Get in the spirit of the season and celebrate Fishy Fest at Heal the Bay Aquarium on October 30 and 31 from Noon – 4pm. Heal the Bay Aquarium, located beach level at the Santa Monica Pier, has a fun and family-friendly event planned both days, including activities that honor the unique holidays of Halloween and Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
For Halloween, visit our Dorothy Green Room for a deep-sea experience, tip-toe (if you dare!) through our “Ocean’s End Cemetery”, and learn about ocean pollution in our Mad Scientist Laboratory. All ghosts and goblins are also invited to take part in a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt.
For Día de los Muertos, add a memento of your loved ones to our Día de los Muertos Ofrenda, create colorful Día de los Muertos crafts, and much more!
What is Día de los Muertos?
“Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is a time to honor and revere our deceased family members and ancestors. This tradition is rooted in the native Mexican belief that life on earth is a preparation for the next world, and of the importance of maintaining a strong relationship to the dead.
It is a time for families to gather and welcome the souls of the dead on their annual visit home. Cempasúchil (marigold) flowers, burning copal incense, fresh pan de muertos bread, candles, sugar skulls, photographs and mementos of the departed adorn special altars. In Mexico, Day of the Dead is celebrated over an entire week with the preparation of altars, foods, dance, music, and special offerings for people who have died.” – Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture without Borders
Schedule of events:
Join our Fishy Fest celebration, taking place on both Saturday and Sunday from Noon – 4pm, at Heal the Bay Aquarium for a fun-filled weekend.
Come learn more about the future Inell Woods Park expected to be completed in 2022. We’re co-hosting an Open House there with the City of Los Angeles on Saturday, October 16 at 11 am to 1 pm. You are invited (see flyer below for details)!
Heal the Bay is committed to improving water quality in Los Angeles County’s watersheds through the creation of more green space. In addition to providing recreation areas and wildlife habitat, green spaces can function as essential multi-benefit stormwater solutions too. They improve local water quality, increase water reuse and supply, reduce carbon, and mitigate heat island effect.
This is why we are so excited to tell you about Inell Woods Park, Heal the Bay’s innovative stormwater park project near the intersection of McKinley Avenue and E 87th Place in South LA. Our work to build the park is being done in collaboration with LA City Councilmember Curren Price, North East Trees, California State Parks, and many local community members.
Inell Woods Park is a good example of how the Safe Clean Water Program aims to increase local water supply, improve water quality, and protect public health by focusing efforts on multi-benefit projects in communities that have been identified as severely disadvantaged with regards to access to green space and other socioeconomic factors. Multi-benefit projects are the most efficient and effective use of our taxpayer dollars because they are cost-conscious solutions that serve both community and environmental needs.
Nick Gabaldón Day will take place on Saturday, October 9, 2021.
Nick Gabaldón (1927-1951) was a pioneering surfer of African American and Mexican American descent. He was the first documented surfer of color in the Santa Monica Bay. Gabaldón’s passion, athleticism, discipline, love, and respect for the ocean live on as the quintessential qualities of the California surfer.
In 2013, with the help of African American historian Alison Rose Jefferson, Heal the Bay joined forces with the Black Surfers Collective to amplify and expand their prior Nick Gabaldón efforts. Nick Gabaldón Day, in its current form, is now in its 9th year and will be held on October 9, 2021. This innovative celebration provides an amazing opportunity for broadening outreach, action, and education to connect Angelenos with their cultural, historical, and natural heritage.
The shoreline and waters at Bay Street in Santa Monica were an active hub of African American beach life during the Jim Crow era. This beach was popular from the 1900s to early 1960s among African American people, who sought to avoid hostile and racial discrimination they might experience at other southland beaches. Racial discrimination and restrictive covenants prevented African Americans from buying property throughout the Los Angeles region, but their community’s presence and agency sustained their oceanfront usage in Santa Monica.
In 2008, the City of Santa Monica officially recognized the “Inkwell” and Nick Gabaldón with a landmark monument at Bay Street and the Oceanfront Walk. In 2019, this same beach was listed as the Bay Street Beach Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in the African American experience and American history.
