WATSONVILLE — The City of Watsonville and the Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition is encouraging residents to participate in the Annual Coastal Cleanup Day, set for Saturday from 9 a.m.-noon at multiple Watsonville sites.
In preparation, city environmental staff and Tobacco Education Coalition coordinators are visiting hundreds of students to increase participation in the cleanup and draw focus toward the often overlooked, small plastic pieces such as cigarette butts. Mintie White Elementary, Watsonville High School, Pajaro Valley High School Wetlands Stewards, New School, and the Watsonville Science Workshop are a handful of the groups lending a hand.
Tara Leonard, county public health educator, said that feeling sick of cleanups is normal.
“Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is the definition of crazy,” Leonard said. “We need to take the Coastal Cleanup data back to polluting industries like big tobacco and let them know it’s time to take responsibility for their toxic waste.”
The Ocean Conservancy, international organizer of Coastal Cleanup Day, reported earlier this year that for the first time since the inception of the event more than 30 years ago, all of the top-10 items collected by volunteers around the world were made of plastic, edging out glass beverage bottles from the list.
“This event is not just about picking up trash,” said Rachel Kippen, Watsonville’s environmental projects coordinator. “It’s our most comprehensive litter snapshot in California and the data collected by volunteers truly influences solution-building. Coastal Cleanup Day data has led to stronger statewide regulation such as California’s ambitious trash amendment, and volunteer data has proven the efficacy of banning plastics.”
After the statewide bag ban, cleanup organizers reported that plastic bag litter dropped by 72 percent in comparison to years prior to the ban.
Community members are invited to multiple cleanup sites on Saturday from 9 a.m.-noon. All cleanup materials and a safety talk will be provided, along with free lunch for cleanup participants.
Watsonville Coastal Cleanup sites
• West Struve Slough at Pajaro Valley High School
• Watsonville Slough at the City of Watsonville Nature Center in Ramsay Park
• Pajaro River levee at River Park
• Cigarette butt cleanup at the City Plaza Park and downtown streets, and a walk to the Santa Cruz Metro - Watsonville Transit Center
• Palm Beach State Park at Palm State Beach parking lot