Sunday, October 12, 2014

Heal The Bay Service Learning Project

My name is Monica Morales and today I participated in a Heal the Bay activity with my CSULA English 101 class at Dockeweiler Beach. I had never actually participated in a service learning activity before so this was very new and intriguing for me. The project itself consisted of cleaning up or picking up trash items off the beach, including the parking lot and surrounding areas. We were to place all trash in a plastic bag and keep track of the types that we came across.

Perhaps I'll begin with something a bit more light-hearted. My team and myself found that beach goers can be very forgetful. We found five shoes. Some were singles. We were warned that we may encounter items a little more grotesque including but not limited to condoms and diapers. We encountered both but could not bring ourselves to pick the up even with our gloved hands. It was a lot of laughs but it also got us thinking why some of these were left behind, more specifically, why did a mother find it unnecessary to toss a diaper in one of the many trashcans along the beach after having changed her baby?

Something I found quite alarming and equally disturbing was the amount of Styrofoam cups and plates we found. I'm betting at least fifty of them. In one particular area of the beach, we found about twenty or so plates reminiscent of a night-before birthday party. The cake smeared all over them was the tell. I just thought to myself:"Did these people just finish their cake and toss the plate on the sand? Do they toss their styrofoam plates on the floor in their own home when they are through with them? Did the host say, "Hey, anyone who is done with their cake can just ...toss it I guess." Did a single soul even suggest the garbage can?" These are all questions I asked myself a few hours after the clean-up was over.

Cigarette butts, cigarette butts everywhere. I have found that today, one either hates or is apathetic towards smokers. So naturally, it can be shameful to come out as a smoker. Today, I find it necessary to tell you all that I enjoy the occasional cigarette. I feel compelled to do so because I must tell the world that we are not all the same. To my fellow smokers who enjoy a ben at the beach, or in any other public area, I have a message for you: please invest in a metal cigarette holder/container. Not only will it make one look super hip, but you can also conveniently put your ben out and leave the butt in the metal box until you reach a trashcan or ashtray. It's sad to see, especially out there on the sand. Personally, I use to just flick and go but the habit became unbearable. Today, I carry my pack in a metal container for the sake of morality and littering.

In conclusion, I had only visited Dockweiler beach on one other occasion prior to today's clean-up and one of my first impressions was the filth. There is trash all over the place, more-so than in any other beach I have been in California. More than Santa Monica I dare say. Participating in this activity today gave me a bit of comfort. Just knowing that there are people out there who care can be just a tinge helpful. A gentlemen on the beach asked me who we were and what we were doing this for. I said, " We're CSULA students and we're here for a Heal the Bay beach-cleanup." He gave us a thumbs up and said that what we were doing was great. He conclded with a simple, "Good job guys." That right there is the comfort I mentioned before.

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