by Janet Koed
Trash pickup with Gaviota Coast Conservancy is no walk in the park. Unlike beach cleanups where our volunteers have strolled scenic sandy places looking for discarded matter, highway cleanups present less serene surroundings. Semi-trucks go whizzing by. Foxtails attack our ankles. A seedy side of humanity is revealed. Perhaps Gaviota beach goers are a little more aware of keeping their favorite places tidied up than those people speeding down the highway to get from one place to another as quick as possible.
It’s my experience that sunbathers and surf rompers are more likely to leave a child’s plastic beach toy behind. Sure, there are the party people who don’t always take their beer cans or plastic cups back to the recycling bins. On the stretch of Hwy 101 that GCC is responsible for cleaning once a month, it’s common to find cigarette butts, fast food containers, rags and plastic bottles. Some people don’t think twice about throwing their Starbucks cups and beer cans out the window. There is even a fair amount of toilet paper tossed or left (don’t ask). Face masks are a little more sparce now than they were the past two years.
The volunteers who regularly help with this task like to trade stories of unusual finds. Today George and I came upon a conglomeration of broken headlight and bumper plastic pieces in one place. As we looked around, we found a dead deer nearby in the bushes. There was also a dead crow down the way. We pieced together a sad story. George shared of the time he found a wallet with a woman’s drivers license and credit cards in it. She was very grateful to get the call that her wallet was found and that she could recover the contents. Last month Greg found a handgun! It wasn’t loaded but there was some speculation, within our group, about how it got there. On another excursion, a round of live ammunition was discovered. Oh, and Phil once found a large bag of marijuana. What happened there?
Finds of $1 to $20 bills have been reported by Gaviota cleanup crew members. We hope the trash-tossers will get more generous with their cash. Better yet, donate to Gaviota Coast Conservancy !
A majority of the trash we find on our monthly highway 101 clean sweeps is plastic that would eventually end up in the ocean. Help us keep Gaviota’s scenic highway healthy!
We are joining Jack Johnson’s plastic free campaign and eliminating disposable plastics from Gaviota through our monthly highway cleanup commitment. Visit www.AllAtOnce.org. GCC also supports Jack’s goals of sustainable, regenerative agriculture practices. We will share information at the October 5 Jack Johnson concert.