Nick Gabaldón Day introduces young and old from inland communities to the magic of the coast through free surf and ocean safety lessons, beach ecology exploration, and a history lesson about a man who followed his passion and a community who challenged anti-Black discrimination to enjoy the beach.
The Black Surfers Collective, Heal the Bay, Surf Bus Foundation, and the Santa Monica Conservancy collaborate for Nick Gabaldón Day to reach families in resource-challenged communities and connect them to meaningful educational programming. Together, we are helping build personal experiences with cultural, historical, natural heritage, and civic engagement that make up the foundation of stewardship, and the development of the next generation of heritage conservation and environmental leaders.
Heal the Bay Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier will be free for all visitors in honor of Nick on Saturday, October 9 thanks to a grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy and the University of Southern California Surf Team. Celebrity guest reader and Olympian Jamal Hill will pop in for story time and special art activities will be offered, as well as screenings of documentaries exploring issues of race, coastal access, and following your passion against all odds.
Tentative Agenda Date: October 9, 2021
9 amWelcome Ceremony and Memorial Paddle Out for Nick at Bay Street Beach
10 am – 1 pmFree surf lessons, beach exploration, and cleanup at Bay Street Beach. Surfers must register in advance.
1 pm – 4 pmCelebration continues at Heal the Bay Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier; admission to the Aquarium is free today in honor of Nick.
1 pmDocumentary screening
2 pmChildren’s story time with special guest reader, Olympian Jamal Hill
3 pmDocumentary screening
Nick Gabaldón Day 2021 Partners Black Surfers Collective Heal the Bay Surf Bus Foundation Santa Monica Conservancy
Sponsors California State Coastal Conservancy University of Southern California Surf Team
Special Thanks Swim Up Hill Outward Bound Adventures Color the Water YMCA Crenshaw Martin Luther King Youth Center
For more information about partnership and sponsorship opportunities please contact: Jeff Williams, Black Surfers Collective, email@example.com or Meredith McCarthy, Heal the Bay 310.451.1500 ext. 116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heal the Bay celebra su 32nd aniversario albergando la mayor limpieza voluntaria en el condado de Los Angeles.
La organización medioambiental sin ánimo de lucro Heal the Bay hace una llamada a las personas voluntarias del condado de Los Angeles para que se unan al evento de limpieza más grande del mundo – El mes de la limpieza costera 2021 presentado por Portland Potato Vodka y Ocean Conservancy.
Se anima a los voluntarios y voluntarias a realizar limpiezas de playas y vecindarios por su cuenta durante todo el mes de septiembre, y como punto culminante, a unirse al evento especial del Día de Limpieza Costera (Coastal Cleanup Day) el sábado 18 de septiembre de 9 am a 12 pm en más de 25 sitios costeros, interiores y fluviales en area metropolitana de LA. Tenga en cuenta: para los grupos presenciales del Día de Limpieza Costera el 18 de Septiembre hay un aforo muy limitado debido a las precauciones de salud y seguridad de COVID-19, por lo que serán organizados por estricto orden de llegada. Usted puede saber de antemano cuándo se abre la inscripción para el voluntariado del Día de Limpieza Costera suscribiéndose al Boletín Azul de Heal the Bay.
El Mes de la Limpieza Costera invita a angelinos, angelinas y visitantes de toda la región a recoger basura y desperdicios dañinos y antiestéticos mientras exploran el medio ambiente, disfrutan del aire libre, y participan en un proyecto de ciencia comunitaria. El evento es parte de la Limpieza Costera Internacional que ha movilizado a millones de personas voluntarias por todo el mundo.
El año pasado, el equipo voluntario de Heal the Bay retiró 40,101 piezas de basura de los vecindarios, parques, senderos y playas, y por primera vez en la historia, los equipos de protección personal (máscaras y guantes) estuvieron entre los diez artículos de basura más encontrados en las zonas al aire libre favoritas de Los Angeles.
