Coastal Cleanup Month recognized this September

An approach to taking care of the environment during COVID-19

Augmented from one day to the entire month of September during the pandemic, Coastal Cleanup Month extends to all of Oak Park, including its duck pond.

“I firmly believe we owe it to our wild neighbors to take care of the land and the water since we entered their territory and we are the ones creating the trash and debris,” Keyla Treitman wrote to the Talon.

Keyla Treitman is the Chairperson of the Oak Park Unified School District Environmental Education and Awareness Committee. She stands as a facilitator and educator of sustainability for the community. Treitman is Heal the Bay’s Regional Ambassador for the Oak Park area related to their efforts of cleaning up the environment with their program “Coastal Cleanup Month.”

Extended from one day to the entire month of September during the pandemic, Coastal Cleanup Month aims to clean the waterways in the community so trash does not travel downstream and get into the ocean.

“The environment has been a passion of mine since I was a young girl,” Treitman wrote. “I feel like we all have an obligation  to leave a place cleaner than when we got there, a motto the Girl Scouts taught me so long ago.”

The Oak Park community has been involved in the program for four years, with many different environmental clubs at the high school and programs in the community becoming involved. Junior Leo Mazzocco leads Our Future Club at Oak Park High School, a club that participates in beach cleanups, recycling drives, Super Saturday, the school garden and more.

Augmented from one day to the entire month of September during the pandemic, Coastal Cleanup Month extends to all of Oak Park, including its duck pond.

“The Our Future Club is an environmentalist club where we work to improve our communities ecosystem in any way possible,” Mazzocco wrote.

Any student attending the high school can attend the club by contacting Mazzocco to find out more information about the meetings ([email protected]). Mazzocco believes it is important that students and the community help to maintain sustainability as Oak Park geographically is integral to keeping the oceans clean.

“Oak Park is at the head of a watershed,” OPUSD Superintendent Dr. Tony Knight said. “Which makes it an important area for this project because the trash that accumulates there, when it rains heavily, will wash down into the Medea Creek and eventually into the Malibu canyon area, then to the Malibu creek and then into the sea. So it is almost as important to clean up our area, the head of a watershed, than as you are on the beach.”

Emails about Coastal Cleanup Month were sent on the Oak Park ParentSquare to the families of the community for them to sign up and help raise awareness and participation in the event. 

There are many ways to be involved in Coastal Cleanup Month beyond attending the specific cleanup dates. 

“You can clean up whenever you want to so it does not have to be on any particular day or event,” Knight said. “So you can sign up and we are just asking people to keep track of how much they are collecting so we can turn that in to Heal the Bay.”

The program has taken procedures to ensure the safety of those who participate.

“This year, with social distancing in place, we are asking people to sign up online directly with Heal the Bay and to report what they collected on an app called Clean Swell,” Treitman wrote.

In Oak Park, these cleanups take place in the local neighborhoods, parks and along Medea Creek itself. Treitman also works as the “site captain,” coordinating the event for the community. In the past, when clean ups were based in-person at Oak Park High School, Treitman has had a very different role. 

“I publicize the event, gather needed supplies provided by Heal the Bay, and run the event. The day consists of signing people in, receiving their waivers, holding a safety talk, giving instruction, handing out supplies, sending people off and waiting for them to return,” Trietman wrote.

The county also helps to repaint and clean out the storm drains.

“I think it’s a great thing for everybody to do in order to raise awareness that what we do – our trash in the streets and on the trails, the run-off from our yards and landscape space, the chemicals we use have a huge impact on the local environment, the watershed, and the ocean,” Knight said.

Knight believes Coastal Cleanup Month is a great way to raise community awareness to help protect the environment.  

“I would hope that most people feel the same way as I do about the importance of environmental stewardship and being responsible for taking care of our surroundings for the sake of the Earth and its inhabitants,” Treitman wrote.