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By Collin Breaux

Saturday, Sept. 17, will mark the 38th annual California Coastal Cleanup Day—and local organizations are ready to welcome volunteers to Dana Point and San Clemente to participate.

Orange County Coastkeeper will host cleanups along San Clemente’s beaches, including T-Street, the pier and Calafia State Beach, from 9 a.m. to noon. Up the coastline, Stand Up to Trash is also hosting its own cleanup effort at Baby Beach and Ocean Institute in Dana Point from 9 to 11 a.m.

“At the Baby Beach location, you can clean on the water with a kayak or stand-up paddleboard,” Stand Up to Trash Founder Vicki Patterson said. “We call it the ‘last ditch effort’ before the trash goes out into the ocean.”

Participants can also clean up in the jetty area, walkways, parking lots, picnic areas, hillsides and trails.

“Our sponsors are so generous and make our cleanups so fun,” Patterson said. “At our cleanup, we get you going with coffee, hot chocolate and donuts from Coffee Importers. Once registered, you’ll receive a form from the California Coastal Commission asking you to document what you pick up.”

The partnership between Stand Up to Trash and Ocean Institute began a year ago, when the two came together for the 2021 Coastal Cleanup Day. For this year’s event, registered volunteers can expect to receive cleanup supplies after they check-in.

The state’s cleanup day is part of International Coastal Cleanup Day.

“Hopefully, the more participants are involved, the less trash there will eventually be. Removing trash from the environment prevents harmful or deadly interactions between local species and waste, keeps the debris from being broken down into harmful microplastics, and so much more,” Ocean Institute Public Programs and Volunteer Manager Sara Vaughn said.

“International Coastal Cleanup Day is extraordinary because it is an international movement dedicated to this purpose,” Vaughn continued. “We meet monthly for regular beach cleanups, but mobilizing internationally to make a difference simultaneously for the same mission is an incredible power that we are honored to be a part of.”

Stand Up to Trash is also adding in some fun elements for Saturday’s cleanup.

“Once completed, head back to the registration table to ‘weigh in’ your catch,” Patterson said. “We’ve gamified with prizes—from Killer Dana Surf Shop, Captain Dave’s, Shaka Love and Dana Wharf—for the Biggest Catch, the Smallest Catch (focusing on microplastics) and the Most Unusual.”

An educational program called Lunch & Learn will be held starting at 10:30 a.m. that day (after the weigh-in) on the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center Historic Maritime Wharf.

During the Lunch & Learn, guest speaker Julie Skoglund from International Bird Rescue will give a talk about bird rescue and rehabilitation efforts after an oil spill or entanglement. Lunch will be provided after the talk.

“Our hope is that once you become aware of the amount of trash you produce and how easily it can become marine debris, that knowledge will translate into your future purchases,” Patterson said.

“Because plastic production is set to increase by 40% by 2028, it is very important we all take inventory and see where we can cut back,” she continued. “Remembering the other two R’s in the 3R circle—Refuse and Reuse. The trash in the water impacts the planet on many levels, including harming wildlife and humans.”

Patterson said she expects there will be more trash to pick up than usual after Tropical Storm Kay’s strong winds caused debris to be strewn about the area.

“I’m out on my paddleboard almost every day, and I see so much trash, and lately, sandbags—and all the tiny threads—in the water,” Patterson said.

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at

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