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Heal the Bay Blog

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The Heal the Bay team created this brief voter guide for the November 6, 2018 midterm election in Los Angeles County. Did you know? California is one of a few states that allows “Conditional Voter Registration“. This means you can register to vote conditionally all the way through Election Day on November 6. Contact the Los Angeles County Election Office for more information if you still need to register to vote!  If you are voting by mail-in ballot, make sure to have your envelop postmarked by Nov. 6.

 

VOTE: Yes on Measure W 

The issue: Los Angeles is a water scarce region, and much of the water that we do have is polluted.  Stormwater runoff is now the number one source of pollution in our rivers, lakes and ocean.  The highly urbanized watersheds of L.A. County allow billions of gallons of stormwater to flow directly to our waterways, taking oil, trash, fecal bacteria and other contaminants with it.  In 2017, 100 billion gallons of water were wasted because we were not able to capture, clean and reuse it.  Measure W is the solution to turn stormwater from a hazard (pollution, flooding, wasted water) into an incredible resource – clean and safe water.

The stakes: Stormwater currently poses a serious risk to public and environmental health. A study conducted in Los Angeles and Orange Counties found that the regional public health cost of gastrointestinal illnesses caused by contact with polluted ocean waters was between $21 and $51 million each year.  It also brings water quality below federal standards, leaving cities vulnerable to violation fines up to $25,000 per day.  Cities throughout L.A. County have developed plans with specific projects to remove pollutants from stormwater, leaving clean water that can be recycled for beneficial uses; however, these projects cannot be completed without adequate funding.  That’s where Measure W comes in.

Our Recommendation: Save the Rain. Save L.A. County. Vote YES on W!


VOTE: No on Proposition 6 

The Issue: Transportation is currently one of the largest sources of carbon emissions, leading to poor air quality and other detrimental effects associated with climate change including ocean acidification and sea level rise.  We need to address the inadequacies of California’s transportation system, but unfortunately, California’s local public transportation agencies have faced budget shortages for more than a decade.  Proposition 6 would repeal transportation taxes and fees provisions, which voters overwhelmingly passed in 2017, that would pay for transportation improvement programs.

The Stakes: Proposition 6 would eliminate approximately $3.3 billion per year specifically earmarked to repair or replace unsafe roads, bridges and overpasses.  It would also eliminate an additional $1.7 billion per year for projects that will improve alternative transportation methods, such as public transportation and active transportation.  This includes $100 million per year dedicated to build safer bike paths and crosswalks to incentivize active transportation.

Our recommendations: Cast your ballot to protect environmental health and public safety.  Vote NO.


View more info about California Ballot Propositions:

http://quickguidetoprops.sos.ca.gov/propositions/2018-11-06

Download our Voter Guide 2018



A word to the wise: Avoid water contact at Los Angeles County beaches for at least 72 hours, following last night’s surprise storm.

All that lightning provided a beautiful show, but the accompanying rain did a number on our beaches.

The county’s 2,800-mile storm-drain system is designed to channel rainwater to the ocean to prevent local flooding. But it also carries tons of trash and bacteria-laden runoff directly into the Santa Monica and San Pedro bays following stormy weather.

A single major storm can send 10 billion gallons of water into our bays!

There’s another equally disturbing aspect to the runoff – it’s a huge waste of a precious resource.

Los Angeles imports costly and increasingly scarce water from Northern California and the Colorado River. We now import more than 80% of our water, using enormous amounts of energy and capital to do so.

Stormwater — if held, filtered and cleansed naturally in groundwater basins — could provide a safe, more secure and less costly source of drinking water. If L.A. County voters approve Measure W in next month’s election, the county’s Public Works Department would receive $300 million to build multi-benefit stormwater capture projects throughout the region.

The modest parcel tax would create a lattice of parks, green streets and wetlands throughout the region. Instead of sending runoff uselessly to the sea, the projects would capture and clean more than 100 billion gallons of water for reuse throughout the region. That’s enough to meet the water needs of 2.5 million Angelenos each year.

