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James 1 Rachel James Instructor Ludlow-Mattson ENG 114 November 22, 2013 What is Coastkeepers?

In my junior year of high school I volunteered at San Diego Coastkeepers, an environmental group that specialized in creating laws to protect against water pollution. Every time someone would ask me what Coastkeepers was I would just say that and nothing more. I could talk about beach cleanups and some other activities that the group promoted but other than those meek details I knew nothing about the group that I had invested time in. I was even supporting and telling people to come out and join San Diego Coastkeepers, and yet, I had no idea what I was actually encouraging. I have no doubts that this organization is effective, but this research essay will finally give me clarity on what San Diego Coastkeepers is actually about. To explain Coastkeepers, I am going to explain my own specific start with the group. I walked up the stairs of the nearly empty building and looked anxiously around for a sign or indicator to point me in the right direction. My footsteps echoed off the concrete walls as I stepped onto the second floor. There I finally found the San Diego Coastkeepers office, adorned with dull gray cubicles and old blue carpet. It was not exactly what I expected. My stereotypical mind automatically imagined obnoxiously green decorations and corny posters with environmentally friendly quotes to show their Go-Green sustainability. However, it was not like that at all. I was suddenly greeted by a man in his mid to late 20s. It was nice to put a face to the voice I had been talking to about working with Coastkeepers. We quickly walked into the office and sat down at large business room table. From that point, we started talking about the

James 2 organization and I slowly drifted farther into my own world. I love working with the organization, but ultimately I was there to fulfill my community service for school and as he continued on explaining the basics of environmental issues and what the group does, my mind found other things to think about. What I Know First, to fully understand what San Diego Coastkeeper works for I have to understand what water pollution is and what it does to our environment. As much as I wish I could turn back time and remember exactly what the Coastkeeper worker had said at that meeting, I cannot and I have to start from scratch. So what do I already know about water pollution? Well, human interference is the biggest of problem in water pollution. While there are many natural influences on the environment simply from nature, such as volcanos, urban runoff and its consequences cause detrimental problems in the ocean. Urban runoff is any chemical substance that is transported to the ocean from humans. Substances like grease or cooking ingredients, nuclear waste, dish or car washing water, plastic, bathroom materials and many other components are disposed of improperly and poison oceans with toxic chemicals and can kill fish and bleach coral reefs. One of the activities that directly addresses human interference is pollution patrol. This activity involves evaluating areas around San Diego. Essentially, the volunteers go to parks, restaurants and other facilities to monitor if they are keeping up with safety and environmental law. My first time on pollution patrol was interesting but still did not give an abundance of information. We meet very early in the morning at the Coastkeepers office, were handed clipboards and paired up with one other volunteer. I was partnered with the volunteer of the

James 3 month so I knew I was in good hands. The first park we went to seemed lovely at first. We heard a soccer game in the distance, other kids playing and saw families everywhere. However, as we looked around the park we saw shattered class, bottle thrown everywhere and other trash scattered along the paths. These were not the worst of it all. We walked towards the soccer field and saw a giant pipe had burst and water was flooding the area. The puddle and mud turned into a sort of sink hole. This is the first time I saw how Coastkeepers really helps out. My partner immediately whipped out her phone and called our supervisor who assured us that someone would be out there soon to fix it. It seemed so simple! In just one phone call that any person could have done the problem would have been completely eradicated and yet the only people that seemed to care were the volunteers for Coastkeeper. Along pollution patrol, Coastkeepers also organizes beach cleanups and water quality monitoring. Water quality monitoring is a service that takes samples of water from all over San Diego and analyzes it to detect the amount toxic chemicals in the water. What Do I Want To Know As stated before, San Diego Coastkeepers played a large part in my life in the last few years and yet I did not know much about it. Given this opportunity to research the topic, I have discovered many questions I have about the organization. I want to know exactly what the group does and how they incorporate what they do into law formation. This really would solidify that the company does not just do beach cleanups and actually pushes for changes in the community. I would also like to know how successful they are. Knowing how many laws or policies have been passed because of the organization would ensure that they are doing more than just pollution cleanup. Pollution prevention should be the goal of any environmental group and

James 4 seeing how they incorporate their activities into law would ensure that they are working towards a bigger goal. Research So how do I go about discovering what Coastkeepers really works for? Coastkeepers has an official website with a specific tab that says learn. In that category, everything I could possibly ask was there. They even had a belief on fireworks! The diverse range of topics they had beliefs on was outstanding and showed that the company strives to incorporate environmental justice to almost every situation. Additionally, Coastkeepers stays up to date on information to reiterate that they are constantly working. San Diego Coastkeeper receives daily water quality information from County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health and uploads it into Swim Guide. (Learn, San Diego Beach Status) Upon entering another link on their site, it shows the graphs of the weight of trash from each beach and what types of trash were the most common. I remembered that I had that job when I helped with a few beach clean ups. The volunteers would bring their trash back to the tent with clipboards that they filled out showing what type of trash they had picked up (Bottles, cigarettes, paper, etc). I would then weigh it. I never really thought about why they did that, I figured it would be organized into charts but I thought it was to measure their own personal progress when they came back to that beach at another time. I found out that they actually use that data to prove their points and show people why passing laws is important for our community. One of my main questions for the organization was about pollution prevention. I wondered if they ever thought of educating kids when they are young so it becomes a norm to be environmentally cautious. San Diego Coastkeepers in fact does just that. Project SWELL

James 5 (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership) is a teaching curriculum for young students to learn about water safety and what they can do to help out world get a little cleaner.
This program lives at the heart of San Diego Coastkeepers environmental education game plan

because Project SWELL teaches students about issues in their local ecosystems and engages them in improving the health of our ocean and waterways. (Learn, Project SWELL) After my research I have discovered how these seemingly small activities make a large impact on how Coastkeepers changes the environment. At beach cleanups, we would weigh the amount of trash and catalog what type of trash it was. This data is compiled into charts to show the amount of trash collected at each beach and what kind of trash is the present. Bottles and cigarettes are usually the most prevalent. These charts and findings are then shown to the lawyers that work in the company who then present it to law and policy makers who can push for a change in rules at the beach. Similarly, water quality monitoring analyzes samples of water and organizes the toxic chemicals into charts to present to environmental lawyers. Pollution patrol is geared more to direct help. We collect data and problems in an area, like trash and broken pipes, and figure out a way to fix them as soon as possible. Additionally, I believe that Project SWELL is the best route to take for pollution prevention. However, it seems that more focus is placed on other activities like beach clean ups and pollution patrol. Unanswered Questions At the end of this essay I can honestly say that I feel more informed about the organization than I did before. I have However, even with my research, I cannot help but wonder how much other people know about environmental issues? Why isnt it taught more in school at a young age? As stated before, Project SWELL is a part of the Coastkeepers activities but that

James 6 only focuses on kids. What about their parents who make most of the decision in the house? At the end of the day, many of the activities of Coastkeepers are more about clean up rather than prevention. In summary my main question that is lingering, is that if San Diego Coastkeepers is so keen on keeping the environment clean, why dont they try to do more educational programs for adults to instill prevention rather than cleanup? Maybe encouraging it into a work environment is the best way to promote prevention rather than clean up. For environmental justice to occur, we need to abolish the standard to pollute and make pollution prevention a norm.

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