On June 18, 2016, a dozen au pairs from Au Pair in America joined hundreds of volunteers from the surrounding communities of Venice Beach to clean up the trash on our beautiful shores. The au pairs came from all over the world, including Brazil, China, Sweden, South Africa, Mexico and Panama.
For many years, the non-profit organization Heal the Bay has organized clean ups in Southern California in an effort to collect data for science, education and advocacy purposes. This month’s clean up stood out because it was part of a month long celebration of our oceans, with June 8 being World Oceans Day.
The au pairs were first directed to registration and received a safety and awareness talk from a Heal the Bay volunteer. They learned that most of the trash they would be picking up would come in the form of “small pieces” such as plastic bottle caps, straws and cigarette butts. These pieces of trash are too small to be picked up by the cleaning crew and they are also hard to find and require a careful search.
After receiving the cleaning supplies consisting of a bucket and a glove as well as a cleanup data card, the au pairs proceeded to hunt for trash. A few years ago, Styrofoam pieces were much more common on the shores, but thanks to the contribution of Heal the Bay and the efforts of many volunteers like the au pairs, the city council eventually banned Styrofoam from restaurants in Santa Monica.
It is a great feeling knowing that the au pairs helped to make Southern California coastal waters and watersheds safer, healthier and cleaner. Thanks to everyone who participated!