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Trash Became Treasure When Volunteers Cleaned Up the Island

Last Saturday was the 38th annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, and Treasure Island was besieged with volunteers armed and ready to collect trash and random items from the beach and surrounds. Twenty-six volunteers, including island residents and crew from the Cal Sailing Team, collected 40 bags of trash along Clipper Cove’s waterfront. We asked Natalie Corkhill, San Francisco Sailing Science Center‘s community engagement coordinator, about the day, and about what stood out for her about the debris they found on the island.

“The Cal Sailing Team and island residents marked the day with energy and excitement. It was a super showing for this year’s California Coastal Cleanup Day,” Natalie wrote.

“One Treasure Island provided PPE and lunch. Doug Paine from Treasure Island Sailing Center (TISC) was the Cleanup Day site captain. He ferried a small group of volunteers on TISC’s Whaler to and from the beach.”

Volunteers Cleaning up on Treasure Island
Volunteers made the most of their time on the island to pick up bagloads of trash.
© 2022 San Francisco Sailing Science Center

Is there anything that stood out for you in regards to the amount or kind of trash that was collected?

NC: It was too easy to pick up trash on TI. Mostly plastic and tall cans.

Was there more, or less, trash than previously?

NC: We collected less than last year.

What was the most common item collected?

NC: There were a lot of degraded plastic bags or tarps. The plastic was falling apart into pieces from weathering.

The sooner we pick it up, the less it will degrade and stay in the ocean.
© 2022 Sf Sailing Science Center

What was the most unusual item collected?

NC: Jim’s water bottle or the $5 and $1 bills! — We called Sailing Science Center president Jim Hancock to ask about how his water bottle came to be found among the trash. Jim had been walking along the shore carrying too many bags and items for his two hands, so he placed his water bottle on a piling so he could come back to get it. In the meantime, an enthusiastic trash collector had come along and picked it up as just another piece of trash. Fortunately the water bottle was located and returned to Jim. But what about the $5 and $1 bills?

“Last year we did better,” Jim said. “Last year one of the volunteers found a $10 bill.”

Apart from its being good fortune for Jim that someone found his water bottle, perhaps Treasure Island really is full of treasure!

volunteers pose for photo
Thumbs up and smiles mark the success of last Saturday’s Coastal Cleanup on Treasure Island.
© 2022 SF Sailing Science Center

Any comments on the general state of the local environment and its future?

NC: Due to the winds the island experiences, trash can easily blow off the island into the water. Hopefully, with the increased population on Treasure Island, more will be aware of the environmental impact they have on it and keep it clean.

Thanks to San Francisco Sailing Science Center, Treasure Island Sailing Center, One Treasure Island and the Treasure Island Development Authority for organizing the day and cleaning up the island’s foreshore.

Although the next Coastal Cleanup Day won’t occur for another year, we hope we can all continue the good work done by the Treasure Island crew, and volunteers throughout California, and keep our beaches, waterways, forests and neighborhoods clear of trash.


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