The proliferation of plastics and reduction of group clean-ups due to Covid-19 is fueling a pollution pandemic on local beaches and a group of girls at Lincoln Middle School plan on changing that.

In partnership with environmental education non-profit Grades of Green, a team of students from Lincoln’s ‘Women in STEM’ club are running a technology-forward and socially distanced pollution reduction campaign.

The students have created a video to educate the broader Santa Monica community about the effects of plastic pollution on the ocean and its relationship to climate change. They are not only spreading a message, but also a call to action by imploring local residents to join them on three distanced, but coordinated, beach clean-ups.

“Once the pandemic started a lot of the cities relaxed their bans on plastic bags and with the expansion of takeout foods we’ve seen a lot more single use containers and utensils,” said Robyn Murphy, Grades of Green program advisor. “In addition to that, single use masks and gloves are being found more and more on beaches and in our waterways.”

Students are interested in analyzing the type and number of trash items collected at their clean-ups. Participants will record what they collect using the Litterati app and students will use this data to advance their advocacy campaign.

“There was so much progress over the last few years in reducing single use plastics and now students are very concerned,” said Murphy. “Students have incorporated that into their messaging and are giving people advice for switching back to reusables, reducing whenever possible, and saying no to single use utensils when they can.”

The cleanups are led in partnership with the Heal the Bay Foundation and will take place on March 6. between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., March 7. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and March 13 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

All community members are encouraged to join the team picking up litter at any point along the beach between the Pier and Pacific Palisades and to record their progress on the Litterati app using challenge code ‘824587’.

“I am excited to see how we can bring our community together, even though we are apart, to fight global warming and save our beautiful Santa Monica beaches!” said Siona Kirschner, 7th grade student.

LAcarGuy is also lending a hand and encouraging employees and customers at their five Santa Monica locations to take part.

“As a surfer and Santa Monica native, keeping our local beaches clean and plastic free has always been a top priority for LAcarGUY,” said Owner Mike Sullivan. “We love participating in our annual beach cleanup event so when we heard that Grades of Green’s students at Lincoln Middle School needed help with their beach cleanup, we jumped at the opportunity to get our team involved.”

While the all-consuming crisis of the coronavirus has taken political and media focus away from the impending climate crisis, Grades of Green said their students remain incredibly dedicated to environmental issues.

“The pandemic is an excellent example of how fragile our stability is as a global society and climate change will have a lot of the same sorts of life altering impacts if we don’t do anything about it,” said James Saracini, Grades of Green communications and marketing director. “Students still see it as a major issue and want to be more involved than ever.”