Las personas voluntarias pueden registrar la basura que encuentran usando la aplicación Clean Swell o manualmente a través de la tarjeta de datos de Heal the Bay. Los datos recopilados durante el Mes de la Limpieza Costera se utilizan para educar e informar a legisladores, administradores de saneamiento y desechos y comunidades sobre los tipos y fuentes de basura que hay en nuestro entorno. Las colillas, los utensilios, envoltorios y botellas de plástico y sus tapas siguen siendo los artículos más comunes que encuentran las personas voluntarias. Otros artículos comunes incluyen bolsas de plástico, popotes de plástico y agitadores, recipientes de plástico para llevar, tapas de plástico y recipientes de espuma para llevar.
Durante los últimos 20 años, los voluntarios y voluntarias de Heal the Bay han eliminado más de 4 millones de piezas de basura y escombros de las playas del condado de Los Angeles. Si bien la limpieza de playas es nuestra última defensa para erradicar la basura en la costa, todavía hay 8 millones de toneladas de plástico que se arrojan a nuestros océanos cada año. Eso equivale a un camión de basura lleno cada minuto. Heal the Bay exige una acción estatal para abordar esta crisis de contaminación y aboga por políticas y prácticas que reduzcan el plástico en el origen.
El Mes de la limpieza costera de Heal the Bay 2021 es posible gracias al apoyo de Portland Potato Vodka, Ocean Conservancy, la Comisión Costera de California, Water for LA, la ciudad de Santa Mónica y TIME TO ACT Entertainment.
Se recuerda la participación de manera segura seleccionando un lugar accesible, usando una máscara cuando estén en público, usando guantes al manipular la basura y participando solamente cuando gocen de buena salud para ayudar a prevenir la propagación de COVID-19. El aforo para el evento de Heal the Bay el 18 de septiembre es limitado debido a las precauciones de salud y seguridad, razón por la cual desde Heal the Bay se alienta a los voluntarios y voluntarias a participar en limpiezas autoguiadas durante todo el mes.
Heal the Bay es el coordinador oficial del Día de Limpieza Costera y el Mes de Limpieza Costera en el condado de Los Angeles en asociación con la Comisión Costera de California y Ocean Conservancy. La organización sin ánimo de lucro busca personas voluntarias de todas las edades y capacidades físicas para participar; no se necesita formación ni experiencia. Los organizadores animan a los voluntarios y voluntarias a “BYO” (traer sus propios baldes, bolsas reutilizables y guantes reutilizables para recoger la basura). Los suministros de limpieza están disponibles bajo pedido y por orden de llegada.
Acerca de Heal the Bay
Heal the Bay es la organización medioambiental sin ánimo de lucro líder en el condado de Los Ángeles y está dedicada a proteger las aguas costeras y las cuencas hidrográficas. La organización tiene una historia de 36 años en el uso de la ciencia, la educación, la defensa y la acción comunitaria para proteger el agua limpia. El grupo realiza dos limpiezas de playa por día de media. Heal the Bay también emite calificaciones de calidad del agua para cientos de playas de California cada semana a través del Beach Report Card con NowCast, proporciona calificaciones semanales de calidad del agua para docenas de áreas de agua dulce con el River Report Card, educa a miles de estudiantes locales cada año y opera el galardonado Heal the Bay Aquarium. Visite healthebay.org para obtener más información.
The Los Angeles Regional Board has neglected their mission – to protect and enhance our water resources – by making polluting easier for stormwater dischargers rather than requiring action. It’s time to remind them of their responsibility to regulate stormwater pollution and protect LA communities. Register for our Stormwater Advocacy Training on Wednesday, June 30 at 6PM.
Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), pollution runoff into surface waters like rivers, lakes, and oceans must be reduced to protect both public and environmental health. Although the CWA is federal law, most of the work to implement and enforce this law is delegated to local agencies. In the Los Angeles area, this work falls to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board).
