Regarding the Daily Nexus’ recent story on Floatopia’s threat to the environment (“Floatopia Threatens Environment,” April 9, 2009), and Josh Taylor’s column (“Don’t Trash Our Trade” Daily Nexus, April 9, 2009), I think there’s a very strong need for students to reflect on what happened.
It was fun to be out on the beach with so many others and to have a great time. That’s what so many people at UCSB love to do, including me. But that doesn’t justify being total slobs and ruling out any shame on our part from the mess we created.
One good thing about Halloween’s expected debacle is the massive student push to clean up after themselves. This last Halloween, volunteers got over 300 large black trash bags of garbage off the streets. As Taylor points out, frats and sororities, I.V. Surfrider, the Environmental Affairs Board and so many other student groups and individuals help out to keep the streets clean. And organizations like I.V. Recreation and Parks Dept. and A.S. Coastal Fund help to fund outreach to bring hundreds of volunteers together in a concerted effort.
But basically nothing on that scale happened with Floatopia. As a member of EAB and Board Member of the Coastal Fund, I organized a beach cleanup along with Adrian Evarts, co-chair for I.V. Surfrider. We had about 45 volunteers out there on Sunday morning, and A.S. Recycling was out there at 6 p.m. the day before. The result? Well, all that trash you saw piled up along DP and Embarcadero was what we recovered, and we had no way of disposing it because there was too much.
The Coastal Fund sponsors campus organizations to host beach cleanups. Normally, you have to weigh the amount of trash for the program’s records, but we just gave up on weighing our trash this time. There was so much of it, and it was coming in so fast, and not in bags. We just piled it up on the myriad of abandoned inflatable boats scattered along the coastline and carried them up. After spending an extra hour out there cleaning up, my estimate was that there were at least four dumpsters worth of garbage. We sorted some of the recyclables out but had to wait until the next day for the garbage company to come and get it.
Of course, that doesn’t include what was picked up the day before or what was left on the beach. There was so much that we couldn’t get it all, and the Coastal Fund had to get more student groups out there on Monday and Tuesday because it was so bad. All the volunteers, and even passersby expressed disgust at the mess (a few of them even helped out a bit).
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that people were able to have a good time the first week back. But let’s be adults here. We need to discuss how we’re going to handle this type of impact if we want it to keep on happening. Associated Students Officers, EAB, Coastal Fund, A.S. Recycling and many other student groups are going to start working together to deal with this.
But we need help from everyone who wants to take part in Floatopia. We need volunteers to help clean up. We need people to speak with their peers about being respectful of the area. Most importantly, we need everyone to be a little more conscious about the waste they’re creating, and to act in a way that respects the integrity of the local environment.
Yes, UCSB students contribute to the local economy, but we can do that and party without dumping beer cans and inflatable tubes all over the beach. Organizations are going to try to work on some solutions to the problem, but we can’t do it if 90 percent of the people partying won’t lift a finger to work with us.