Volunteers raise awareness about aquatic pollution through BayFront CleanUp


Eddy Yeretnov

This is the main volunteer headquarters for the San Mateo annual coastal cleanup.

Eddy Yeretnov, Staff Writer

Volunteers around the Bay Area flocked to San Mateo’s 35th Annual BayFront CleanUp, eager to help clean their community.

On Sept. 21, Ryder Park, San Mateo attracted a crowd of devoted volunteers. The group quickly set to work picking up trash along the Bay Trail.

“I came to the cleanup because I want to do good, to feel good, and just to help out,” said Lance Hall, a volunteer.

For many of the volunteers, it’s their first year participating in the cleanup. Others are veterans, who return year after year to continue giving back to the community. Last year, volunteers collected a total of 24 cubic yards of trash.

“I’ve been out coming out to the cleanup day for about five or six years,” volunteer Adam Lorraine said.

The BayFront CleanUp focuses on motivating the community to help tidy up the San Mateo Bayfront. Other cities in the Bay Area have similar events, creating a trend in the bay.

“The cleanup is happening not just here, but everywhere around the Bay Area,” said Sven Edlund, who works with the San Mateo County Department of Public Works. “All the cities have their Coastal CleanUp Days today, so it’s a group effort.”

However, the cleanup effort is not Bay Area-exclusive. It’s a part of the international Coastal CleanUp Day, which was created by the Ocean Conservancy to spread awareness about aquatic pollution.

“The ultimate aim of this event is to raise everybody’s awareness about where their trash ends up,” Edlund said. “If you see a bag blowing across the street, it goes into a storm drain and comes down into the bay and hopefully get picked up by us. But most of the time, it’s out there floating around in the water.”

Although the 2019 BayFront CleanUp has concluded, the event will resume once again next year. Lorraine is eager to return in 2020, reflecting on how volunteering has affected him.

“Although I’m out on the levee Bayfront a lot, the cleanup is an excuse to go a little more deeply into some areas and remind myself of how much natural beauty we have right in our backyards,” Lorraine said.