“It’s depressing to see all the waste on our shorelines after a big storm,” said Shelley Luce, president of Heal the Bay. “But it’s just as depressing to think about all that rainwater we are wasting. By approving Measure W, voters can turn a nuisance into a resource. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we need to seize it.”

More than 70 major outfalls spew manmade debris, animal waste, pesticides, automotive fluids and human-gastrointestinal viruses into the marine ecosystem after storms. This pollution poses human health risks, harms marine life and dampens the tourist economy by littering shorelines.

During the rainy season, Heal the Bay reminds residents that they can take steps in their own home to take pressure off an already taxed stormdrain system. Among them: keep trash out of gutters and stormdrains, dispose of animal waste and automotive fluids properly, and limiting runoff by curtailing such wasteful practices as hosing driveways and overwatering landscapes.



Heal the Bay staff-members are still buzzing about Al Gore’s recent Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, held at the end of August in Los Angeles. Key members of our outreach team attended the conference, learning how to talk to people about how the climate crisis affects them personally.  The training included discussions with business leaders, scientists, nonprofit leaders, students, entrepreneurs and innovators from across the globe.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti offered a tutorial on how to best engage with elected officials to effect change. Here are his tips, as relayed to us by Apryl Boyle, an attendee and chief aquarist at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium:

Know your stuff. Don’t look unprepared. It always pays to be better educated on an issue than the elected official you are meeting. Thoroughly do your research and become a subject matter expert before you meet with policy makers. Determine what they’ve worked on, their education, and what their allegiances and goals are. You need to come off as an intelligent and confident citizen. Impress with your knowledge and poise.

Be specific. Don’t ask someone to save the entire world. Come with a finite ask on a specific program, e.g. supporting a piece of legislation. Do you want the oil well removed from your neighborhood? Would you like to see the smokestacks by your residence out of commission? Ask for a very specific action.

Be flexible. Get a small victory, bank it, and march forward. Advocates simply can’t get all their goals achieved exactly the way they envisioned them right from the start. However, if you can get a foot in the door, you can start moving closer to the seats of power. Think big, but start small.  A wise person once said that it’s better to have three-fourths of a loaf of bread than none at all. We have to settle for slices at times.

Be inclusive. Stop feeling special, entitled or smug as an environmentalist/activist. Give other stakeholders a break. Understand that most of us have the same goals, but differing opinions on how to reach them. You aren’t better than someone else simply because you work for a certain organization, marched in a particular march, or wrote more letters to your politicians for a certain campaign. Recognize where there is common ground and build from there. Don’t be divisive.

Be proactive. Lay out a plan. This again is part of doing the research. Simply bringing problems to anyone without a proposed solution isn’t adequate. You simply look like you’re complaining. If you want a solution, be the solution. Gather metrics, have goals, meet deadlines and ask for deadlines.



#NationalVolunteerWeek starts on April 15 and we’re getting an early start on saying thanks to the awesome Heal the Bay and Santa Monica Pier Aquarium volunteers who go above and beyond! 

Our work at Heal the Bay wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers. Every year we host an awards party to recognize our most dedicated volunteers: Super Healers. Earlier this year in March, we gathered our fintastic Heal the Bay volunteers and staff went back in time to the 80’s for an Under the Sea prom-themed Volunteer Party. It was an evening well spent with funny costumes, jellyfish floating above our heads, silly props for photo booth pictures, and ocean-inspired activities.

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Big thank you to Bodega Wine Bar for hosting us. The food was delicious, and their staff was accommodating as always. We would also like to thank our volunteer party donors for the awesome raffle prize contributions. Many thanks to: Rockreation, Sweetfin Poke, Washed Ashore Adornments and Manhattan Stitching Company.

We can’t forget about the real all-stars of the night: our 2018 Super Healers.

These individuals truly go above and beyond their volunteer roles. They inspire others in their community, they bring amazing technology advancements to Heal the Bay, they are involved in multiple Heal the Bay volunteer programs, and they are always eager and enthusiastic.

