Together We Can Save Our Shores
By Shannon Van Every, Director
Being conveniently located just a few blocks away from the ocean and surrounded by beautiful redwoods, we at Force4 are fortunate to enjoy the all that the surrounding nature provides. From hikes and beach days with friends to relaxing lunchtime walks, there’s never a lack of resources to help us reawaken our imagination, de-stress or simply enjoy the sun and saltwater. With all that Santa Cruz provides to us and the delicate, global ecosystem that sustains our lives, it was only natural for us to team up with Save Our Shores to help preserve coastal health for future generations to enjoy just as we do.
Santa Cruz is well-recognized for the boardwalk, beaches and surf culture, drawing over a million tourists from all over the world each year. The mix of locals, visitors and university students is part of what gives Santa Cruz its unique charm. However, this influx of beachgoers coupled with a lack of awareness and education has a profound impact on the local habitat and greater marine environment via the vast amounts of trash left behind and our complex dependence on plastic. This growing amount of litter and debris continues to be a surmounting threat to marine life, causing thousands of fish, seabirds and marine mammals to die each year as they ingest or become entangled in it.
Save Our Shores’s mission is to steward clean shores, healthy habitats and living waters to foster the Monterey Bay and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The organization accomplishes this through facilitating maintenance and restoration, expanding education and leveraging data to support policy. Over the past couple of months, we’ve been volunteering for their clean shores program, conducting cleanups at Natural Bridges State Beach, just a few blocks away from our office.
We record each piece of trash collected on data cards, which are used to assess key litter sources and provide data to improve packaging and policy. During our first beach clean up, we tallied over 600 pieces of litter, weighing in at over 8 pounds, collecting everything from plastic straws to empty cans plus forsaken clothing and beach toys. The most abundant types of litter on the beach are:
- Plastic pieces
- Cigarette butts
- Plastic food wrappers
- Polystyrene (foam) pieces
- Plastic to-go items
- Paper pieces
Although our beach cleanups with Save Our Shores and similar efforts across the globe are tremendously impactful, they’re a stark reminder that due diligence, education and advocacy will be key to preserving the longevity of the ocean’s natural beauty and wildlife. In addition to participating in beach cleanups and other events with organizations like Save Our Shores, Force4 is committed to reducing waste by being a fully digital organization. Check out Save Our Shores for more information on the organization plus easy-to-follow advice on how we can protect and enjoy our natural world together.