Nearly 100 student from Canyon High School spent their Sunday morning picking up everything from water bottles and cigarette butts to towels and orange cones at the Santa Monica Beach.
The three-hour event, hosted by the school’s Eco-Chicos Environmental Club, was the fourth annual beach cleanup for the local high school.
“We like to target Santa Monica more because a lot of Santa Clarita residents actually go there and one of our philosophies is to think global act local,” said Dennis Young, an AP environmental science and biology teacher and advisor of the Eco-Chicos Environmental Club. “We met around Third Street and started there so as we walked toward the beach and the pier we picked up whatever we saw.”
With an overall goal of reducing the amount of pollutants in the ocean, the students picked up anything that was non-biodegradable and could harm marine mammals and birds.
Young said many of the students were surprised at how much trash was left along the streets and beaches in Santa Monica.
“They never really paid attention to how much trash was around, but, when you actually have to pick it up, they were surprised by the little bits around and the cigarette butts around,” Young said.
The students also felt accomplished in doing something that made a positive difference in both the community and the world.
“Gandhi once said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’ and they want a cleaner planet and want a more beautiful environment and they have to be the change and get out into the environment,” Young said. “I think they were gratified of their own effort in making the community beach a cleaner place and feel like they had given their time back to volunteer to make the world a better place.”
In addition to positively impacting their community, the students also saw practical applications of lessons they learned in Young’s AP Environmental Science class.
“They’re applying one of the concepts they learned called bio-magnification where toxins get magnified up the food chain,” Young said. “These toxins are consumed by plankton and invertebrates and then, as they move up the food chain, the concentration of toxins gets magnified.”
This concept of toxic magnification, or bio-magnification, can make food sources like fish deadly for birds or increase levels of mercury in seafood humans consume.
“By removing some of the trash and plastic we’re helping people as well as the marine creatures and mammals and birds,” Young said.
Young said he was proud of his students and the Eco-Chicos Environmental Club members for applying what they learned and taking action in the community.
“We are one of the only major environmental clubs in Santa Clarita that is active in engaging students to make our community a better place,” he said. “I’m proud of them, they spent three to four hours out there on Sunday morning.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_