This year, we awarded one Jean Howell Award, and thirteen Super Healer Awards. Read more about these exceptional individuals below:

Susan Lang (Jean Howell Award)
Susan’s introduction to Heal the Bay began in high school when she was given class assignment to create a presentation about Santa Monica Bay’s water quality. She made her way to the then one room Heal the Bay headquarters where a very helpful staff member gave her armfuls of data. That class assignment and the information she obtained from Heal the Bay sparked her commitment to environmental issues and the health of the Bay. She trained to be a beach captain and eventually expanded her support to several Bring Back the Beach Galas and Suits on the Sand events as well as helping out with Nick Gabaldon Day, doing community outreach for Prop 67 and lending her theatrical crafting skills to Straw-less Summer Campaign. Recently she completed Speakers Bureau training and looks forward to her next Heal the Bay project!

Jim LaVally (Speakers Bureau)
Jim, who has spent nearly 40 years in LA-area newsrooms, including at the Los Angeles Times, joined Heal the Bay as a volunteer in 2016.

Retirement allowed Jim to pursue a role in environmental advocacy, a longtime wish, and Heal the Bay was the perfect fit. He was familiar with Heal the Bay’s track record of environmental successes. Its mission also meshed nicely with Jim’s interests in natural history, geography and resource conservation.

Finally, by joining the Speakers Bureau, Jim hoped to achieve another goal: overcoming a sweat-inducing, bone-chilling fear of public speaking. And for helping him do exactly that, Jim will always hold a special place in his heart for Heal the Bay.

Grace Young (Street Fleet)
Grace’s first encounters with the ocean were the childhood trips to San Pedro tide pools. There she was wowed by a humongous darting octopus escaping to deeper waters during low tide. She has been in love with the ocean ever since. Her first volunteering experience with Heal the Bay started at a few Nothin’ but Sand clean ups in 2015. Eventually she wanted to take a more initiative approach in educating the public about how awesome our coast is, in tabling events and as a Beach Captain. Even though she works in the fashion industry, she would like to dedicate her career to marine conservation. Once said in Moana “Once you know what you like, well there you are”. Her dream job is to study tide pool ecosystems and implement less damaging activities in the area.

Nazeeg Mahserejian (Wednesday Warriors)
Naz first began volunteering at Heal the Bay in April 2017, as a Wednesday Warrior. Her most memorable projects have included the preparations for the Heal the Bay annual gala centerpieces, and the preparation and reparation on the straw monster costume for the Strawless Summer campaign, creating the hat and cup using the most chewed up, gnarly straws found during Heal the Bay’s monthly Nothin’ but Sand beach cleanups. Naz enjoys volunteering for Heal the Bay because of their mission to keep the beaches clean, and the wonderful, interesting, diverse people she’s met on Wednesdays. The projects are usually artsy, fun, and challenging. She looks forward to continue challenging herself, volunteering for Heal the Bay and meeting people of all ages, disciplines and backgrounds. And she’s also a beach captain!

Patty Jimenez (Community Leader)
Patty has been a teacher at Bell Gardens High School for 20 years and advisor to the Environmental Club for 17 years. Her students don’t have the luxuries other students take for granted, but what they do possess in abundance is passion and concern for others. She loves the outdoors and has learned to appreciate it because her parents exposed her to nature through camping, hiking and traveling. Unfortunately, many students at Bell Gardens High School haven’t had those same experiences and she tries to bridge the gap as much as she can. Her hope is that as they grow, they will become involved outside of their community, and ultimately will learn to appreciate what she grew up loving and is now fighting to protect. Her students are involved locally: by improving the campus within the City of Bell Gardens, and were also instrumental in passing a city ordinance banning smoking in all public parks and regionally, with the support of Heal the Bay and Generation Earth/Tree People. With Patty’s leadership, her students have learned that they can have a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of our people and environment.

Ian Kimbrey Beach Programs
Ian transplanted to Santa Monica in 1979. He is a lifelong environmentalist, recycler and trash picker-upper. His long-suffering wife, Joanne, says he can ruin a perfectly good beach walk by always picking up trash. He is famous (infamous) for approaching random strangers on the shore and asking them to consider picking up at least one piece of trash before they leave the beach.

Ian started volunteering at Heal the Bay in 2016 as a Wednesday Warrior. He worked his way up from “bottle-washer’s bottle-washer”, to “deputy to the assistant bottle-washer-in-chief”.

