Gov. Jerry Brown announced Saturday that he'd signed a bill to add a checkbox on California state income returns to give charitable contributions to coastal conservation efforts.
“The beauty and allure of California’s coast is unrivaled and this bill gives taxpayers a simple way to help keep it that way,” Brown said in a press release.
The announcement coincided with California Coastal Cleanup Day, an annual volunteer event to clean up creeks, beaches and highways.
“It’s important because we’re trying to keep the habitats clean, keep these spaces clean for animals and other people to use … we’re keeping trash out of the ocean,” said Edward Murphy, a secondary education manager with environmental group Heal the Bay.
Eighty percent of the litter that enters the ocean each year comes from land, according to Heal the Bay. Murphy said cities that have banned free plastic bags at grocery stores have helped reduce the litter in some areas.
Jonathan Arevalo searched Compton Creek for trash to collect. His bag was already full of soda cans and candy wrappers.
“It benefits the community. It really does,” said Arevalo, a senior at Compton High School. “You know you walk by and you see all this trash and you’re like, ‘Wow.’ Nobody picks it up. But people don’t realize you can actually pick it up yourself.”
In 2012, more than 65,000 volunteers cleaned up and removed nearly 770,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from beaches, lakes and waterways, according to a release from the governor's office.
Since it began, the event's volunteers have cleaned up more than 145 million pounds of trash and debris, according to Heal the Bay. They said more than 11,000 people participated in this year's event, removing more than 24,000 pounds of trash.
The Southland area's cleanup events include scuba divers looking for debris under the water, as well as kayakers, paddleboard races and a diversity celebration. Among the unusual items found in this year's cleanup was a 35-pound car battery and 120 pounds of carpeting.
California Coastal Cleanup Day also includes cleaning up urban areas now in order to prevent trash from making it into state waterways. It was recognized as "largest garbage collection" by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1993.
This story has been updated.