Trash piled up on Santa Monica Beach after a rain storm last year. (File photo)

Local environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay has issued a call for Los Angeles County residents and visitors to join the world’s largest volunteer event – the 34th International Coastal Cleanup Day, to be held Saturday, Sept. 15.

Heal the Bay plans to host more than 10,000 people at 70 coastal, inland, L.A. River and underwater sites from 9 a.m. to Noon.

Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “largest garbage collection” event ever, Coastal Cleanup Day mobilizes Angelenos throughout the region to pick up harmful and unsightly trash and debris while exploring the environment and enjoying the outdoors.

Last year, Heal the Bay organized 10,200 volunteers at 61 cleanup sites and removed 11.5 tons of trash from Los Angeles County during Coastal Cleanup Day. In total, 106 countries – and 43 U.S. states – removed 20.4 million pounds of debris during Coastal Cleanup Day’s three-hour timespan.

Data from the annual Coastal Cleanup Day event significantly points at single-use plastic pollution as a major local and global issue. Cigarette butts, plastic food wrappers, and plastic beverage bottles/caps remain the top items found by Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers. Other common items include plastic bags, plastic straws and stirrers, plastic take-out containers, plastic lids, and foam take-out containers.

In addition to learning about the importance of policies that reduce single-use plastic distribution in our communities, Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers will also see first-hand the multi-benefits of nature-based stormwater capture and habitat restoration.

Nearly 80% of pollution in our marine environment comes from the land. Runoff from more than 200,000 storm drains on L.A. streets flows out to the Pacific Ocean causing the majority of local ocean pollution. By removing tons of pollution from inland neighborhoods, in addition to beaches and waterways, cleanup participants reduce blight, protect marine animals and boost the regional economy.

To register for Coastal Cleanup Day, please visit healthebay.org/ccd

Submitted by Talia Walsh and Christina Jurrissen, Heal the Bay

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