Student volunteers show off their free Earthwise bags at Make A Difference Day
Student volunteers show off their free reusable produce bags at Make A Difference Day

THERE’S NOTHING better than seeing the shores of our San Lorenzo River clean and healthy before winter. During years with normal weather patterns, the river seasonally flushes into the Monterey Bay and with it, all the trash that’s littered along the banks. This pollution can harm our river and ocean wildlife, trash our beautiful beaches, and affect water quality. The impact could be even more significant than years past due to strong El Niño predictions. Save Our Shores was not ready to let that happen.

Last Saturday, October 24th, 35 volunteers scoured the San Lorenzo levee for trash. The cleanup was a part of the widely publicized Santa Cruz Make A Difference Day, a one-day event that encourages community members to participate in public improvement efforts.

Our volunteers were highly motivated. In less than three hours, they removed 250 pounds of trash and nearly 50 pounds of recycling from the river. The cleanup stretched along the most visible part of the San Lorenzo from Laurel Street Bridge to the Soquel Street Bridge in downtown Santa Cruz. Many of the volunteers included newly indoctrinated Sanctuary Stewards and 15 students.

“It’s nice to look back and see the progress we made. It’s so beautiful and clean now, you should’ve seen it before.” Said Logan, a graduate of our most recent Sanctuary Steward class.

The most notable finds of the Make A Difference Day San Lorenzo Cleanup include 11 needles (ouch!) and, to no surprise, hundreds of cigarette butts.

As a token of our appreciation and thanks to the support of the City of Santa Cruz, we were able to hand out free reusable produce bags from Earthwise Bag Company to help reduce plastic bag pollution along our shorelines. While many local cities and counties have implemented their own comprehensive plastic bag bans alongside California’s SB270, plastic produce bags are still not included in any of the bans.

If you are interested in getting involved in our upcoming cleanup or education efforts, please contact or for more information.

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