The discharge of polluted stormwater in Los Angeles is regulated by the Regional Board through the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. Cities and Counties are permittees under the MS4 Permit, and are responsible for their polluted stormwater runoff. This MS4 Permit has the potential to be incredibly impactful when it comes to reducing water pollution in LA because it not only addresses the main source (stormwater), but it also covers a total of 99 permittees – the Counties of LA and Ventura, LA County Flood Control District, Ventura County Watershed Protection District, and the 95 cities that fall within the boundaries of the LA Regional Board.
Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board jurisdictional boundaries.
The MS4 permit is updated every five years; however, the last permit was approved in 2012 so we are already four years behind schedule. And unfortunately, loopholes in the 2012 MS4 Permit actually allowed for degradation of our water resources over the past decade, rather than requiring the reduction of stormwater pollution, as it should have done. Leniency in the permit allowed for unacceptably slow implementation of stormwater plans, which means that surface water quality is not good in Los Angeles, it has not improved since 2012, and it has even gotten worse in some areas. This continued discharge of polluted stormwater has also not been properly enforced, providing little incentive for permittees to do better.
Everyone deserves safe and clean water, and a healthy environment to live in. It is the job of the Regional Board to preserve and enhance water quality in the Los Angeles Region for the benefit of present and future generations by implementing and enforcing the CWA. However, the Regional Board failed to uphold this important mission when they adopted the ineffective 2012 MS4 Permit, and more recently when they authorized multiple water quality deadline extensions.
It appears that some members of the regional board are more concerned with making compliance easier for the permittees, regardless of what that means for water quality and community health. We know that addressing stormwater pollution is no easy task. It takes significant funding and time to build projects; but even so, much more could have been done over the past 30 years. We cannot afford to allow another 30 years to pass before we start to see better water quality. We need the Regional Board to do their job to protect our waters. We are urging them to adopt a new MS4 Permit that is straightforward, measurable, multi-benefit, actionable, reinvesting in communities, and transparent – a SMMART Permit! That is the type of permit that nearly 30 community based organizations and environmental groups asked for last December when the draft permit was released. Unfortunately, the current draft of the permit mirrors that ineffective 2012 MS4 Permit, which does not satisfy these important SMMART criteria.
The good news is that Los Angeles does have the necessary tools to make great strides in reducing stormwater pollution. Cities and Counties have had over 30 years to make and adjust stormwater plans, and, even with the budget crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many opportunities for project funding through local programs, state funding, and even federal funding with the new Water Infrastructure Act. The tools are available, but we need a SMMART MS4 Permit that will urge cities to pick up those tools and do something amazing with them.
Examples of multi-benefit and nature-based stormwater capture projects that can reduce stormwater pollution while also providing many other community and ecosystem investments such as recreational opportunities, climate resiliency, or new habitat open space.
The MS4 Permit must reflect the needs and priorities of our communities. That’s why we need YOU! If you did not have a chance to sing up to speak before the July 1 deadline, send your written statement to Annelisa Moe by 12:00 PM on Thursday 7/8 to have your statement read into the record for you by a Heal the Bay staff member.
Juneteenth commemorates the promise of freedom and recognizes the achievements of African American and Black people, while truthfully acknowledging and reflecting on the time in American history when enslaved people were freed nationwide. Take part in a Juneteenth activity near you. Now, let’s learn more about this holiday and its connection to the coast.
The history of Juneteenth
The Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln went into effect in 1863, but did not instantly free all enslaved people in the United States. Many enslavers withheld information or migrated toward Texas in an effort to thwart the Union army’s enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.
On June 19, 1865—two and a half years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation—the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas and issued an order proclaiming the emancipation of enslaved people there. This date reflects one of the final phases of official emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. The year after, Black people in Texas organized the first “Jubilee Day” aka “Emancipation Day” on June 19. The observance of June 19 as Juneteenth (a blending of “June” and “Nineteenth”) is now a tradition that has spread across the United States and world.
