Volunteers Clean Beach

By Liz Angeles

I took my usual morning beach walk Sunday morning and discovered this amazing organized group of community beach cleaners. I just had to investigate. This was spear-headed by Mary Curran. I had to dig deeper. Mary shares her story here.

My husband Andy and I live in Santa Monica and we walk down to surf multiple times a week. Let's be honest, I boogie board while he surfs because I'm not coordinated enough to surf.

Last summer (July 2020) I was in the water and a plastic shopping bag floated up next to me. I grabbed it, got out of the water and walked it up to the trash can. It happened FOUR additional times that afternoon. The following day I went for a run in the sand and kept stopping to pick up cups, plastic bags and trash from the water's edge. I was beyond frustrated.

I came home and told Andy that we needed to clean the beach. We went down with a few compostable bags and we were disgusted by the amount of trash and by the people that would leave copious amounts of trash in the sand with a trash can just a few feet away from them.

Needless to say, we needed a bigger bag and more hands on deck. I went and bought buckets and designed two tank tops, "Pick Up Your effing Trash" and "No One Wants To Touch Your Butt" (there's a cigarette on it) and started texting everyone I knew that lived locally to come out and help clean the beach. People love a free punny tank top!

The deal was, if they came to one beach clean-up, I would take down the size shirt they wanted and then deliver it on their second clean-up. That way I could at least lock them in for two clean ups. It worked. Not only did my friends continue to show up, but random people on the beach would ask about our shirts and want to join the effort. We even have a girl scout troop that comes out to help! (I made them profanity free t-shirts).

Facebook friends shipped us boxes of gloves and grabbers and we have several extra buckets for people in need.

We meet every Sunday at 9am in Palisades Park (At Idaho and Ocean) and walk down to the beach collecting trash along the way. We set a time once we hit the sand (usual-ly an hour) to meet back at Perry's for our group photo. If you don't set a time limit, you get sucked into the vortex of trash and never want to leave.

When we finish we sort the trash and get as many recyclables into the appropriate receptacle (The trash cans on the sand are not sorted for recyclables so we try to get plastic, glass and cans into a recycle bin). On average we collect 50-60 gallons of trash in one hour. The summer months are double.


We pick up so many masks, cigarette butts and plastic water bottle lids. After a storm, the storm drains wash so much debris to the ocean and the drains are overwhelmed.

Beach clean-up is a great outdoor social distance activity for all ages and the process helps our planet. We need more people to get out and help.

It is a global ocean and people can help from wherever they are. I have friends on the East coast that got buckets and went out to clean up their beach. My cousin in Illinois walked around her neighborhood and along the road collecting trash and debris.... and when they sent me photos of their full buckets, I sent them a tank top.

We are not an official organization. We are a group of people who care about the plan-et and want to see our beaches clean. Hopefully we can inspire other people to do the same. A small amount of effort makes a huge difference, especially if we work together.


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