too often by wishful thinking and feel-good platitudes.

My job was made infinitely easier by the endeavors of two former science-and-policy directors, Sarah Sikich and Kirsten James. I lovingly dubbed the fresh-faced, blonde duo “The Bobbsey Twins” for their earnest dedication. But this powerful team formed a formidable one-two punch in my early years, scoring victories for Marine Protected Areas and bans on single-use plastics. These two Midwesterners embody Heal the Bay’s core values: integrity, loyalty and a willingness to work hard. I am so happy that our current president Shelley Luce embodies these strengths as well. We are in good hands.

Last but not least is Meredith McCarthy, our current Operations Director and longtime Mama Bear of the organization. As Programs Manager, Meredith worked on dozens of campaigns and events with me – instilling me with pride, conviction, confidence and a can-do spirit even when my spirits flagged. She’s a mensch, a Bodhisattva and the best “work wife” I guy could ever have.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to represent Heal the Bay’s good work to the media and general public. I hope my work has helped inspire people to become better stewards of the ocean and our inland waterways. I trust that by shining a light, I’ve helped reduce pollution in the Bay and swimming-related illnesses. My father served as an L.A. County lifeguard for 30 years. So in my own small way, I feel like I’ve been following in my late father’s footsteps – helping to protect the millions of people who visit our beaches each year.

And one final thought: My wife and I had a trick at home called “One Step Further” to encourage better in-home habits for our growing sons. Yes, it was a small victory to have them take their dirty dish out of their room and to the sink. But we nudged to them to take it one step further, and actually scrape the dish and put it in the dishwasher.

I have a similar wish for all those who support Heal the Bay. Try to take it one step further. If you come to a cleanup and enjoy it, think about becoming a beach captain. If you sign one of our petitions, think about speaking at a city council hearing about the matter. If you make a small (and appreciated) one-time donation, think about becoming a monthly sustaining member. You get the idea. None of our good work happens without YOU.

I’ll see you on the beach. Maybe in Montevideo …

 

 



After 11 years at Heal the Bay, Communications Director Matthew King is hanging up his keyboard. Before he heads off for a career sabbatical, he offers a series of stories about his favorite moments and lessons learned.

Communications Directors have a special role at nonprofits. We work with every department and try hard to give our colleagues the credit they deserve for their hard work. We collaborate with smart people, working across all disciplines of the organization, as well as allies in the community.

During my tenure, I’ve spent time in the field with scientists, teachers, policy advocates, creative directors, fundraisers, organizers, journalists, lawyers, and powerful elected officials. You learn a lot just watching and listening to people who know how to get things done. I’ve had many classroomsfrom tidepools to city-council chambers, from aquariums to production studios. That informal education has been one of the biggest blessings of my job here.

Roaming across greater L.A. with an environmental mindset has also led to some memorable encounters and surprising discoveries. Here are three of my favorite moments:

Swimming with a White Shark

I’ve edited dozens of blog and social media posts about the need to protect apex predators in our waters. But my close encounter with a juvenile white shark while surfing in El Porto made the issue deeply personal.  You can read more about it here.

Discovering a Human Skull at a Cleanup

I’ve become blasé about what we find at cleanups after all these years of seeing the same types of trash over and over. Ho hum, another pound of cigarette butts in the sand. (Yuck!) But one find at a Coastal Cleanup Day site stopped me dead in my tracks – divers discovering what looked like a human skull underneath the Redondo Beach Pier. Police shut down the site and went full-on “CSI.” You can read more about the surprise ending to this story here.

Finding Hope in the Back of a Nissan

Teachers are among the most underappreciated members of society. (Honoring first responders and soldiers is great, but why don’t they celebrate outstanding teachers before ball games as well?) Patty Jimenez is one such hero, who goes the extra mile to motivate her students in the underserved community of Bell Gardens. I invited Patty and a few of her students to share their compelling story about getting cigarettes banned in city parks on KTLA Morning News. They hustled out to Playa del Rey, battling morning traffic in the predawn darkness to appear on the show before returning back for the start of school. During a break in filming, I watched these inspirational kids do something that will stick with me forever. Read their story here.


As a former reporter and editor, I know how hard it is to be a journalist. Low pay and long hours are to be expected. Most media outlets find their budgets shrinking as fast as the attention spans of readers. That makes it harder to get environmental stories into print or on air. Still, some thoughtful reporters are doing good work. Here are three journalists who made my job fun.

Louis Sahagun, L.A. Times environmental reporter

Louis is an OG LA Times vet, slightly rumpled, slightly curmudgeonly,  but with a heart-of-gold. He’s been around the block a few times. He’s the type of guy you want to have a few beers with in a divey San Pedro bar. He’s had to weather a lot of turmoil with management changes at the L.A. Times, but he perseveres. He’s the master of the anecdotal lede, expert at painting nature with spare but evocative prose. I took Louis out on a boat for my first big story here, a feature piece on the tension over creating Marine Protected Areas off the SoCal coast. You can read one of his stories about Heal the Bay’s campaign against invasive crayfish here.

