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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2010 Resolution - Time to Walk The Talk

By: Joyce Amaro
Stormwater Public Education Manager

With a week of rain forecasted, last Sunday afternoon seemed like the perfect time for me to put my New Year resolution of doing “personal community clean-ups” into action. With my dog Dodger at my side and armed with a plastic bag and a pair of gardening gloves, Dodger and I walked a short half mile loop in the Alhambra neighborhood where I live as the drizzle began to fall. Dodger sniffed the trees and I picked up about a pound of trash in the streets’ gutters.

Now I’ve been working in the area of watershed protection for close to 20 years (February marks my 18th year with the City of Los Angeles’ Stormwater Public Education Program Division), and I know the realities and challenges of keeping our local creeks, rivers and beaches clean. I’ve seen the pictures of trash-strewn beaches and am aware of the amount of trash that finds its way into our regional waterways. But even my years of experience didn’t prepare me for the amount of cigarette butts I found in my own relatively clean middle-class neighborhood. I found plenty of flyers that had blown off of cars, several plastic candy and gum wrappers, a plastic bag here and there. This was to be expected. What I didn’t expect were the 83 cigarette butts I picked up on my half mile walk. That’s right – 83 within a half mile! I was surprised and became almost obsessive in picking them up towards the end of our walk.

I came home on Sunday having had my eyes re-opened as to how a neighborhood can appear clean, but still generate a significant number of cigarette butts that can wreak havoc on our ocean. I also returned home re-committed to continue doing personal community clean-ups at least once a week in my neighborhood. While its difficult for me to participate in larger organized community clean-ups, I can still do my part in keeping our ocean clean by doing my own personal community clean-up every week. It’s a great way to get some exercise and do my part in reducing the amount of trash flowing to our ocean.

I’ve talked the talk for almost two decades here in LA. Now it’s time to walk the talk as well!

*Photo courtesy of Long Beach's Signal Tribune

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