The wind blew sand into our faces, made us run after the paper and plastic we were trying to collect with our crab-like pincher-picker-uppers. Exhilarating!
My son and I were participating in a beach event, sponsored by Surfrider and Children 4 Change – a local non-profit youth empowerment organization. Children 4 Change invites children and their families to volunteer in positive activities that help make a better world, such as assisting those in need at food banks or homeless shelters or the humane society. Our action involved cleaning the San Francisco shoreline of its trash.
The effort involved was minimal: after overcoming the initial Sunday morning feet-dragging, the action entailed a forty-minute commute there and back, and a hour or so of beach work (3 hours total). The event sponsors provided all necessary equipment.
The benefits of doing the action far exceeded the output involved. In addition to creating a cleaner beach, we enjoyed spending time outside on a beautiful coast with others, experiencing the elements of sun, wind and water. The sport of who could fill up their bucket first kept us competitively scanning the sands, collecting bottles and beach toys, wrappers and cans, and, sadly, needles. So many environmental actions involve slow incremental change. But the impact of ridding a beach of its trash is immediate and visible and quite satisfying.
Without a doubt, it was a productive and fun morning that positioned us nicely for an afternoon spent munching chips and guacamole, watching our team play, and alas lose, in the Superbowl.