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Everyday Heroes: Sara Bayles, the beach cleaner-upper

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 Everyday Heroes: Sara Bayles, the beach cleaner upper

For many, beach cleanups are a once-a-year event on Coastal Cleanup Day. For Sara Bayles, who writes The Daily Ocean blog, beach cleanups are a near-daily affair. Read this five-question interview to find out how and why this oceans activist has collected hundreds of pounds of garbage off the iconic beach — and what you can do to help.

What do you do?

Sara: Tonight will be day 161 of my goal of 365 non-consecutive days of cleaning up trash from my local beach that is directly at the end of my street. I take 20 minutes and go to the same place every time — and see how much trash I can find and weigh it. Right now, I have over 640 pounds of trash collected.

But the thing that is interesting is that a lot of the items I collect are made of plastic, and plastic is very light. So 640 pounds already sounds like a lot — but it’s actually quite a lot.

Why do you do it?

I used to have a job on Saturdays that wouldn’t allow me to go to organized beach cleanups like from Heal the Bay or Surfrider. And then when I moved to Santa Monica a year and a half ago, I just wanted to go to the beach to enjoy it, and I noticed there was a lot of trash, and I brought a bag with me to collect it — because I just figured you know, you don’t need an organized cleanup to do anything, although they’re great for building community.

I was startled to see how much trash I found, and then just over the next couple times I went, I decided to figure out how to create a blog and set some parameters and rules, and that’s how The Daily Ocean got started.

When did you start?

I started in April 2009. We moved in in February and sometime in late March I went to the beach that first time. By April I’d had a few conversations with my husband Garin [a marine biologist]. We bounced ideas around — and I decided to start taking pictures and organizing it in a particular way.

Who inspires you?

Anna Cummins and her husband Marcus Erikson [of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, a nonprofit that educates people about marine plastic pollution] are two people I look up to and am really inspired by. They don’t give up. They seem to have boundless energy. They’re really humble about what they do and they accomplish an incredible amount and they’ve inspired a lot of people. I mean, they rode bikes from the border of the U.S. all the way to Mexico giving talks the entire way. The crossed the Junk Raft over the gyre. I think they’re great examples of — If you put your mind to it, really, you can get any idea going.

Wallace J. Nichols — He was in the Oceana Ocean Heroes contest this past year — and he’s got like the most incredible career of being a marine biologist and helping sea turtles. But he’s so accessible. You essentially find him on Twitter, send him a message, and he’ll email you back the same day.

How can people help?

Contact me and come with me to the beach! It’s very informal — You just spend 20 minutes walking along, collecting trash with me. We’ll weigh it, we’ll add it to the community count. So far The Daily Ocean’s collected over 1000 pounds that way, if I add my tally with the community count.

If you go on vacation to a coastal area, do a Daily Ocean cleanup and send me pictures with approximately it weighed and I’ll add it that way too. And tell your friends!

I first interviewed Sara back in August last year for my personal blog. Since then, we’ve become friends, organizing a Blogger Beach Cleanup for’s International Day of Climate Action last October. Yesterday, we reunited back at the beach for’s 10/10/10 Global Work Party — and again collected trash for 20 minutes. With the help of a few other volunteers, we ended up collecting 14 pounds and 10 ounces of trash!

Sara always cleans up the same spot of Santa Monica beach, between Life Guard Station 26 and 27 in Santa Monica. Join her one evening by contacting Sara through her blog The Daily Ocean, Facebook, or Twitter.

 Everyday Heroes: Sara Bayles, the beach cleaner upper

Know an Everyday Hero you’d like to nominate for this weekly series? Email your suggestion to Siel at

Photos by Siel Ju


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Morning greens: From cycling over freeways to recycling denim

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Missed CicLAvia yesterday? LA Times estimates 100,000 people turned out for the inaugural Ciclavia.You missed out! KPCC’s Corey Moore covered the event, when “officials shut off streets and allowed people to bike, jog, stroll and skateboard… with no traffic to worry about.”

Yesterday also marked 10/10/10, a “Global Work Party” with more 7347 loosely organized events around the globe thrown by environmentalists who want to see national and international decisionmakers address climate change. Grist has a photo slideshow of 10/10/10 events around the world. For more, visit

Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro are the major financial backers of Prop 23, but if you’re wondering who all the other donors are, KQED’s mapped the money trail for both sides of Prop 23.

Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa is set to meet with President Obama today, according to LA Daily News. The two are expected to talk about the 30/10 plan, a project to complete a dozen public transit projects in 10 years instead of 30 as currently planned.


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Quick programming note: Clean water at the 'bu

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Just a quick note that some well-informed local realtors asked for a quick update on Malibu's water quality issues. You can read my brief history of those issues at their site on this link.

Since I wrote that for them, however, something pretty cool happened at Malibu's Surfrider Beach - Siel mentioned it in her Morning Greens.

Surfers, scientists and others got together and made Surfrider Beach a World Surfing Reserve. Dean LaTourette - from Save the Waves, an advocacy group for surfing and environmental awareness - said spots like these are "Yosemites of the Coast." The language echoes that used by environmentalists talking about the Marine Life Protection Act and that whole process going on in California.

I found a freelance travel photographer's website: Jobi Manson was at the dedication this weekend, and here's the eyewitness report:


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What's all this 10/10/10 stuff anyway?

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Climate activists love their numbers. They catch the media's attention. But for the uninitiated, they may not have much of a meaning. Here's a primer.

The group - co-founded by the author Bill McKibben - advocates for the idea that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide is the safe limit for humanity to continue to thrive. That target's been considered somewhat radical - as recently as 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report that helped set the more conventional-widsom-based idea of 450 parts per million. (We're around 391 ppm right now, based on annually-gathered data.) has organized global events the last two years with the idea of raising awareness and political involvement worldwide in advance of global talks about climate policy - United Nations sponsored events, previously in Poznan and Copenhagen, or this winter's upcoming UN talks in Mexico City.


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Morning greens: Surfrider named World Surfing Reserve

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It’s CicLAvia and 10/10/10 today! I’ll be at the Rally to Kick Coal out of L.A. at City Hall at 12:30 — then on Santa Monica beach to clean up with The Daily Ocean at 5:45 pm. Hope to see you there.

Malibu’s Surfrider Beach is officially the first-ever World Surfing Reserve, reports LA Times. “The designation is largely ceremonial and does not grant greater protection for the surf. But surfers and conservationists hope that enshrining the world’s best breaks … will one day lead to legally binding protections against development and pollution.”

Spotted a ladybug or lizard? Snap a pic, quick — for science! Anyone can be a citizen ecologist-scientist with Project NOAH: “This new mobile ecology platform is turning images of sporadic animal and plant sightings in the confines of homes, backyards, and neighborhood parks into scientific contributions on a mass scale,” writes Jill Priluck in Slate.


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