SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- The third full week of September is known as Santa Barbara's Creek Week. The week-long event is held to bring attention to keeping creeks, rivers, streams and other waterways as clean as possible.
Organizers have planned extra cleanups and virtual learning events to help clean Santa Barbara County waterways. Organizations across the South Coast have teamed up for the 21st annual event.
The goal of Creek Week is to make more people aware of how trash in our community can flow through waterways and into the ocean.
Jill Cloutier is the public relations director for Explore Ecology. She said, "Litter that is on the ground here will eventually make its way through rain or wind into storm drains, into creeks and into oceans. So by picking up litter in your neighborhood, you're actually helping the ocean."
Liz Smith works in the City of Santa Barbara Creeks Division. She added, “We want to keep our ocean healthy to keep our water quality healthy. Also to protect wildlife. And also for people to recreate at the beach. We don’t want too much bacteria and nasty stuff getting into the water and we also want it to look nice.”
Elena and Ed Betts agree. They soaked up some final hours of summer sun Monday, visiting East Beach from San Ramon. They said it's sad when they see trash at the beach and think Creek Week is a great idea.
"I think it's wonderful, you know," said Ed Betts. "It's really a great idea. Yeah, because these upflows are going to come down, and if there's trash in those, it's going to come right down into the Pacific."
In two weeks, Cloutier said 238 volunteers picked up 860 pounds of trash. And Creek Week clean up volunteers are noticing a trend.
"Found a lot of personal protective gear, right," said Cloutier. "We found masks. We have found gloves. We have found hand sanitizer containers."
"We tend to find a lot of cigarette butts, a lot of small plastic items like bottle caps," said Smith. "And those are the tougher things for us to pick up, which is great to have volunteers out."
Organizers are also hosting a Storm Drain Chalk Art Contest. They said the cleaner we keep our streets and creeks, the cleaner our beaches and oceans will be.
To learn more about how to get involved with Santa Barbara Creek Week, visit their website.