Dressed in boots and gloves, armed with large trash bags, about two dozen OVS students and faculty joined the 33rd Ventura County Coastal Cleanup Day this past weekend across the Ventura Harbor’s beaches collecting plastic bottles, candy wrappers, cigarettes, and any other trash they encountered.
This was the first community service effort of the year, with students from both the Upper and Lower campus setting out to help better their coastal community along with thousands of others.
Although beach cleanup may seem like a small undertaking, the experience was incredibly beneficial for not only the environment, but also for the students involved.
Students, such as junior Soham Kondle, were able to make connections about the immense impact humans have on the environment.
“There was a direct relationship with the amount of people and where the trash was,” Soham said. “On the sidewalk there was a lot more trash than on the actual beach.”
During the two-hour excursion, Soham noticed how the wildlife native to California’s beaches is affected by trash and debris.
“There was actually a lot of plastic on that beach…all sorts of stuff that is really harmful for the birds that come,” he continued. “There were loads and loads of birds, and loads and loads of trash.”
While it is extremely important to pick up the large pieces of trash found on the sand, many people pass by the smaller pieces of plastic and debris, sometimes referred to as “microtrash,” that are also present.
Microtrash is just as, if not more, harmful to wildlife because it is often confused for bugs or food particles and then eaten.
OVS biology teacher Lisa Boyd was one of the trip’s faculty advisors and said she was proud of the students’ efforts.
“I found a couple of spots where there were little, tiny pieces of styrofoam…and I felt good about that because it was hard work,” Mrs. Boyd commented. “I felt like if I’m looking out for the wildlife, finding little pieces of styrofoam is probably a good thing.”
From as early as Kindergarten, OVS students are taught the importance of protecting and restoring the environment, but for some, this was their first time participating in a beach cleanup event.
This weekend trip served as a way for students to apply what they have learned to a hands-on project that would directly benefit their local community.
At the end of the day, all of the volunteers collected 13,088 pounds of trash and 923 pounds of recyclables, with the students feeling accomplished in their efforts to make the beach cleaner and healthier.
Soham noted that although his accomplishments were most definitely beneficial, there is still more to be done in terms of community service, and plenty of opportunities for this in Ojai .
“The ocean is a part of the culture and lifestyle for a lot of people here…if stuff gets caught from the sand and goes into the water, not only could it harm the environment but it also affects the people who use the ocean too,” Soham concluded. “There’s a lot bigger effect than for just the animals.”Share