The Giving Beach: Students Protect Our Local Shorelines

By Marianne Keith, Program Manager and Gaby Antonova, Development and Communications Manager

Third grade student from Maya Lin Elementary School proudly display their trash collection data sheet and tongs.

Perfectly overlooking the San Francisco Bay, Crab Cove offers its wide, sandy beaches and sun-soaked grassy field to families and school communities for play and exploration by the bay. However, this gift can come at a cost. Picnic trash and pieces of plastic often get left behind on the beach and become marine plastic pollution, including microplastics that enter the watershed. Third grade students at Maya Lin Elementary School in Alameda learned about marine plastic pollution in KIDS for the BAY’s Watershed Rangers Program, funded by the City of Alameda, and were struck by the reality that their local shorelines are being polluted. They decided to use their newfound knowledge and take action to improve the health of their watershed by performing a beach trash clean-up at Crab Cove!

During the clean-up, students noticed a lot of trash scattered across the beach. One student named Omar observed, “Someone left all their beach toys by the water! Is that considered trash now?” KIDS for the BAY Instructor, Marianne Keith, explained that people’s lost items often become trash. “In this case,” she said, “if someone does not pick up those beach toys, they will wash away into the bay and become pollution.” The students exclaimed, “We should pick them up right away!”

Students worked in pairs to pick up the trash and record their findings. Natalie noticed, “There are a lot of small pieces of trash caught in the seaweed on the shore. This is really bad because some animals eat seaweed and live in seaweed.” Omar shared, “We mostly found tiny pieces of plastic because people forget it on the beach and it is broken down into little pieces by the water.”

The students collected 2,425 pieces of trash, totaling more than 16 gallons of diverted future marine plastic pollution! Our inspired student environmentalists are changing the ending of the age old story and Giving Back to our local natural spaces that are always giving so generously to all of us.

KIDS for the BAY