Planet Rehab 6th Annual Hands Across the Sand: Beach Clean-Up Fundraiser
by Claribel Wu
California is envied (and slightly despised) by the other 49 states for its temperate weather and beautiful beaches. As Californians, we have the responsibility to protect these beaches and their inhabitants. Planet Rehab is an organization dedicated to propagating knowledge about environmental issues and protecting at-risk species. On May 16th, at 8:30 AM at Huntington Beach (meeting at the Pier), Planet Rehab is hosting a beach cleanup fundraiser that will allow individuals to personally make a difference. For the 6th year, Planet Rehab will be participating in Hands Across the Sand, which allows participants to publicly display their solidarity with the ocean by joining hands across the shoreline. For the past six years, this event has provided the unique opportunity for people to support their local beaches and spread awareness to others about the importance of protecting our marine animals and habitats.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of many reasons that Planet Rehab, the first organization in California to join this event, decided to embrace Hands Across the Sand and educate people about this pressing matter. Although the title creates a mental image of a monumental garbage heap, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is actually a slowly rotating “soup” of micro plastics and other debris. It is the result of accumulated, non-biodegradable waste products. Eight million pieces of litter enter the world’s oceans – daily. Plastic, a large part of this litter is extremely toxic to marine life because it breaks down into microscopic pieces through the process of photo-degradation. Why does this matter? Well, it means that every plastic product dumped in the ocean will continue to pollute the waters and disrupt the sea life for eternity – that is, unless it is removed.
The magnitude of the Garbage Patch makes it impossible to measure just how much trash it contains. Scientists have collected samples within a single square mile, discovering a devastating 1.9 million bits of trash. Entire food webs are disrupted because these clouds of debris block sunlight from the algae and plankton, which are autotrophic organisms that depend on photosynthetic functions to survive. Algae and plankton are the primary producers of marine ecosystems, and they produce 50% of all the oxygen in the world. The Garbage Patch affects everyone, ranging from seafood-lovers and environmental activists to simply someone who breathes oxygen.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in particular lies between Hawaii and California; thus, this seemingly peripheral threat is actually an immediate issue to us Californians. Although this issue sounds overwhelmingly formidable, it can be mitigated by the combined efforts of educated and active individuals. Every step taken towards sustainable industrial practices and habitat protection is a step forward. No small effort is wasted. Hands Across the Sand is an opportunity for community members to join together for a common cause: the well being of our beautiful beaches, and ultimately the well being of the world’s oceans. Every plastic you potentially pick up is one less contribution to the Garbage Patch, and one added contribution to the quality of marine habitats.
Not to fear, you can be part of the solution in less physical ways as well. Donations can be made to the organization at , and simply spreading awareness furthers the cause immensely. Sponsorship opportunities are available as well, by contacting Gary Mitchell at (323) 350 - 0873.
There is always a way for you to make a difference.