Santa Barbara Channelkeeper teamed up with U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal and 35 community members to clean up West Beach on Aug. 24. In less than two hours, the group collected nearly 40 pounds of trash as they combed a section of the beach from the harbor to the mouth of Mission Creek.

“Despite a clean appearance at first glance, we still always manage to find a lot of trash on our beach clean-ups,” said Amanda Kelley, communications coordinator for Channelkeeper. “Beach grooming can’t get to the smaller pieces of micro-trash that we pick up during our clean-ups.

“Our volunteers are really the last line of defense against trash getting into the ocean.”

Among the volunteers was a group of fourth-graders from several local schools who had organized themselves into an environmental club, using the beach clean-up as their inaugural club meeting. The students said they were inspired to form the club by Greta Thunberg, 15-year-old Swedish climate activist.

The students, along with Carbajal and other volunteers, collected Styrofoam pieces, small bits of plastic, and cigarette butts, among other pieces of trash that are too small to be caught by beach grooming. Some of the larger items found included a plastic crate and a muddy beach blanket, retrieved from the water’s edge.

“Protecting our oceans and public lands is a top priority for the Central Coast and a top priority for me in Congress,” said Carbajal. “I’m glad to have partnered with Santa Barbara Channelkeeper to bring together people of all ages, backgrounds and experiences for a successful beach clean-up.

“We need bold climate action at every level, including in our own communities, and I’m proud that Central Coast residents take that responsibility to heart.”

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds through science-based advocacy, education, field work and enforcement. Learn more at

— Amanda Kelley for Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.