Los Angeles Kids Send a Message to the World: Clean Up Our Ocean!

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Today marks the 21st Annual Kids Ocean Day, a day that inspired nearly 4,000 kids, teachers and volunteers to clean up Dockweiler State Beach in Playa Vista, California.  Through the clean-up, the kids sent a message so big it could only be seen from the sky: protect our ocean from trash and plastic litter.

Kids Ocean Day is the culmination in a year-long program by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education that teaches kids about how neighborhood litter flows to the ocean, ultimately endangering or killing marine life.  More than 3,500 students from 35 schools in Los Angeles participated in the day’s activities. After the beach clean-up, the kids formed an aerial art image in the sand that spelled out a message from the sea.

Designed by a Los Angeles student and brought to life by aerial artist John Quigley, the picture shows a speech bubble emanating from the ocean, with the children themselves forming the voice of the sea and raising awareness about the urgent problem of plastic marine litter.

Plastic marine pollution is a daunting crisis for the marine environment, with devastating effects.  As my colleague Leila Monroe has blogged, an estimated 20 million tons of plastic litter enters the ocean each year.  Plastic forms a large portion of our waste stream and typically does not biodegrade in the marine environment.  And it has a wide range of adverse environmental and economic impacts, from wildlife deaths and degraded coral reefs to billions of dollars in cleanup costs, damage to vessels, and lost tourism and fisheries revenues. (A recent report showed that California communities alone spend $428 million annually to keep trash out of our waterways.)

This year’s Kids Ocean Day brought awareness to the issue.  A one-day cleanup event, Kids Ocean Day motivates the students of Los Angeles to care about their environment, involves them in community service, and instills in them a sense of environmental stewardship.  Kids Ocean Day in Los Angeles was organized by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education, the California Coastal Commission, the City of Los Angeles, Keep Los Angeles Beautiful and Spectral Q. 

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“Keeping our beaches clean is a citywide effort,” said Board of Public Works President Kevin James. “For 21 years, the City of Los Angeles has been a proud partner of Kids Ocean Day. We’ve educated and helped bring tens of thousands of kids to the beach because children play an essential role in keeping our local waterways and ocean clean for future generations. We can’t do it alone. By teaching environmental stewardship and developing good responsible habits early, these kids learn lessons about taking care of the planet and preventing pollution that can last a lifetime.”

Taking care of the planet and preventing ocean pollution are certainly lofty goals.  But at today’s 21st Annual Kids Ocean Day, children from Los Angeles showed us that obtaining those goals are critical for our future.  This is inspiring, because now, more than ever, the ocean needs a new wave of advocates.

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Nearly 4,000 Los Angeles kids, teachers and volunteers send a giant text message from the ocean to “CLEAN ME UP :)”  as part of the 21st annual Kids Ocean Day Adopt-A-Beach Clean-Up organized by the Malibu Foundation, City of Los Angeles, Spectral Q, Keep LA Beautiful and the California Coastal Commission in Los Angeles May 15, 2014. The kids are alerting the world about the need to help the ocean and protect it from the everyday trash and plastic litter that flow down the streets, killing marine life and polluting food resources.   Photo Credit: Jeff Pantukhoff, Spectral Q, Kids Ocean Day