Our previous Beach Programs Manager, Zoe, greatly praised Ian. To quote her: “He’s been a kick butt volunteer for both Suits on the Sand cleanups and Nothin’ but Sand cleanups. He has a great energy about him and does a fantastic job of engaging cleanup volunteers whether they’re from a corporation or young ones, plus he’s always up to date with the latest environmental news and likes to use props and articles in his beach talks. I was super fortunate to have such a dedicated volunteer to help facilitate cleanups and give advice about ways to make the beach programs more efficient, and I hope he continues to provide the same unwavering support to Heal the Bay’s beach programs in the coming year.”

Ian is currently working on a completely organic, re-usable drinking straw called “The Final Straw” as it is the last straw you will ever need!

Sowgand (Sue) Baharloo (Santa Monica Pier Aquarium All Star)
Sue’s life dream is to study and work with animals. In fact, she wants to learn everything and anything she can about our planet: its wonders, its vast oceans, and the beautiful animals that inhabit it. Her passion led her to volunteer at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in October 2016. A year and a half later she says that volunteering at the aquarium has given her an amazing foundation – she has learned so much and has been given the tools and opportunities to stand up for our local marine animals.

Sue is an All-Star SMPA because she knows everything about the aquarium. She can tell you about any animal we have, read a great story during story time, lead thrilling sea star feedings, and never fails to greet you with a smile when you walk through the entrance. You’ll feel like you’ve known her your whole life because very quickly you’ll be nicknamed as one of her “loves” or “honey’s”. Sue is excited to continue building her experience at the aquarium.

Taj Lalwani (Santa Monica Pier Aquarium Public Programs)
Taj has been fascinated with animals since a young age. He is passionate about protecting all the amazing life than lives on this planet, so he started volunteering at Heal the Bay because he wanted more children to care about animals and wildlife.

He loves his experience at the aquarium. To ensure that other Public Program volunteers at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium also have a positive experience he is working on a project analyzing long-term volunteer experiences, which began with a volunteer survey. He wants to work in marine or land ecology and conservation when he grows up.

Laura Schare (MPA Watch)
Laura’s love affair with the ocean began as young girl when she first watched Jacques Cousteau, a marine documentary pioneer who quickly became my science Super-hero. Although she didn’t develop a career around the ocean, she did finally circle back as an adult to volunteer with both Heal the Bay and Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Laura first became involved with Heal the Bay through iNaturalist and was invited to a bioblitz at Malibu Lagoon. Shortly thereafter, she became an MPA Watch volunteer and then joined the Aquarium education team. Ask Laura about iNaturalist and Citizen Science, she would love to share her passion for all things nature, especially our beloved oceans.

Zehner Group (Advocacy)
Here’s the secret to any good nonprofit advocacy campaign. Go to a creative agency and find the frustrated but brilliant surfer. That’s what we did when we hooked up with Mick McCarthy at the Zehner Group to help us devise a clever, catchy campaign for our “Strawless Summer Campaign.” Working with his partner, Hany Zayan, Mick helped us build a microsite and social media campaign that encouraged visitors to take the pledge to go strawless. They cleverly reminded us all that LA SUCKS as long as we keep using single-use plastics. Thanks to their hard work, we built public momentum for a number of new measures, such as Malibu’s recent decision to make straws available on a request-basis only.

Alex Warham (Communications)
Alex Warham has brought a virtual paradise to our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. As the brains behind Diatom Productions, Alex donated many hours of creativity to us last year in helping us launch a virtual reality-style exhibit at the Aquarium. His crew captured footage of Heal the Bay staff diving off Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in Catalina and created a series of 360-degree films that show what an MPA really looks like. Our guests can now don goggles and dive in MPAs without ever getting wet! His gripping images will wow, inspire and motivate Aquarium visitors for years to come. If a picture is worth a thousand words, his images are worth a million!

