Anyone who’s spent time enjoying the natural world has most likely heard the directive, “Leave it better than you found it.” Sage advice — especially when it comes to our beaches — where a lot of trash ends up. “Every part of the shoreline is littered with plastic bags, straws, takeout containers and water bottles,” says Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of BayKeeper, an organization dedicated to investigating pollution, patrolling the coastline and identifying polluters since 1989.
On Earth Day and beyond, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in local beach cleanups, and the benefits are far-reaching. “When you clean up your neighborhood parks and beaches, you’re protecting the bay’s fish and birds from trash, and you’re helping to protect the health of our ocean, too,” Choksi-Chugh says. So as the weather warms, get together with friends, family and local organizations to help keep Marin beaches pristine. Here are a few to join.
No need to wait for a scheduled beach cleanup. With BayKeeper, you can register as a volunteer and then get friends, family and concerned residents to pitch in for a cleanup day. Record trash picked up on their app to help them further understand environmental impact.
Marin photographer and owner of the LOVEMARIN retail store in Sausalito Jessica Norelli Cox plans regular beach cleanup days with her three children and hopes to get other families involved. “When kids clean a beach it not only gets them thinking about the negative impacts of trash, plastics and chemicals on the health of our land, birds, animals and marine life, but it also influences the way they view the impact we can make in our schools, neighborhoods and the greater community,” Cox says. The shop’s website lists upcoming cleanup meetups, as well as other community beautification events.
An illustrious and longstanding force in the fight for healthy oceans and shorelines, Surfrider Foundation hosts Marin beach cleanups on Saturdays and Sundays every five or six weeks.
This San Rafael shop holds two annual events to clean up the San Rafael Creek that leads out to the bay: an Earth Day event on April 21 and another on National Coastal Cleanup Day, Sept. 18. “We also support schools and companies by providing free or subsidized rental gear for those to want to take part in the cleanup but don’t have their own gear,” says partner David Wells.
More Ways to Help the Planet: Earth Day Events
It’s the 25th anniversary of the beloved Ridge to Bridge, a trail adventure for hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians. Participants can either join the in-person supported event on April 30th in the Marin Headlands, or cn opt for the self-guided version with 9 trail options, ongoing throughout March and April.
Jordan Winery celebrates Earth Week with a hiking tour of its vast 1,200-acre estate with a unique hiking adventure hosted in Sonoma County. Three hikes are being offered during Earth Week to honor our planet and celebrate its natural resources. Hikers will get to enjoy the fresh air and panoramic views while learning about the latest sustainable farming and land conservation efforts at Jordan.
The Walt Disney Family Museum is pleased to debut its first Cause Awareness exhibition, Creative Conservation: The Art of Endangered Animals. Presented in conjunction with Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book: Making a Masterpiece, this original exhibition features painted creations by rescued and rehabilitated animals and wildlife-inspired artwork contributed by human collaborators. Creative Conservation will be on view in the museum’s Lower Lobby and Theater Gallery beginning Earth Day, Friday, April 22.
Tall ship Matthew Turner, will be out on the San Francisco Bay to celebrate Earth Day. This 132’ wooden brigantine, built in Sausalito, was launched in 2017 and sailing the Bay since 2020. She is an unique educational platform, serving students of all ages in Seamanship, Marine Science, Nautical History and Team Building instruction. The sails is run by Call of the Sea, a nonprofit supporting on-the-water environmental educational programs to youth.
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Richard Wright is a writer from Marin whose work has appeared in San Francisco Magazine, SOMA, 944, The Olympian and numerous online publications. He has an MFA from St. Mary’s College of California in creative writing and lives in Sausalito with his wife, Stephanie.