Historically, the Juneteenth holiday has been observed through community festivals, concerts, picnics, fishing, outdoor sports, prayer services, family gatherings, and more activities. Texas was the first state to officially observe the holiday in 1980. As of 2021, 47 states and the District of Columbia officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or day of observance; and, there is a big push to make it a national holiday.1,2,3
The legacy of slavery on the coast
The legacy of slavery pervaded long after the 13th amendment was ratified in 1865. Locally, “in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Black people were harassed and kicked off of beaches surrounding Santa Monica. Nationwide, practices like redlining – the division and ranking of neighborhoods based on race and socioeconomic status – prevented people in low-income communities and communities of color from buying homes, properties, or establishing businesses along the coast. On top of that, Black communities were subject to additional discriminatory and unjust rent practices. The impact of these racist and discriminatory policies is clear today, as the demographic of those who live on and near the coast is primarily wealthy and white. Now, gentrification continues to cause the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color that live near the coast, parks, greenspace, and the LA River – and Black people still face harassment while trying to enjoy nature.“4
Here are events honoring Juneteenth on June 19, 2021 in Santa Monica, California.
Black Out at Bay Street with Black Surfers Collective
Saturday, June 19, 2021 9am-Noon Free & Outdoors at Bay Street beach Santa Monica, California
Share some stoke. Share some love. Black Surfers Collective is hosting a Black Out at Bay Street on Juneteenth. Join the gathering to eat, laugh, tell stories, catch a few waves and celebrate fellowship. While our annual Nick Gabaldón Day celebration is postponed to October 9, 2021, we’ll be honoring Juneteenth with this informal, relaxing beach day at Nick Gabaldón’s home break in Santa Monica. Nick Gabaldón (1927-1951) was a pioneering surfer of African American and Mexican American descent. He was a Santa Monica local and the first documented surfer of color in the Santa Monica Bay.
Wade in the Water: A Tiny Film Fest on Juneteenth features the premiere of BELONGING, a Belmar History + Art site-specific film honoring early African Americans in Santa Monica. This in-person outdoor screening of short films celebrates Black culture and the water. From spiritual rituals to migration and sports, water is an integral part of how people rejuvenate and restore joy. Before the screening, enjoy food trucks, music by DJ Moni Vargas, and the history panels and sculpture that make up the Belmar History + Art exhibition. At the close of the event, free prizes will be raffled off! Bring your blankets or beach chairs for lounging on the field. Limited seating will be provided for accessibility. Please note: event organizers are following the COVID LA County Health public health and safety guidelines that are in place at the time of the event.
Field Entrance: On 4th Street between Olympic and Pico Blvds., at 1840 4th Street, Santa Monica CA 90401
$5 Parking: Civic Center Parking Structure, corner of 4th Street and Olympic Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90401
Metro: 8 minute walk from the Downtown Santa Monica Station
The City of Santa Monica’s 29th Annual Juneteenth Event
The theme for this year’s virtual 29th Annual Juneteenth event “The Change is Here” is inspired by the famous Sam Cook song that foretold A Change is Gonna Come. It was also developed as a response to the outpouring of calls for change locally and nationally toward a more equitable society. Similarly, Santa Monica’s Juneteenth event has been a voice of change within the community since 1992 thanks to the leadership of LaVerne Ross, whose family had been recognizing Juneteenth in Texas before she and her family relocated to Santa Monica in the 1950s.
The program’s Master of Ceremonies will be spoken word artist Sean Raymond Hill and the presentation will include:
Traditional opening drum call performed by Chazz Ross and dancer Teresa Smith
A selection of classic and original soul and blues pieces performed by Harold Wherry and the Blue Breeze Band
Gospel favorites performed by Kaleo & the Voice of One Singers featuring Dr. Henry Jackson
The annual presentation by Mayor Himmelrich of the Juneteenth Proclamation to LaVerne Ross founder and visionary of the Juneteenth event in Santa Monica
More information about this free community event online event at www.smgov.net/vapark, Virginia Avenue Park’s Facebook page (vapark), by emailing email@example.com or by calling 310-458-8688.
