by Joanne Williams
If you’ve seen those colorful beach cleanup stations on the sand from Bodega Bay to Pacifica, you are encouraged to become a mermaid/man and contribute trash for prizes. You probably won’t grow a mermaid appendage, but you will be revered by All One Ocean (AOO), a beach cleanup organization founded by Hallie Iglehart of Mill Valley.
For every bit of plastic or Styrofoam you collect, you’ll get points—50 points for each large piece of plastic, 100 points for a cigarette lighter and 1,000 points for one cubic foot of Styrofoam, whole or in pieces. It’s like geocaching, but the prize is saving a dolphin, a turtle, a seabird or any other sea creature that can perish on a diet of stuff that we throw away.
Iglehart, an author, activist and organizer who founded AOO in 2010, has assembled impressive supporters on her advisory board, from Patricia Ellsberg of Berkeley, to artist Mayumi Oda and Wallace J. Nichols, best-selling New York Times author, among others. This almost-all volunteer group has a modest budget of $60,000 a year.
As the AOO website reminds us, many people love the sounds and smells of the ocean, and how it makes us feel. Sea creatures love it too, but around a million seabirds, turtles, whales and dolphins die each year from eating ocean plastic, Iglehart has found. According to the European Union, 80 percent of their seafood now contains plastic waste.
All One Ocean, a project of the Earth Island Institute, creates permanent, community-generated Beach Clean Up Stations (BCUS). The boxes at each station contain repurposed bags for collecting detritus. “They provide a simple way for any beachgoer to help collect trash while enjoying the beach,” Iglehart says. The idea is to fill a bag and take it to the nearest trash can.
The boxes, now called Beach TLC Stations, can be found from Bodega Bay to Hapuna Beach in Hawaii, and from Point Reyes National Seashore to Pacifica.
“As with the pilot project on Limantour Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore, community volunteers organize and maintain these permanent, do-it-yourself stations,” Iglehart says. The group has received a Ford Community Green Grant, among other honors. “Beach TLC makes every day ‘beach cleanup day,’” Iglehart reminds us. “It’s practical, educational and inspirational.”
Learn more at alloneocean.org.