West Contra Costa beaches benefit from Coastal Cleanup Day efforts
on September 18, 2021
On Contra Costa County beaches and up and down the California coast on Saturday, volunteers armed with trash bags and garden gloves picked up cups, bottles, paper and all sorts of debris discarded on beaches.
At Bayfront Park in Pinole, 14-year-old Josiah Ireton joined other Boy Scouts from Pinole and Hercules, laboriously hauling tires and filling bags with litter.
“We found a lot of plastic straws, discarded food containers … and we found a lot of glass, especially on the beach,” Josiah said.
More than 100 volunteers signed to help at Bayfront for the annual Coastal Cleanup Day, a statewide initiative for more than three decades. It is now part of the larger World Cleanup Day, an effort that drew 11 million people from more than 160 countries when it launched in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more safeguards such as masks and social distancing among cleanup crews, but it hasn’t kept people from getting involved. Last September, 17,000 Californians participated, preventing over 150,000 pounds of trash from entering storm sewers and the ocean, the state estimated.
In Pinole, the official event was canceled last year, but apparently not forgotten. Families, groups and individuals spent hours at Bayfront Park on Saturday, scouring the tall grass for hours and returning to dumpsters with bags full of garbage.
Carla Maba came with her two children, Sebastian, 9, and Julian, 7, who hunted for debris in grass and through bushes.
“The boys are very aware of not throwing garbage,” said Maba, who has attended the cleanup for several years.
There has been a shift in beach cleanliness over the years, said Pete Murray, a former Pinole mayor and former council member. Thirty years ago, “it looked like we were growing tires out there,” he said. That isn’t the case anymore, largely because people have gotten more involved.
Abut 120 people signed up for the event at Bayfront Park and many others volunteered to clean up Pinole’s Fernandez Park, said Maria Picazo, recreation manager.
“Considering that this was after we canceled last year’s event due to COVID-19, it’s quite a positive turn-out,” she said.
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