Nicola Buck (Outreach)
Nicola Buck is an L.A.-based photographer with a unique eye and a big heart. She helps Heal the Bay tell our vibrant story through photography. Nicola volunteers at countless events, including our Gala, Coastal Cleanup Day, and Explore Ballona series. Her photographs capture the joy, curiosity and teamwork that energize our community of volunteers, advocates, donors and Aquarium visitors. Thanks to Nicola’s compelling work for Heal the Bay, we have reached more people in our social media and digital channels, especially Instagram (follow Nicola at @lapicnic)!

Luann Laval Williams (Board Member)
In case you didn’t know, all Heal the Bay Board members are volunteers. They don’t get paid to keep our doors open. Luann has been involved with Heal the Bay since she attended her first benefit dinner in 1997. Since then, she has been the Chairperson for Development, a Chairperson for a number of benefit dinners, is one of the agency’s most dedicated fundraisers and played a key role in Heal the Bay taking ownership of the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Luann brings a high level of energy, enthusiasm, creativity and FUN to everything she does. Additionally, Luann has introduced Heal the Bay to dozens of people who share our commitment to the ocean and who have since become strong advocates and donors.

Her advice to others thinking about volunteering: “When I came to Heal the Bay, I was just starting to get involved in the community. Heal the Bay helped me realize that I could make a difference in something as huge as keeping the ocean clean and safe. It’s a powerful thing to believe that you have something to bring to the table. I still have the excitement and enthusiasm for Heal the Bay now that I did when I first joined the Board”.

Friends of Ballona (Super Science Support)
Established in 1978, Friends of Ballona Wetland’s mission is to champion the restoration and protection of the Ballona Wetlands, involving and educating the public as advocates and stewards. Their primary objective is to inform and empower visitors of all ages. Through their educational tours, Explore Ballona! K-12 curricula, and restoration projects, the Friends help their neighbors and students from throughout the Greater Los Angeles area acquire the knowledge needed to take action to reduce negative human environmental impacts. Heal the Bay was honored to join forces with the Friends this past year in efforts to analyze, review, and comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands. As a Coalition, we advocated for a robust restoration of Ballona Wetlands that was based in strong science. The Friends showed true leadership and vision in our Wetlands Coalition as well as provided critical hands-on opportunities for the public to visit and engage with the Wetlands.

Become a Heal the Bay Volunteer



El 4 de enero el gobierno público un plan cual propone permitir la perforación petrolífera de la mayoría de las costas en los Estado Unidos. De acuerdo con el plan, se abrirían las costas de California para la perforación de gas y petróleo en 2019. En California la perforación petrolífera es sumamente impopular desde el desastroso evento en Santa Bárbara en 1969. ¡Alrededor de tres millones de galones de petróleo terminaron en las áreas más sensitivas del océano!

¡Este sábado, 3 de febrero tome acción y únase a la oposición de este plan en la manifestación en el muelle de Santa Mónica! Las playas nos pertenecen a todos, y este plan no solo podrá dañar nuestros océanos, también dañará nuestra calidad de aire. No podemos arriesgarnos a otro desastre, es nuestra responsabilidad proteger y preservar nuestro medioambiente.

La manifestación será en el muelle de Santa Mónica este sábado 3 de febrero del 2018 de las 10:00am hasta las 12:00pm.

El Departamento de Administración del Océano y Energía (BOEM) ha organizado SOLO UNA AUDIENCIA PUBLICA en Sacramento, California para dar más información acerca del plan—cual tomara acabo el 8 de febrero. Sometan un comentario público a BOEM y al Ministro de los Estados Unidos rechazando este plan cual drásticamente aumentara la perforación prolifera. El último día para someter un comentario será el 9 de marzo del 2018.

¡También pueden firmar la petición por Heal the BayCalifornia Coastkeeper Alliance, y Surfrider Foundation para rechazar el plan!

 

 



Bay lovers, here’s your one big chance to make your voice heard about the planned restoration of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Playa del Rey.

As we’ve been telling you, this highly degraded ecosystem is one of the few remaining coastal wetlands left in greater L.A. It needs some TLC – a lot of it, actually.

Even if you don’t live near the Reserve, you should care deeply about its future. Wetlands are incredibly important for water quality, flood control and open space in our increasingly urbanized region.