Free Admission to Heal the Bay Aquarium in honor of Juneteenth
Saturday, June 19, 2021 12pm-4pm Free & Indoors/Outdoors at Heal the Bay Aquarium 1600 Ocean Front Walk Santa Monica, California
In collaboration with Black Surfers Collective and the City of Santa Monica, Heal the Bay is honoring Juneteenth by opening our doors to the inside of Heal the Bay Aquarium free of charge from Noon to 4:00pm on Saturday, June 19. We’re offering free admission to Heal the Bay Aquarium in honor of Juneteenth to provide space and opportunities for education and enjoyment at the Santa Monica Pier.
Be prepared to have your wigs snatched by an amazing cast of performers and celebrate inclusivity in environmental spaces through representation and aquatic-themed drag art and dance. All folx are welcome in the outdoors no matter their sexual orientation or identity. Let’s celebrate the bridge between the Queer Community and Environmentalism.
In partnership with SaMo Pride—and just in time for Pride Month🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️—Heal the Bay is excited to present our first-ever Queers on the Pier virtual event! This is an adults only (18+) show streaming on June 25 from Heal the Bay Aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier.
A variety of marine-inspired drag acts will showcase environmental issues connected to the ocean. In between acts, there’ll be interviews with professionals within the Queer community, highlighting both their voices and their work. Additionally, we will feature informative segments discussing queerness in the natural world, specifically in the ocean. The show will star burlesque company QWN, with performers Ricky ‘Merkin, Coochiano Pavornaughtti, Beyond Existence, Katinka, and Annie Malé. Please join us on June 25, 2021 at 7PM PT and let’s slay summer 2021 like the Queens we are!
The Meaning of Queerness:
Queerness: n. The state or condition of being strange. The term “queer” has a number of definitions, but historically the term “queer’ has been used in a derogatory way to dehumanize, harm, and humiliate members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In today’s society, any sexual orientation other than heterosexual is scrutinized, invalidated, and othered. Like most things in life however, sexual orientation exists on a spectrum and to have variations in sexual behavior is a naturally occurring phenomena. Many members of the LGBTQIA+ community have reclaimed the term “queer” as an all-encompassing expression to include all of the various members of the community, and that is how we at Heal the Bay are aiming to utilize this term as well.
Radical inclusion and increased queer representation are the essence of this show, and Queers on the Pier will deliver this through performance art, interviews with queer scientists, and with talks on queerness that exists in our ocean. Welcome to the Show!
When you visit our new outdoor patio exhibits, you’ll get to explore local marineanimal exhibits, study a gray whale rib bone, learn about ocean pollution and what we can do to prevent it, snag a sustainable souvenir from the Gift Shop, and more!
Discover your inner marine scientist at the Sharks & Rays and the Tide Pool animal exhibits. Sharks & Rays demonstrates the full lifecycle of sharks, and features baby swell shark pups. Observe the development of this important native species as they grow from egg to pup, and learn about all the local sharks that live in Santa Monica Bay. The Tide Pool display allows you to get up close and see local tidepool creatures like sea cucumbers, bat stars, hermit crabs, and marine snails.
Swim by our Watershed exhibit to learn about the Los Angeles ecosystem and view California native plants that are found in these habitats. Check the water quality grade at your favorite beach with our Beach Report Card, find out how you can take the Climate Action Challenge, and take action to #SkipTheStuff at our Plastic Pollution exhibit. A visit to the Aquarium will give you a greater understanding of the ocean, and inspire stewardship of the marine environment and its inhabitants.
We’ll have fun, eco-friendly crafts and activities you can take home, and beach cleanup kits available to purchase, so you can continue to Heal the Bay, the ocean, and the planet even after your visit.
Plus, you can bring the memories home with a souvenir from our Aquarium Gift Shop. Check out zero-waste goodies, plushies, green travel items, limited edition Heal the Bay gear, and more. Every purchase directly supports our marine education and clean water programs.
Keep Making Waves with Heal the Bay Aquarium:
Care for local wildlife species by making an Aquadoption.
