Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earthday Volunteering at Los Angeles River (FoLAR)

(Picture 1)
My FoLAR partner Ingelbert
and I ready to make a difference!
(Picture 2)
Veteran Cheeto bag of the L.A. River
Hello fellow classmates! My name is Emily Pascua, if you're taking English 2030 (Technical Writing) with Ximena Hernandez it is most likely you had to participate in FoLAR's Los Angeles River event. I for myself did. And today on Saturday April 22nd, I learned about three valuable environmental-related lessons: all trash goes somewhere, trash is slowly killing our planet both aesthetically and physically, and plastic is stubborn and literally invincible. Although I enjoyed watching everybody play an individual but crucial roll in helping the environment, being part of the actual experience made me realize in a first-hand perspective of how real of a problem trash is; especially non-biodegradable trash. The first and most common piece of trash was plastic bags. They decorated everywhere: under dirt, over trees, and snugged tight between crevices of rocks (Picture 3). Plastic was so prevalent in the Los Angeles River, I found myself questioning why haven't we stopped using them earlier? For what I remember, the whole plastic bag awareness-craze began only a few years ago from today, yet these bags seemed to pollute our city even before then.

In a documentary directed by Angelina Sun called Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, this problem of plastic actually becomes evident. In the documentary, Sun explains and also visually shows where plastic goes; to the "Pacific Garbage Patch". The Pacific Garbage Patch is an island supposedly an island three-times the size of Texas that's full of complete garbage (mainly plastic). The documentary exposes the horrors of our everyday "necessity" plastic; how it has been affecting wild life like Albatrosses and marine life who accidentally feed themselves and their young small pieces plastic. Also, ocean life in which huge fish nets made of non-biodegradable material that rake the ocean floor, destroying coral (Sun). It's a pretty sad thought that everything from the river beds, including the L.A. river, will eventually become a part of the non biodegradable garbage patch.

Aside from the plastic bags, it was a pretty heartbreaking moment noticing how many of the other trash (such as clothes and car-accessories) where found entangled between tree branches. Although my partner Ingelbert Figueroa (Picture 1) and I attempted to pull them away from the branches, we had to ultimately give up. This was because the majority of the other trash seemed to be unrecoverable due to the strong branches that intertwined between them. To me, the only solution would be to resort to completely destroying the tree all together (which is horrible). Altogether, the event was lively it was also ironically disheartening. Disheartening because of the overwhelming amount of hardcore number-six plastics that littered the river bed. I remember from a slide-show we saw in class that the L.A. River's steep path is responsible for the entanglement of garbage on trees because of the strong currents during rainy seasons. In fact, to an extent it almost seemed impossible to clean it all up entirely. However with that said, the event also made me realize that people do actually notice and care about this problem; how individually, we can still make a difference one person at a time.
(Picture 3)
Guess: actual trash or Halloween? Trash!
(Picture 4)
I did not want to fall into those
waters at all.