The O.C. coast is clear, thanks to volunteers who helped during California Coastal Cleanup Day
They came out in force on Saturday with a mission: make beaches, lakes, parks, rivers and waterways pristine, the way they are meant to be.
Thousands of volunteers showed up around the state for California Coastal Cleanup Day, an organized effort that happens each year to help pluck litter and debris from the shores and beyond.
Organized by the Coastal Commission, California Coastal Cleanup Day first happened in 1985, when about 2,500 volunteers showed up to get their hands dirty.
Since then, the event has steadily spread inland, as more people become educated about how street trash and urban litter travels down storm drains to beaches. In Mission Viejo, volunteers worked on Saturday to clear trash from Oso Creek, just one of many inland clean-up campaigns.
California Coastal Cleanup Day in 1993 was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “largest garbage collection,” with 50,405 volunteers.
“It’s an opportunity for the community to demonstrate its desire for clean water and healthy marine life,” the commission’s website says. “And it’s a moment to share with one’s neighbors, family, and friends, coming together to accomplish something vital and worthy on behalf of our environment.”
In Orange County, tens of thousands of pounds are picked up each year, though exact figures on this year’s totals are still being counted.
Artist Katie Peck unveiled a unique albatross sculpture made of an estimated 1,500 cigarette butts in Huntington Beach during an Orange County Coastkeeper event.
It’s the second year she’s made art out of trash for the event, last year displaying a big blue wave made of junk.
Cigarette butts top the list of items picked up during beach clean ups.
From 1988 to 2016, an estimated 7.3 million butts were picked up, making up about 35 percent of the trash found over the years. In second place were food wrappers and containers — 2 million picked up, about 10 percent of the total.