Jamal Hill, Paralympic swimmer and educator based in Los Angeles, believes the next US Olympic Games champion is 5 years old right now and waiting for their first swim lesson.
To reach them, and many others, Jamal has a goal to teach one million people to swim.
His own love for swimming began at a local YMCA “Mommy & Me” swim class in Inglewood. Even back then, it was evident Jamal was a natural born swimmer.
After paralysis and recovery at age 10, his parents encouraged him to use the experience to inspire others to overcome challenges. Jamal trained and swam competitively in high school and college, and then became a professional Paralympic swimmer. He is currently ranked number one in the US Paralympic 100 Freestyle and number 22 in the world. Watch a short documentary about Jamal’s story.
Jamal’s passion for swimming extends well beyond his personal and professional goals for competing in the next Olympic Games. He also has set his sights on empowering Black and Brown youth locally and globally with water safety and swimming lessons.
The latest statistics from the World Health Organization show that 320,000 people lose their lives to drowning every year. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children aged 1-14 years in the United States.
Due to a history of systemic racism in the US, Black and Latinx children are disproportionately impacted by a lack of equitable access to pools for swimming and water safety lessons.
If you are celebrating Thanksgiving at home this year, we have a fun family activity to do that week. Get your household together for a Creative Family Swim on Zoom with Jamal Hill and Heal the Bay at 11am on Saturday, November 28. Together, we’ll unlock basic swim and water safety skills at home without a pool!You’ll just need these supplies: (1) 10-inch bowl, (2) 5-gallon buckets, (1) bench or table that supports your body weight, (1) Note pad, and (1) Pen.
Tune in to Instagram Live with Jamal Hill and Kelly Kelly – Education Manager at Heal the Bay, Danni Washington – TV Host and Co-Founder of Big Blue & You), and Soleil Errico – World Longboard Champion for a series of conversations about equity in water safety and swimming, environmental education and advocacy, and the journey to becoming a pro water athlete. We’ll get started at 11am PT on Tuesday, November 24. Follow @swimuphill on Instagram to watch live and ask questions.
As the sun sets on Coastal Cleanup Month, we are looking back with gratitude and appreciation for everyone who participated in a cleanup, helped us spread the word, raised funds, and joined a virtual event over the course of the month. At a time when it’s easy to feel isolated from one another, it is inspiring to see how we came together across the County, from summit to sea, to protect what we love.
A New Take on 2020
Heal the Bay has been the LA County coordinator for Coastal Cleanup Day for more than 30 years, and 2020 proved to be a completely different cleanup effort than years past. In an effort to prioritize the health and safety of the community, the re-imagined concept was expanded to become an entire month of individualized cleanups close to home and virtual programming to educate about the impacts of trash and pollution and how we can work together towards solutions. Our Heal the Bay Aquarium education team engaged 437 LAUSD students with virtual programming about protecting our watersheds. This was also the first year that we asked for volunteer fundraisers to support our clean water mission. Fundraising teams and individuals raised close to $2,000, and we are grateful for their support.
Each week of Coastal Cleanup Month focused on a different region, starting at the top of our mountains, working through our neighborhoods & waterways, and culminating at our wetlands & beaches. The weekly programming featured a series of panels, webinars, and Instagram Lives with partner organizations that explored the various community and environmental issues facing Los Angeles County.
None of this would have been possible without our Coastal Cleanup Month sponsors, and we would like to thank Water for LA, Blue Shield, K-Swiss, Ford, and West Basin Municipal Water District for their support.
This year, we set a goal of collecting 31,000 pieces of trash throughout the month of September. Thanks to our dedicated Regional Ambassadors and 2,334 registered cleanup volunteers, we surpassed this goal with a total of 40,101 pieces of trash collected!
The top 10 items found across Los Angeles County in the month of September were:
The Effects of PPE and the Pandemic on Our Environment
Coastal Cleanup Month was the first initiative of this scale to track the impact of the improper disposal of single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) in LA County. In the first year of tracking this item, PPE was one of the top 10 items found by our volunteers, surpassing common items like glass bottles.
