Coming full circle on a wide sandy beach

This year I participated in the 24th annual California Coastal Cleanup at Swami’s, along with hundreds of other environmental stewards who recognize the economic and environmental importance of keeping our beaches and coastal habitats as litter-free as humanly possible.
A highlight of
the California Coastal Commission’s Adopt-A-Beach program, Coastal Cleanup efforts take place every year on the third Saturday of September, and the results are definitely beginning to be evident. No longer are Southern California beaches fouled with discarded cigarette butts, fast food wrappers and other forms abandoned trash. After an hour and a half on the beach, I am happy to announce I found only one cigarette butt and one plastic straw.
This is not to say there was no litter to be found. Forgotten shoes and clothes, lost toys and used balloons were being pulled from the sand. All sorts of flotsam could still be found, but the amount was down significantly from years past, and this can only be seen as very good news.
I spent the bulk of my time on the beach, on my hands and knees, focused on extracting micro-trash from a 10-foot-by-10-foot area. The majority of the micro-trash retrieved was bits and pieces of Styrofoam. Lots and lots of Styrofoam. Wishing I had brought a hand rake, I wondered where all this particle pollution was coming from, and how long it had been here.
The fact that so many people came out to help make a clean beach cleaner in the name of environmental stewardship is proof that 24 years of community involvement is paying off.
My first column for The Coast News Group was one about the similarities between Sunday morning church service and cleaning an early morning beach. Beach cleanups are a form of meditation, allowing us time to reflect. Saturday at Swami’s was no different.
When I began writing in the late 1980s, I was a voice in the wilderness, the paper was the Vista Press, and my column was called “Ecologically Speaking.” Untrained with plenty to say, I wrote for free for anyone who would publish my eco-rants. It was a pre-Clinton world when environmentalism was defined as ecoterrorism and calls for ecological restraint were termed as anti-American.
Times have changed.
Environmental efficiency is no longer considered granola talk and economics are being looked at in terms of sustainability and carbon footprints. The Golden State is going green.
No longer a voice in the journalistic wilderness, environmentalism is now mainstream. As everyone goes “green” if not politically than in terms of lifestyle and consumer considerations, every effort helps. Californians, always the environmental vanguards, are pushing back at federal attempts to undermine our quality by weakening environmental standards and safeguards. We are conserving energy, water and resources.
Future-focused, it’s clear environmental stewardship is economic stewardship. It is also clear, to all willing to see, environmentalism is now mainstream. As we clean up the messes of the past, we have the privilege of looking forward to wide sandy beaches, free of plastic and other toxic conveniences.
Yeah us!

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