By their powers combined, local students and environmentalists are getting ready to mount a Halloween cleanup campaign in Isla Vista that would make even Captain Planet proud.
The Shoreline Preservation Fund’s (SPF) Coastal Service Program and the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District’s (IVRPD) Adopt-A-Block program are coordinating the local cleanup efforts this year, bringing hundreds of students together to scour I.V. for litter over Halloween and the preceding weekend. SPF Advisor Scott Bull said the programs aim to combat the large amounts of litter deposited on the streets in the wake of the annual Halloween revelry.
“It’s almost shocking to look at how much trash is left [after Halloween],” Bull said. “I would encourage anyone to walk Del Playa in the morning to see it. With all the single shoes and bits of costume left, you could put together a whole costume for next year.”
The Coastal Service Program, which organizes beach and street cleanups to help prevent I.V.’s trash from contaminating the ocean, expects at least five student groups to take part in its daily cleanup sessions over Halloween weekend, Program Coordinator Lauren Cobbe said. Cobbe said the program offers $50-100 grants as an incentive for groups to participate, and allows groups to keep any money they make through redeeming the recyclable items they collect.
Adopt-A-Block Supervisor Jacob Womack said he anticipates over 200 volunteers from sports clubs, fraternities, sororitiesand other student organizations to help the organization pick up trash from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4. Womack said Adopt-A-Block collected 8,000 pounds of trash during last year’s post-Halloween cleanup – close to the average amount of garbage the program collects in an entire quarter.
Last year, over 300 volunteers helped make last year’s cleanup progress rapidly, Womack said.
“There’s been a huge interest,” Womack said. “I couldn’t believe the amount of volunteers last year. Within a day and a half of Halloween, we had cleaned up.”
Womack said Adopt-A-Block is focusing on fixing up the streets prior to Halloween this year. As part of National Make a Difference Day last Saturday, volunteers removed litter and graffiti from local streets to prepare for the holiday weekend.
“We’re trying to make it as clean as possible before Halloween,” Womack said.
The cleanup efforts following Halloween often attract a wide range of student organizations, Bull said – not just environmental groups.
“It involves people in groups who wouldn’t normally have done activities like this,” Bull said. “Hopefully they can pass that awareness on to other members and encourage their members to help play a part in keeping our community clean.”
Second-year Spanish major Valerie Arribeno, a member of Raices de Mi Tierra- a Mexican folk dance group for UCSB students – said the group will send 10 to 15 of its members to participate in the Coastal Service Program cleanup on Oct. 29.
“The trash left during Halloween is an issue because it makes our streets look bad,” Arribeno said. “My group is concerned because we would like to help in keeping the environment we live in clean.”
Los Curanderos, a campus group for Chicano and Latino students in pre-health studies, is another organization participating in the program’s Oct. 29 cleanup. Los Curanderos chair and fourth-year physiology major Mary Garcia said the combination of heavy foot traffic and few garbage receptacles on streets like Del Playa Drive contributes to the litter problem during Halloween in I.V.
“It’s like a big street party,” Garcia said. “But since it’s really not a party, there’s no trash cans or places to put trash.”
Los Curanderos has been involved with past cleanups and will continue to participate in local litter removal efforts, Garcia said. She said her group raises some money every year by participating in the SPF cleanup events.
“We have done it in the past – beach cleanups and a DP street cleanup,” Garcia said. “I intend on doing it again, whatever’s available. It’s one of the easiest ways to raise money but it’s not our primary means.”
Students can take steps to eliminate litter while still enjoying their Halloween weekend, Cobbe said.
“If you’re throwing a party, have trash cans at your house,” Cobbe said. “Try to be conscious, try to make your guests aware. Try not to throw things off cliffs or out of cars. Don’t throw pumpkins. Yeah, they’re biodegradable, but not on the streets.”
Bull said there are plenty of places other than the street where people can leave their litter.
“Hold on to your costumes,” Bull said. “You can lose part of your costume really easily. There are so many dumpsters along the street – instead of throwing that cup on the ground, all you have to do is look. Every little bit helps.”
MarBorg Industries, which has provided I.V. with waste management services for nearly 40 years, is scheduling several extra trash pickup dates along DP and Sabado Tarde Road before and after Halloween, said MarBorg Vice President David Borgatello.
“There’s so many people in such a small period of time,” Borgatello said. “There’s a tremendous amount of trash generated. I am going to run an extra truck Saturday to make sure all the bins are empty… Monday morning, I’m going to run an extra truck to clean the area up good, too – and Tuesday, an extra truck to get everything.”
MarBorg replaced every damaged or graffiti-covered garbage bin on DP over the summer, Borgatello said, and the company hopes to avoid making further replacements this year as a result of Halloween mischief. Borgatello said a number of local garbage bins have been set on fire in previous years, costing the company an average of $300 to remove and replace each damaged bin.
“There have been years when the whole 6600 block had bins lit on fire,” Borgatello said. “At the beginning of this year, DP looked beautiful – all nice and clean. I’d hate to see this Halloween weekend leave a bunch of burnt bins.”