Heal the Bay staff and the other members of our Wetlands Principles Coalition will attend a public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 8 to discuss various alternatives for bringing this area back to full life. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife “CDFW” will be holding its only scheduled meeting to provide an overview of various restoration alternatives and gather public input.

In September, the CDFW and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft Environmental Impact Report/Study for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. The public comment period has been extended to Feb. 5.

The Ballona Wetlands are highly degraded from landfill, are too high in elevation and lack the critical interactions between land and water. In addition, more than half the Wetlands Reserve has been taken over by non-native invasive plants, reducing economic, ecological, and social value.

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Given that Los Angeles County has already lost 95% of its coastal wetlands, it’s critical that the state act to protect Ballona. Wetlands are unique habitat that connect land and sea.

Right now, only 3% of Ballona’s roughly 600 acres is functioning habitat. That simply is not enough. To be clear, there are a few vocal opponents who contend that no work should be done to restore the wetlands. But our coalition believes strongly that we must act now, guided by the best science, to prevent further irreversible deterioration.

Our Wetlands Principles Coalition has been busy analyzing the highly technical EIR document. We have been examining the various Alternatives for four key desired outcomes: increased habitat quality to benefit native wildlife, greater protection from flooding, improved water quality and increased public access to trails for education and nature appreciation.

Attend the hearing and tell officials that you want a robust restoration of the Ballona Wetlands that:

  • Maximizes natural wetland habitat and function
  • Protects native wildlife and plant diversity
  • Increases natural buffers against climate change
  • Minimizes negative disturbance
  • Provides open space and access for all
  • And most of all you want to BRING BACK BALLONA!

The public meeting will be held at Burton Chace Park. RSVP for the public hearing and we will provide you with more information about how to prepare and be heard.

If you cannot attend the meeting, you can also send your comments by email to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Daniel.p.swenson@usace.army.mil

California Fish & Wildlife: BWERcomments@wildlife.ca.gov

Read more about our efforts to “Bring Back Ballona” and also register for our Explore Ballona events this month, ranging from bike tours to habitat restoration.



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/



Spending time with some exceptional students at the 28th annual Coastal Cleanup Day serves as a real pick-me-up for Communications Director Matthew King.

After 10 years at Heal the Bay, I’ve become a bit jaded about our cleanups. I see the same mounds of trash every time I head to a site – cigarette butts, plastic water bottles, fast-food wrappers, you name it.

In the time I’ve worked here, our cleanup volunteers have removed more than 2.6 million items of man-made debris from L.A. County shorelines. That astounding figure stirs mixed emotions. It’s saddening to realize that we still treat our natural places as trash dumps, but it’s also reassuring to know so many Angelenos still care enough to donate a Saturday morning to protect what they love.

Coastal Cleanup Day 2017 was no different. Under pleasantly overcast skies, volunteers stretching from Compton to Malibu collected roughly 23,000 pounds of trash in just under three hours. To put that in perspective, that’s about the weight of two enormous T. Rex dinosaurs!

Beyond the usual suspects, we found a few oddball items this year – a drone that must have crash landed underneath the Redondo Pier, a whole set of unopened men’s dress shirts resting forlornly on the sand at Will Rogers State Beach, and a jock-strap and cup in Palos Verdes. (Props to whoever had the nerve to pick it up!)

It’s also revealing to see what we didn’t find. A veteran site captain at Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve was astounded how few plastic bags they found at this L.A. River location, which has historically been visibly choked with plastic bags. It’s a good sign that the recently passed state ban is working!

In all, more than 9,600 volunteers joined us at 61 sites across the County today. We always mobilize a cross-section of greater L.A, both the famous and not-so-famous. I’ve met professional surfers, NBA centers, All-Star outfielders and Oscar-winning actors. But it’s usually the everyday folks like you and me who have interesting stories to tell.

Take the inspiring group of six students from Bell Gardens High School who served as site captains for our beach cleanup in Playa del Rey today, under the caring guidance of teacher Patty Jimenez.  The youth brigade — Angel Diaz, Christopher Linares, Heidi Lara, Kimberly Gonzalez, Otzara Villalobos and Vanexi Jaramillo — mobilized 342 volunteers, who collected 235 pounds of ocean-bound debris.

