Environment

Volunteers fan out to clean up SLO County beaches. Here’s how much trash they picked up

Volunteers help pick up trash at SLO County beaches on Coastal Cleanup Day

Volunteers fanned out across San Luis Obispo County, including here at Olde Port Beach in Avila, on Saturday morning to help pick up trash at area beaches as part of Coastal Cleanup Day.
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Volunteers fanned out across San Luis Obispo County, including here at Olde Port Beach in Avila, on Saturday morning to help pick up trash at area beaches as part of Coastal Cleanup Day.

The order of the day on San Luis Obispo County beaches Saturday was cleanup — and locals came out in big numbers to scour the shores and waterways for refuse during the 34th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day.

More than 1,200 volunteers collected 4,701 pounds of trash from 35 cleanup sites, according to the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO), the county’s organizing body for the event for the past 14 years. They also gathered 963 pounds of recyclable materials.

“There’s a tremendous amount of trash that’s in the ocean, and it represents a formidable pollution problem for us,” said Tom Esser, site coordinator at Olde Port Beach in Avila.

Esser said organizers also log what sorts of things were picked up, noting that volunteers on Saturday found everything from a kayak paddle to discarded coat hangers from roasting hot dogs over a fire.

“It’s satisfying to me; I enjoy being outdoors and being able to hike and being able to enjoy the outdoors in a clean place free of trash,” Esser said. “That’s a personal reason, and I guess on a larger scale, I think it’s important that we keep our environment clean and find out what kind of trash is being deposited out there so we can find some means to try and reduce that.”

The three-hour event took place at primarily coastal locations, from San Simeon Cove to Nipomo but also included Arroyo Grande Creek, Sinsheimer Park and Lopez and Margarita lakes, according to ECOSLO.

Tribune photographer Joe Johnston contributed to this report.

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