ISLA VISTA, Calif. – A massive cleanup is underway led by the Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) following the graduation weekend at nearby UC Santa Barbara.
Thousands of residents, mainly students, are loading up their cars and rented trucks with their belongings and leaving the area, some for the summer and some forever.
Many items will also be left behind, on the street or in dumpsters. It is often a messy sight.
This year the IVCSD with its Isla Vista Beautiful team is partnering with Earthcomb on liter removal.
Earthcomb has been working on litter and trash pickups around waterways, mainly from homeless camps.
The founder of Earthcomb, Andrew Velikanje, was formerly homeless, and developed this business to address the cleanup needs that were not met.
He hires and pays homeless people as his crew. In the last three years, 100 tons of litter have been removed in Santa Barbara County by Earthcomb, mainly at encampments near creeks.
The Isla Vista Community Services District Program Manager for Isla Vista Beautiful, Jenna Norton said, "the amount of litter is just incredible. I mean not only is it disruptive but it can dangerous."
She said the workers, moving down the street in a team of five, were very thorough.
Norton said, "I've never seen somebody go out there like they have with absolutely no hesitation and they are able to take care of any piece of trash that they see."
It's a one month contract with Earthcomb and there's no shortage of work.
Velikanje said, "June 8th to July 8th. We have now picked up almost seven tons of litter."
The work was impressive and appreciated.
A UCSB student Kelsey Thompson said, "and just how much trash is going out here, and being so close to the beach it is massively concerning we don't want it to go to the gutters and straight to the ocean."
While most of this is trash and unusable within it there maybe something that can be resold at what's called the Give sale at Embarcadero Hall.
Norton said, "and they are taking some items that they find to the GIVE sale so that it can be sold on Saturday and Sunday as well."
Funds raised will go back to Isla Vista non-profits.
Earthcomb is also helping by bringing the usable items to the donation and sale site.
Velikanje said, "toasters. Toaster ovens, if they look clean, dishes, pots and pans, things we can toss in and carry along with us. "
Not all the streets are full of leftover items, but many are.
"Del Playa and Sabado Tarde are probably the really gnarly ones. You don't seen nearly as much as you get into the residential houses. People seem to tend to take a little more care," said Velikanje.
Thompson said some of the mess happens when scavengers come through. "As much as we put it here we come out the next morning it's all out and been like rummaged through."
In the end this work is making a difference.
Norton says "by changing the culture you can change how move out looks from year to year. Hopefully next year will be even better."
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