Huell Howser, the late KCET video-journalist

No one did what Huell did, exploring the backroads of California and visiting everyday folk. With his “aw-shucks” demeanor and courtly Southern manners, Huell could make a trip to an insurance office seem interesting. So I was elated when I convinced him to do a segment on our fight against single-use plastic bags. My then-colleague Kirsten James and I had a small bet whether I could get him to say in that cornpone drawl of his: “Noooooo, Kirsten! NINE BILL-YUN plastic bags??!!” You can read more about our day together here.

Gayle Anderson, reporter for KTLA Morning News

Gayle has mastered goofy shtick to make herself one of the most famous news personalities in L.A. But don’t let that madcap on-air persona fool you. As a former crime reporter in Miami, she’s whip smart and extremely well read. She’s dead serious about her job and is totally demanding of her sources when putting together a segment. She used to strike the fear of God in me, but then I discovered what a pussycat she really is. You can watch some of her segments here focusing on our efforts to increase diversity on the beach.

Final installment here: Recognizing some outstanding people

 



After 11 years at Heal the Bay, Communications Director Matthew King is hanging up his keyboard. Before he heads off for a career sabbatical, he’ll offer a series of posts this week about his favorite moments and lessons learned.

Being the Communications Director for Heal the Bay is one of the easiest jobs in L.A. Our little nonprofit has brand-recognition and favorability ratings that would be the envy of any Fortune 500 company. We don’t have to spam people. Angelenos want to hear from our scientists and educators. I’ve tried to keep it pretty simple. People love the beach. Heal the Bay protects the beach. Therefore, if you love the beach, you should love Heal the Bay. It’s like that theorem in Geometry – A=B, B=C, so A=C.

Dorothy Green, Heal the Bay’s inspirational founding president, also kept things simple. She was a master communicator, who rightly noted: “Educating the populace is critically important. If politicians are going to lead, they need to already have an army of people in front of them in order to lead it.”

She shrewdly engaged media and local ad agencies to help spread the word in Heal the Bay’s first fight  in 1985 — stopping the Hyperion Plant from dumping partially treated sewage into the Bay. I’ve followed that blueprint during my tenure, helping secure some important victories. I’ve come to realize that as dysfunctional as government can be, it’s the key variable in a winning formula for healing the Bay. Cleanups are great, but it’s the heavy arm of the law that’s going to result in meaningful change – be it bans on single-use plastics, stiff fines for chronic polluters or injunctions against offshore drilling. My job has simply been to help recruit and mobilize the army that Dorothy envisioned.

So without further ado, here are my three favorite campaigns that I worked on here.

Statewide Plastic Bag Ban

As we successfully fought for the statewide ban in 2016, I constantly got asked: “Don’t we have bigger things to worry about than plastic bags?” The short answer is “Yes.” But these urban tumbleweeds are a powerful symbol of our throwaway culture. Getting people to give up the “convenience” of plastic bags can act as a gateway drug, where they feel good about other new habits — be it eating less meat or taking public transit. With nearly 2 million YouTube views, our tongue-in-cheek, BBC-style nature mockumentary “The Majestic Plastic Bag” made people laugh and think. The Jeremy Irons-narrated film even made the rounds in the legislative offices in Sacramento, as well as running in official competition at Sundance Film Festival. I still get dozens of requests each year for permission to play the film in festivals and school districts around the world. Many marketers talk a big game about their campaign going viral only to see it fizzle. But it’s the greatest rush when your work actually does.

Measure O – Fighting Oil Drilling in the Bay

When I first heard about the prospect of Hermosa Beach allowing an energy company to drill underneath the ocean floor there, I thought it must be some kind of mistake. But a regulatory loophole and an odd legal settlement basically opened up a narrow window for voters to decide in 2015 if they would allow limited drilling in exchange for millions of dollars in “community benefits.” Knowing how trusted Heal the Bay is in the South Bay, some local business owners raised some funds for our organization and Surfrider Foundation to create a public awareness campaign to defeat the measure. We were outspent 10-to-1 by Big Oil but our community coalition – led adeptly by Keep Hermosa Hermosa and my former colleague Jose Bacallao – prevailed. We had a lot of fun with the creative campaign, which focused on the idea that “Big Oil is Slick. Don’t Trust It.” My former Comm colleague Nick Colin came up with a disruptive idea – the Spillage People, a singing/dancing crew of our staffers dressed in HazMat suits drenched in oil. Riffing off the Village People hit “YMCA,” these merry band of pranksters would flash-mob around town and sing an anti-drilling ditty to hoots and hollers. Simply brilliant.

