Growing up in Los Angeles most of my life, I was used to the concrete jungle of asphalt, metal and trash accompanied by loud cars, helicopters and neighbors. The closest thing to an escape for me (15 year old me) at the time was the beach, and the closest beach I could ride my bike was Dockweiler state beach in Playa Del Rey. This beach for me, was important for my mental/physical health and well being. Growing up as the chubbiest kid in the family, the beach gave me an incentive to get out of the house and exercise by riding my bike to and on it for hours. With its 3.7 miles of ocean frontage and expansive 288 acres with a wide bicycle lane along its path. This left plenty of space to Play football with friends in the soft sand, swim in the cold ocean during a hot summer day or play the ukulele in the warm sand on a cool day. The beach just like parks, give people a chance to mentally detoxify the stresses of our day to day life. The opportunity to inhale cooler, cleaner air and look at something besides screens and billboards is a great antidepressant and is much cheaper. The bonfire pits, picnic facilities, volleyball nets, fishing areas, and youth center made Dockweiler an enticing place to get away.
However, though the beach has many benefits for us, we are definitely not benefiting the beach. Dockweiler state beach is located just behind the Los Angeles International Airport, which is the third busiest airport in the world. If you go south down the beach for about 2 miles there is also the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, which is one of the largest plants in the world. Needless to say there are tons of pollution entering this beach. The water reclamation plant discharges digested sludge into the Santa Monica Bay which spans from point Dume, to the Palos Verdes peninsula. At the same time, according to the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science and Technology journal, the level of pollution is 10 times higher within a 9 mile radius of the airport. Though these facts may be daunting it still does not take away the health benefits of beaches, it only emphasizes the need to keep them clean. Which is what inspired me to do my beach cleanup at Dockweiler on the coastal cleanup day.