Through our data, we can clearly see the effects of the pandemic on our waste stream. Another observation is that people are relying more than ever on takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining at beaches, parks, and other public spaces. Disposable foodware accessories like utensils, straws, and takeout containers were some of the most common items found during cleanups.
The Plastic Problem
Looking at the data collected throughout Coastal Cleanup Month, it’s obvious that single-use plastic is the top offender. From utensils and straws to takeout containers and grocery bags, our lives are filled with plastic – and so is our environment. Unfortunately, the effects of COVID-19 have worsened these single-use habits and curbed a lot of progress that we’ve seen in Los Angeles over the last several years.
Plastic grocery bags were a common item found during cleanups until California became the first state in the nation to impose a statewide bag ban in 2014. Before the pandemic hit, we were making great strides in reducing our single-use plastic waste. We could bring our reusable bags to the grocery store and refill our reusable coffee cups at Starbucks, and our environment and community were all the better for it. Now, plastic producers are using the pandemic to push disposable plastics as a safer option, a position that has no scientific merit. They were able to undo the work of the state bag ban, and grocery stores statewide have not only reintroduced single-use plastic bags, but many have banned reusable bags from entering stores. This year, we saw plastic grocery bags, cups, and lids in the top 10 items found by our volunteers during Coastal Cleanup Month.
We also found that other than cigarette butts and PPE, the top 10 items are all food and drink-related. With the increasing reliance on takeout and delivery, plastic cutlery and other accessories are becoming a bigger and bigger issue. Restaurants often throw these items in takeout bags regardless of whether the customer needs them or not. To put this in perspective, 40 billion plastic utensils are thrown away each year in the United States. Plastic foodware items, like straws, utensils, and condiment packets cannot be recycled, so they are destined to end up in a landfill, incinerator, or polluting our oceans and communities.
How Can You Help?
Plastic pollution may seem like something that is out of your control. However, there are easy ways you can help make waves of change, from using reusable products when you can to supporting environmental legislation. Here are 3 easy ways to make a change:
From grocery bags and utensils to water bottles and coffee cups, there are reusable replacements for almost all single-use plastics. Check out our Heal the Bay Shop for some ideas! If you’re ordering takeout or delivery, make sure to tell the restaurant “no plastic, please!” and use your own utensils instead. Check out Reusable LA and Habits of Waste for easy ways to help combat this issue, like sending an email to third party delivery companies asking them to make plastic cutlery and accessories optional rather than the default. If you’re unsure where to start, conduct a home waste audit to evaluate your daily habits and see where you can replace single-use items with reusables.
Pack it out.
As a result of limited staff and the increased need to sanitize the bathrooms as a result of COVID-19, Los Angeles County Beaches & Harbors only has the capacity to empty the public trash cans once a day. Combined with the surge of beachgoers picnicking on the sand, this has led to an overwhelming problem of overflowing trash cans and increased beach litter. Similar issues have been observed throughout the County, so if you are enjoying our public spaces, make sure that all trash gets disposed of properly, and pack it out if trash cans are full.
Use your voice.
Every single person has power! You influence the people close to you by voicing your opinion, you influence companies with the purchases you choose to make, and you can influence policy and legislation with your vote. The California bag ban is a good example of local change leading the charge and turning into statewide change, so don’t underestimate the power of advocating at your local City Council or with the County Board of Supervisors. At its core, plastic pollution is not a consumer problem; it’s a producer problem, and you can use your voice to support plastic policies that make plastic producers responsible for the waste they create.
Get Involved with Heal the Bay
We are excited with the results of Coastal Cleanup Month, but protecting our watersheds and coastline is an everyday effort. There are ways you can continue to stay involved and support our clean water mission year-round with different programs like Adopt-a-Beach, Club Heal the Bay, and MPA Watch. If you’re ready for more action to protect our oceans, join our virtual Volunteer Orientation on October 12. And don’t forget to save the date in September 2021 for next year’s Coastal Cleanup efforts!