We at neighborhood love joined the Friends of the Los Angeles River, FOLAR, for the annual river clean up. FOLAR hosted three days of clean up in 2014. We attended the group in Lake Balboa in the Sepulveda Basin Park near the Wildlife Reserve.
The experience was an eye opener. It was remarkable what we ended up pulling out of the river, a large laundry basket, license plates, clothes and a shopping cart.
I was shocked at the number of plastic bottle caps and plastic bags that was seen in the river. I could see dozens of them floating on top of the water. Since attending the clean-up, I have started to pick up 5 bottle caps every time I go to the park.
The ground was littered with thousands of plastic bags that had become buried and compressed into a thick layer like sedimentary rock. Plastic bags covered tree branches. I tried pulling on one of the bags out of the ground and it just exposed three other layers of dirt and bags – depressing!
No wonder we have banned plastic bags in Los Angeles County. The ban started for grocery stores and large retail stores and now applies with small businesses as well. According to an article in the Huff Post, “About $2 million a year is spent to clean up plastic bag litter in Los Angeles. Sanitation authorities estimate more than 228,000 bags are distributed in the city every hour.” After seeing the situation first hand, I have no issue with the ban. To date there are 75 cities that have passed similar bans.
It was enlightening to see the excitement people had for cleaning up our city and environment. I noticed people’s determination in getting a hold of the trash they spotted. It took some creative maneuvers to accomplish the task. People created tools and we even had one of our own members fall into the river while trying to fish out a floating bottle. The next time I go, I will come better prepared. I considered that a pool net may be the perfect to bring.
Another interesting aspect to the cleanup is that FOLAR collects all the trash at the end of the day. It is sorted, logged and weighed and recorded. They have even captured the most common brand names, when they were legible. The most common trash brand names were Cheetos®, Fritos®, and Doritos® chip bags, Target® shopping bags, Capri-Sun® juice containers, McDonald’s McCafe® cups, Coca-Cola® cans, Rust-Oleum® spray cans, Breakfast Breaks® and Blue Bunny® Ice Cream wrappers. Another interesting fact is that there are even significant differences noted in the trash that is collected between the sites, e.g. the trash composition in Lake Balboa is different than in Compton Creek.
I have to say the only drawback was losing my iPhone to water damage when it ended up in the river with me waist deep in marshy river water. That’s life I guess, but still a good cause.
We will be joining them again in the future. We will send a shout out to all of you to come join us and show your Neighborhood Love with FOLAR. If you want to see what they are up to these days on your own, follow the link to see their website.
Friends of the LA River, FOLAR
570 W. Ave 26 #250
Los Angeles, CA 90065