Measure W – Stormwater Capture

For the general public, thinking about water infrastructure is as exciting as talking about retirement planning. But last fall, we were handed a rare chance to start replacing our outdated water thinking/infrastructure with L.A. County’s Measure W. The initiative called for property owners to tax themselves to the tune of $200 million a year to start building a lattice of stormwater parks throughout L.A. that will capture and reuse stormwater and other runoff instead of sending it uselessly to the sea.  It was a VERY heavy lift. Who wants more taxes? And who in the general public really thinks or cares that much about where their water comes from? All the polling suggested the measure was truly a 50-50 tossup. It could go either way. But this one measure marked the single biggest action to decrease pollution in the Bay in the past decade. Thankfully,  president Shelley Luce committed the funds to come up with a creative campaign to try to win hearts and minds in the last few days leading up to the election. My longtime volunteer creative partner – Kevin McCarthy, an avid surfer and recovering ad exec – came up with the idea to turn the L.A. River into a canvass in support of Measure W. Heal the Bay and LA Waterkeeper snuck a crew onto the banks before sunrise and spelled out SAVE THE RAIN, SAVE L.A. in enormous chunks of sod along its cement channels. Green graffiti on concrete banks — the medium was the message! Local news trucks broadcast our stunt live and social influencers from Julia Louis Dreyfus to Zooey Deschanel shared our video far and wide. We can’t take all the credit, but I’m sure our stunt drove support for the measure, which squeaked by with the tiniest of margins.

 

Next: Three of my favorite “small moments” at HTB

 



Sustainable shopping is not just a trend – it may help save the world. However, the biggest impact we can make is creating comprehensive environmental policy that ensures equitable access to sustainable choices. One person can make a difference. One business can make a difference. And, so can we, as one community. For Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting two businesses run by women of color who are proving that it’s possible to be successful, sustainable, and make a positive social impact.

Shopping can be therapeutic for most. The instant gratification of hitting the “Buy Now” button or the bliss of un-bagging all the items purchased at the mall is irresistible. Though these experiences can gift us temporary relief, collectively they are extremely harmful to our environment.

From the abundance of unnecessary plastic packaging that winds up in landfills, communities, and ecosystems to the spewing of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during production and transportation, we need to see clearly that consumerism in the United States has contributed negatively to the health of our natural environment as well as our own health.

So how do we solve this issue — and quickly?

We all should hold ourselves responsible for making the right choice to safeguard the places we call home. It’s hard to imagine one’s individual impact from switching to an electric car, when fuel efficiency standards are threatened by the White House, or switching to be vegan to reduce their water and carbon footprints when farms aren’t required to reduce methane emissions.

Our individual decisions do cumulatively make a big impact. So it is especially important for consumers to shop ethically and sustainably while simultaneously demanding environmentally-responsible policies.

Our Power in Choice

As consumers, we have the power to choose companies that make a difference. And this is something worth acknowledging and celebrating. What’s exciting is that thousands of companies are actively developing innovative solutions. Meet these two company leaders in the beverage industry who are making a positive impact.


(Photo of Sashee Chandran, Founder and CEO of Tea Drops)

Tea Drops is a tea company created by Sashee Chandran, a Chinese-Sri Lankan American woman, that offers customers a locally-sourced, quality bag less tea that cuts out unnecessary waste. This process is markedly different than other tea products where polypropylene is used to make the tea bags.


(Photo of bag less tea by Tea Drops)

Sales of Tea Drops products support the Los Angeles-based, Thirst Project, by funding one year of clean water for someone in need – so choosing Tea Drops over other options not only reduces one’s waste footprint, but also contributes to water justice.

Another company promoting ethical production is Grosche, started by Helmi Ansari and Mehreen Sait, Pakistani Canadian partners. The company was built on the idea of ‘profit for change’ as opposed to profit for personal gain. They commit to funding 50-days of safe water for every product sold, including their adorable Shark Tea Infuser.


(Photo of Helmi Ansari and Mehreen Sait, Founders of Grosche)

Grosche has diverted 91% of landfill waste, uses 100% renewable energy, maintains a zero-carbon footprint, and has planted 10,000 trees in Africa and Haiti, while running a banana plantation in South Sudan to help grow food and create income for the local community. Biosand filters that purify water for 10 people, up to 25-30 years, are also offered to communities and families in need.


(Photo of the Shark Tea Infuser by Grosche)

Tea Drops and Grosche are incredible businesses moving in the right direction toward a sustainable future. We can’t stop there. We need to take their lead and advocate for policies that hold all companies and institutions accountable for their environmental impact. And we can’t afford to wait. The recent IPCC report reveals drastic change is needed within the next 12 years to protect our food and water supplies.

When we work together, we will see real change.

Check out HOVE Social Good’s Water Power Box, which features the products listed above. Every box sold gives $1 back to Heal the Bay! And also check out the box dedicated to HER Power to celebrate Women’s History Month.

www.socialgoodboxes.com


About the author: Mariana Estrada is a digital advocacy intern at Heal the Bay. She grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles where she enjoys a lively community of close-knit families and great food. She became interested in environmental issues like air quality at an unusually young age due to living in the city. Estrada’s area of focus is combining humanities and environmental issues to create effective and meaningful storytelling that renders real results. She studies English Literature and double-minors in Environmental Systems and Society and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.