The first Rob Machado Foundation beach cleanup on Monday, Feb. 1 coincided with one of the worst storms Encinitas had experienced so far this year. The day before saw huge rains and gusty winds that caused damage around the city -- and on the beaches.
The next morning was the perfect time for a cleanup, as debris had blown all over the beach. Sixteen volunteers braved the early morning wind and turned up for what turned out to be a beautiful day for a cleanup.
Diane Castaneda of WILDCOAST gave a short presentation about the San Diego Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Cardiff and Seaside state beaches are both part of the Swami's MPA, an area that is guarded from overfishing in order to conserve the diverse sea life.
Volunteers enjoyed free hot coffee from Zumbar Coffee and Tea before setting out. When we were ready to hit the beach, we were amazed to find that there was so much trash right at Cardiff Reef that we would not need to walk any further to keep ourselves busy. Volunteers filled reusable buckets and repurposed bags with all kinds of debris and waste.
The most common type of trash we found were tiny pieces of plastic and styrofoam, small enough to be ingested by birds and fish and to tangle into the kelp. Larger items like plastic bottle caps, bucket lids, and even a medical IV bag were found tucked in between rocks and packed into the sand.
Some of our volunteers were Green Team veterans who had helped at events like the Switchfoot Bro-Am and the Cardiff Surf Classic. Others were first-timers who learned about the cleanup through social media or posters in the community. But the most exciting volunteers to meet were the passersby who, once they realized we were doing a cleanup, took a break from their morning routines to join in. Rob came out with his wife, Sophie, and their son, Jaxton.
Four of our volunteers had recently moved to the area from Hawaii, and it was inspiring to see them adopt their new beach and take care of it just the way they would on their home beaches in Hawaii.
Even though the storm made it easier to see all the waste strewn across the beach, the reality is that it was only a tiny preview of the amount of plastic, styrofoam, metal and other debris that ends up in the water every day. We definitely saw how much the cleanups are needed and can't wait to go back next month.
Thank you to State Parks, Sambazon, Zumbar and WILDCOAST for partnering with us.