I first met four of these kids last Wednesday morning at a KTLA Channel 5 news shoot to promote today’s cleanup. They had all arisen at 3 a.m., clambered into Patty’s sedan and traveled 23 miles in darkness to do a series of live interviews at the Del Rey Lagoon. With the bright lights of the camera staring them down as dawn broke, they spoke passionately and endearingly on live TV about their desire to curb cigarette-related pollution. Patty beamed at each of her charges, nodding as they offered simple but powerful testimony.

But what really touched me that chilly morning had come a half hour earlier.  I had approached Patty’s car to give the group a heads-up and to share some media tips. A gaggle of kids sat quietly inside, dressed in their teen uniform of denim, hoodies and Vans tennis shoes.

And then I saw something beautiful that made me well up.

In the cramped back seat, two students scanned textbooks, using their mobile phones to illuminate the pages in the dark. They were doing their math homework — in an unfamiliar neighborhood, hours before their school day would start and hours before most of their peers would even be awake.

I told Patty how moving the sight had been and she shared that that these students’ work ethic and optimism keep her motivated when she faces obstacles at school. She shared that this same group of students played a lead role last month in convincing the Bell Gardens City Council to adopt its first ban on smoking in parks and recreation areas.

The simple scene in the car gave me a moment of hope about the public school system, and Patty’s story gave me hope about the next generation of environmental stewards. This is why I work at Heal the Bay, to help my colleagues create leadership opportunities for students like Patty’s, to connect people from all across our region to their watersheds and to each other.

That to me is the real gift of Coastal Cleanup Day.

You can find more images from the day on our Flickr album and at our Facebook Page (check out the new videos, too).

Thank you to all our site captains, volunteers, partners and staff. We couldn’t have done this without you! And a special thank you to this year’s organizers, sponsors and otherwise remarkable organizations: California Coastal Commission, California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, City of Santa Monica, Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Schuchart/Dow, Union Bank, LAcarGUY, KIND Snacks and REI, as well as our photographers Nicola Buck, Cali Gilbert and Alvin Lam.

If you weren’t able to join us today, we have many volunteer opportunities throughout the year – out in the field, in our offices, or at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Explore the various options and time commitments here.



Estamos todos preparados para el Día de la Limpieza Costera, mañana es el día. Cada año, con la ayuda de nuestros voluntarios, recogemos datos para calcular los resultados. Como es un evento global, se puede ver los resultados de aquí, el condado de Los Ángeles, pero también se puede ver los resultados de otros lugares como, México o Brasil.

En el año pasado, en el condado de Los Ángeles se recogieron 29,635 escombros con la ayuda de 9,556 voluntarios. De los escombros, 28,087 eran basura y 1,548 eran reciclables. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un estetoscopio.

En Belize se recogieron 11,289 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 937 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 91,884 libras de escombros de 29.9 millas de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un árbol navideño cual incluia las luces.

En Brasil se recogieron 3,082 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 1,977 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 31,255 libras de escombros de 34.5 millas de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un frasco de perfume.       

En Guatemala se recogieron 21,066 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 440 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 81,452 de escombros de 9.1 millas de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue una lámpara.

En México se recogieron 131,396 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 20,588 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 898,234 de escombros de 127.3 millas de tierra. La cosa recogida más interesante fue un microonda.

En Puerto Rico se recogieron 127,573 libras de escombros con la ayuda de 17,943 voluntarios. En total, recogieron 597,940 de escombros de 253.6 miles de costa. La cosa recogida más interesante fue una muñeca de vudú.  

Explora los resultados del Día de la Limpieza Costera, un evento global que está celebrado por todo el estado de California, cuando voluntarios recogen basura y escombros de las playas, los ríos, los arroyos, los parques y los espacios públicos. Contamos todo lo que recogen los voluntarios para concienciar sobre los desafíos de la contaminación. Heal the Bay está orgulloso de coordinar los sitios de limpieza con La Conservación del Mar y La Comision de la Costa de California.



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.