Ok ok it’s not technically called that, but the California Costal Cleanup Day is definitely something you should check out this Saturday if you like finding cool stuff and wish your beach looked less….garbage-y.

For 31 years now, thousands of volunteers all over the world come together, put on the strongest pair of gloves they can find, and go scour the coast, lakes, rivers and their surroundings, picking up what we throw out the rest of the year.

Image via coastal.ca.gov

The Cleanup Day – put on by the California Coastal Commission – draws nearly 60,000 people each year. In Orange County alone, 7,053 volunteers picked up a staggering 64,037 pounds of trash and 3,636 pounds of recyclables last year. It’s quite an impressive event, even being hailed as Guinness World Record’s “largest garbage collection”.

Statewide, about 1.2 million pounds of trash and recyclables were removed from California’s beaches, lakes, and waterways last year. Volunteers included families, community groups, corporate sponsors and lone do-gooders hoping to help.

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After each clean-up session, volunteers are given data cards to help keep track of and tally the “harvest”, with the data being fed to the Coastal Commission. Up to now, the most bountiful of all items found are cigarette buds, accounting for almost 40 percent of the debris picked up since the Day was first organised, they report.

Even if styrofoam, cigarette butts and plastic debris are collected by the truck-load each year, there have been a lot of unexpected finds among them. Last year’s more spectacular “spoils” included an E.T. doll, a partially burned bike, a fake mustache, a prom dress in and even a bottle of medical marijuana – with some of the health boosting herb still inside.

If you’re aiming to get more than your feet wet, you can join the efforts of Dana West Marina in Dana Point, where about 90 divers will be pulling up trash from the bottom of the harbor – however, you’ll need a diver’s certificate to be able to join.

 “We should find some interesting stuff,” said Kelly Rinderknecht, organizer of the underwater effort.

Other sites in Dana Point include: Ocean Institute/Dana Point Marine Protected Area; Dana Point Yacht Club on-the-water Kayak Clean Up; Doheny State Beach and San Juan Creek; Salt Creek/Strand Beach; Dana Point Harbor Cigarette Butt Round-Up; and Capistrano Beach.

The California Coastal Commission agency aims to enforce the California Coastal Act of 1976, which extended the commission’s authority to protect the California coastline. It also strives to educate the public about environmental conservation and getting them involved with coastal stewardship.


To volunteer, go to: coastal.ca.gov