Thousands of volunteers attended Coastal Cleanup Day last weekend and marked the end of summer by picking up trash for 3-hours.

From underwater in the Santa Monica Bay to up in the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, 13,914 people removed more than 30,000 pounds of trash from 79 locations in Los Angeles County.

In addition to standard trash, several unique items were found at various sites.

In the Ballona, volunteers collected over 1,600 pounds of trash including a rake, basketball and a drivers license. At Dockweiler, volunteers found a bicycle wheel and sheet metal among the 650 pounds of trash collected. Volunteers found oil drums, bamboo filters and a BBQ among the 900 pounds of trash in Malibu. In the 250 pounds of trash taken from the Marina, volunteers found a can of spam, a suitcase, a wig and a roll of insulation. The 1,400 pounds taken from the Santa Monica state beach included three electric scooters and a laptop was found under the pier.

About 28 Santa Monica area dancers from Westside Ballet, ranging in age from 13 – 17, also took part. Martine Harley, Westside Ballet’s Artistic Director, organized their efforts with the help of several parents. Volunteers from the 48-year-old nonprofit dance company received matching shirts from an anonymous donor.

“I had so much fun cleaning the beach with the program @healthebay & @westsideballet !!  — Those who dance together, clean the beach together,” said dancer Eve Karayev, 7th grader at Lincoln Middle School.

Approximately 100 Santa Monica College (SMC) students and employees volunteered for the event. A total of 264 pounds of trash and recycling were collected from a one-mile stretch of the Santa Monica beach known as the “Inkwell.” Adopted by SMC as its ‘section,’ this historic site is where SMC student Nick Gabaldón and other African Americans challenged Jim Crow racism and helped open public beaches for all.

A total of 821 volunteers including K-12 students, and community members were also part of the effort.

“What inspires me is the lasting education people get by experiencing a day like this. It is what’s right about humanity: coming together for a common cause, cleaning the beaches be-fore the storm season sets in, making new friends while we learn about the damage that decades of the disposables economy has caused,” said SMC Life Sciences Professor and Department Chair Dr. Alexandra Tower. “It inspires me to see others inspired, and it’s what keeps me looking forward to a zero waste, sustainable future.”

Marine scientist and Marine Biology Samohi teacher Benjamin Kay had his Team Marine volunteers sift the trash to learn what is recyclable, what is not, and how products can be designed to be more recyclable. Kay also teaches part-time in SMC’s Life Sciences department.

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