We began collecting data at our cleanups in 2007, in an effort to track the amount and types of waste polluting local beaches and rivers. We use this data to identify trends, increase community awareness and, hopefully, influence behavior change.
Since 2007, we have led a total of 1,886 beach and river cleanups in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties! The number of cleanups we organize increases with each passing year. In 2014 alone, we led 362 cleanups (77 more than the previous year). The more cleanups we lead each year, the closer we get to an accurate picture of debris in our watershed.
In order to analyze the impact of our work and improve our programs, we have compiled our cleanup data for the last seven years. Here are a few things we found out:
- Since 2007, almost all of the top 10 trash items found during our cleanups have been decreasing on average.
- The average poundage per cleanup (trash and recyclables combined) has decreased significantly over time.
- The total number of pounds (trash and recyclables combined) collected per year has fluctuated. It is important to note that we led 50 cleanups in 2007, compared to 362 cleanups in 2014.
- The amount of plastic bags found during cleanups increased slightly in 2014. However, the total number is still significantly lower than it was prior to the implementation of local plastic-bag bans in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.
- When comparing the average pounds of trash collected per cleanup at our beach and river sites, it is clear that the San Lorenzo River is in dire need of the community’s help. Illegal dumping is a huge issue facing the river. Our work is far from over.
- Despite installing Cigarette Bait Tanks throughout Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, cigarette butt pollution continues to be a problem on local beaches and along the rivers.
It is a ton of work to keep local beaches and rivers clean—none of which would be possible without the help of our dedicated volunteers and supporters. Thank you for being a part of it!