The largest volunteer cleanup event in Santa Barbara County had another successful year.

More than 1,074 volunteers came together at more than 25 sites from Rincon Beach Park to Guadalupe Dunes to do their part to clean up our local beaches, rivers, creeks and parks. More than 3,864 pounds of trash and 831 pounds of recyclables were collected and prevented from entering the ocean and waterways.

While the positive impact to our local coastline and inland waters is tremendous, it is even more impressive when you consider that we are part of a much larger statewide and international event. Beginning in 1984, with one concerned resident organizing the first coastal cleanup on the Oregon coast, followed in 1985 by the first California Coastal Cleanup Day, it has since grown to become the largest single-day volunteer effort in the world.

Now, every year on the third Saturday in September, people from across the globe join together to take part in International Coastal Cleanup Day. In 2013, over 58,000 volunteers removed 750,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from our beaches, lakes, and waterways in California alone. At the international level, over 648,000 individuals in 92 countries collected over 12 million pounds of ocean-bound garbage. That’s a lot of garbage.

This year’s local event was organized by the county Public Works Department Project Clean Water with assistance from Explore Ecology and the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara. Over 200 volunteers from the United Way of Santa Barbara County’s Day of Caring helped clean up at four sites.

The local cleanup is part of California Coastal Cleanup Day organized by the California Coastal Commission and International Coastal Cleanup Day organized by the Ocean Conservancy.

This tremendous cleanup effort would not be possible without the hard work and services provided by the local businesses, organizations and community members who act as beach captains and by the many friends, family members, co-workers, classmates, and fellow service club members who volunteer their time and labor. Their efforts not only help improve the health of the ocean and its wildlife, but the data collected provides important information regarding the types, quantity and location of marine debris. This data is analyzed by the Ocean Conservancy and distributed to governments and organizations throughout the world in the hopes that it will help preserve our oceans, rivers and lakes.

Next year’s Coastal Cleanup Day is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. Stay tuned for details on the county’s Project Clean Water website.

— Fray Crease is the Coastal Cleanup Day coordinator for Santa Barbara County Public Works.