yourhere beach clean up

Happy Earth Day! YRH’s Mission to Keep Beaches Clean

Megan Simpson

The day has finally arrived! All month long, YRH has been building up to the celebration of Earth Day. As our team focuses on sustainable travel (and local) experiences, this holiday holds a special place in our hearts. One of our *favorite* ways to show love to the earth around us? Why, our involvement in the Surfrider Foundation’s aptly (and creatively) named Hold On To Your Butt campaign.

the surfrider foundation hold on to your butts
Photo via Post & Courier

In addition to its name inspiring many “Ooh! What’s that?!” responses, this program has sparked awareness and action items surrounding discarded/littered cigarette butts throughout the city of Los Angeles. To catch you up, here are some little-known facts about cigarette butt pollution:

  • Around 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered every single year.
  • Cigarette butts are made of cellulose acetate, or thin plastic filaments, with 15-17K strands per butt—irresponsibly discarding butts puts plastic/harmful materials out into the environment.
  • Cigarette butts are the number 1 most common piece of litter removed from our public parks, trails, beaches, and community streets.
Photo via Julia Engel

The Surfrider Foundation incited the Hold On To Your Butts campaign to encourage beach-goers and locals to dispose of their cigarette butts in a response way: safely securing them in Surfrider-sponsored ashcans!

Though team YRH began our partnership with the Surfrider Foundation last year, it was our goal to get laser-focused on “our part” of the campaign this month. Throughout this year, our team has installed placed convenient (and chic) ashcans around west Los Angeles locales—all near the beach—for quick and responsible, erm, butt disposal.

We maintain all of the ashcans we install. The butts are collected and sent off to TerraCycle—an organization specializing in utilizing hard-to-recycle items. From there, the butts are transformed into reusable objects (ashtrays, benches, and even elements in functional art). We’ve been proud to maintain our Venice Beach ashcans: so much so, that we jumped at the opportunity to facilitate more.

This month, the ashcan count grew! On April 3rd, we had the pleasure of accompanying the radiant Laurel Irvine, the Development and Communications director of Shark Allies, to Point Dume to install two new ashcans. Shark Allies is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection the ocean’s most famous (and uber-necessary) predators: sharks.

Surfrider Foundation, youRhere, Shark Allies
Rekia Spencer, Installing Ashcan

Our trip to Point Dume followed Shark Allies’ fundraising event: while watching incredible live footage (via drone) of the famous Great Whale migration in the Pacific, viewers donated toward these two new ashcans. What an epic live event! See the full recording below.

Though Point Dume is an incredible location, we couldn’t help but notice the unfortunately high amount of garbage left around the beach… as well as the lack of recycling bins. This realization became even worse upon watching the Gray Whale stream, as the drone camera was able to pan over all the trash that made it to shoreline and into the sea: ripe for sealife to ingest. We hope that the attention of Hold On To Your Butts prompts city officials to consider adding more receptacles on and around the beach.

In the meantime: the beach is our collective responsibility. We’re able to bask in the sun, spend time with friends and family, splash around in the water, and create lasting memories on our shores. We should be showing each beach an immense amount of love and respect. Throw an extra bag into your car before your next beach trip and use it to collect any trash or recycling you may see—get your kids involved! Purchase eco-friendly beach toys to enjoy with your family. When your day is done, remember to bring everything, even unwanted items, with you. Leave the beach cleaner than you found it.

Additionally, you can grab some friends and join YRH and Surfrider for our one of our beach clean-ups.  

We can all do our part—in fact, we should all do our part—to keep our beaches and oceans pollution-free. This Earth Day, show a little extra love to the sand!

How are you celebrating Earth Day this year? Have you spotted one of YRH’s ashcans in Venice Beach? Let us know on Instagram! @yourherelive.

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