lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 min.
1,281.7 pounds total
8 cigarette butts
I just got home from speaking at SMASH - Santa Monica Alternative School House. My friend Bailey who teaches there has invited me twice in the last month to present The Daily Ocean to 7th and 8th graders. They ask thoughtful questions.
One of the last questions was, "Where is the dirtiest beach you've been to?"
"Here," I said. The boy looked shocked. I went on to explain the "First Flush" of trash through the storm drain system of Los Angeles every fall in October.
"I collected 11 pounds in 5 min. last year," I said as he sat down still a little wide-eyed.
"Part of the problem is that there's 15 million people behind our coastline who may not understand the impact they have when they use certain products and where this plastic packaging ends up."
I went on to say, "How do we teach them that they matter, that they have an impact? How do we educate people so they are afforded a chance to change? How do we keep their ears open?"
The class must have thought these questions were rhetorical. And to a large extent they were so I'll answer them here.
One way I reach people is by using myself as an example of someone who drank plenty of bottled water, and used plastic bags when I started doing my solo beach cleanups.
And I kept drinking bottled water and using bags even after I started until I'd found too many to continue the habit. My habits changed with my experience as I learned more. I believe if I share this with people, that they may feel less pressure to be environmentally perfect and more inclined to take action just as they are.
People care. The beach and our oceans are places many of us treasure. I was afforded the chance to change. Other people can change too if given the opportunity, knowledge and inspiration to do so.