Volunteers explore the sand in search of debris north of the Santa Monica Pier during Heal the Bay's Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday. The Coastal Cleanup gathers hundreds of volunteers together to walk along picking up trash on the beaches of Southern California. (photo by Brandon Wise)

SM BAY — Santa Monica-based environmental watchdog Heal the Bay is calling on Southland residents to join the world’s largest single-day volunteer event — the 22nd annual Coastal Cleanup Day, scheduled for Sept. 17.

As part of a global effort, tens of thousands of concerned citizens in Los Angeles County will link to remove harmful and unsightly trash and debris from more than 60 coastal and inland sites, an area that spans close to 100 square miles, officials with Heal the Bay said in a press release issued Wednesday.

Since 1990, Heal the Bay has coordinated the county’s Coastal Cleanup Day, mobilizing an army of volunteers from 9 a.m. until noon to canvass beaches, parks, creeks, lakes, highways and alleys to remove ocean-bound trash and beautify neighborhoods.

No special training or equipment is necessary. But in a bid to reduce waste even further, Heal the Bay encourages volunteers to “BYO” — bring their own buckets, reusable bags and gloves to pick up trash.

Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers around the world have collected more than 166 million pieces of debris over the past 27 years, including close to 52.9 million cigarette butts, 14.8 million food wrappers and containers and 13.5 million caps and lids.

In Los Angeles County, Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers have collected more than 1 million pounds of trash since 1990’s inaugural event, equaling roughly the weight of a fully loaded Boeing 747 jumbo jet, Heal the Bay officials said.

In addition to picking up debris, volunteers learn first-hand the importance of keeping trash out of waterways.

“I love a clean street, noticing there’s no trash in the gutters or in the mouths of the catch basins, and I know my neighbors do too,” said Eveline Bravo, manager of Heal the Bay’s beach and Coastal Cleanup programs. “On Coastal Cleanup Day everyone in Los Angeles gets a chance to clear their streets and neighborhoods of debris. Plus it feels good knowing that whatever people pick up that day won’t end up in the ocean.”

Heal the Bay this year is also launching a special mobile-device donation program to support Coastal Cleanup Day. Supporters who are unable to participate directly in the Cleanup Day can still help protect what they love with a $5 donation by texting GIVE2CCD to 20222.

“Code Red” locations in need of special attention this year are Dominguez Channel, Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park and the Los Angeles River confluence. These urban sites drain runoff from huge swaths of Los Angeles County and are overwhelmed by such litter as plastic bags and fast-food packaging, Heal the Bay officials said.

In addition to the Code Red sites, approximately 60 sites have been confirmed this year, including more than 20 inland locations. SCUBA dive sites will include Leo Carrillo State Beach, Redondo Beach and the Santa Monica Pier. There will be two kayak efforts, (hosted by Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission) and the other in Ballona Creek (hosted by REI Santa Monica), where kayakers will need to pre-register with REI Santa Monica to participate.

For recyclers, California Electronic Waste Recycling Company will collect e-waste such as computers, monitors and all types of batteries from both Dockweiler Beach at Tower 59 and Will Rogers State Beach.

As a bonus, Coastal Cleanup Day sponsor Ford Motor Co. will offer volunteers at the Dockweiler site test drives of its 2011 models and donate $50 to Heal the Bay for every test drive taken. Volunteers who test drive one of the vehicles will be automatically entered for a chance to win an all-new eco-friendly Ford, with results to be announced at the end of the cleanup.

Heal the Bay seeks volunteers of all ages and physical abilities; no experience necessary. Site captains will organize a diverse mix of individuals, families, neighborhoods, community groups, schools, faith-based groups, sports teams and businesses.

To sign up, visit healthebayccd.eventbrite.com.

Heal the Bay organizes Coastal Cleanup Day in Los Angeles County in partnership with the California Coastal Commission. The L.A. campaign is part of a global international event led by the Ocean Conservancy. The day has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s biggest 24-hour volunteer event. Last year more than 14,000 Los Angeles County volunteers picked up more than 137,000 pounds of trash.


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