Thursday, September 21

CALPIRG’s Wave of Change takes UCLA students on clean-up tour of the coastline for spring break

CALPIRG members will tour California beaches, and end trip by lobbying in Sacramento

CALPIRG hosted an alternative spring break in 2008. Students lobbied for Prop. 1A to create a high speed rail in  California.

CALPIRG hosted an alternative spring break in 2008. Students lobbied for Prop. 1A to create a high speed rail in California. Parisa Mahdad / Daily Bruin

As part of CALPIRG’s Wave of Change Spring Break Tour, UCLA students will take a road trip along the coast to take a stand against the Styrofoam and plastic bag waste found off of California beaches.

The road trip will start on March 21 in San Diego and will continue onto coastal cities such as Newport Beach, Cabrillo, Santa Cruz and Berkeley, until they reach Sacramento on March 25.

Each day, the UCLA students registered to go will participate in beach clean-ups with 50 students representing 11 other California universities. Once at Sacramento, students will lobby on Capitol Hill for the Assembly Bill 1998, which bans the use of plastic bags in California.

“You can’t think of California without thinking of the beach. The ocean is so important to California’s fishing industry, its beauty and its ecology,” said Coreen Weintraub, a fourth-year anthropology student and the chair of CALPIRG’s UCLA chapter.

About 1000 miles off the California coast swirls the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a two-continent-sized swirling gyre that consists of six to 10 times as much plastic than plankton, Weintraub said. Such debris has claimed the lives of more than one million seabirds and 100,000 sea turtles.

Californians consume 19 million plastic bags in a year and less than one percent of Styrofoam is ever recycled, Weintraub said. If legislators pass the bill, California would be the first state to ban both materials, Weintraub added.

As of now, five UCLA students are registered to participate, although CALPIRG’s goal is to register 10 UCLA students for the trip. Students will be camping and staying with other local students throughout the trip. CALPIRG is in the process of finding food donations and fundraising in order to minimize the cost of the trip to no more than $100 per student.

Edith Lopez, a fourth-year geology student, is excited to participate in the trip and to educate others about the movement.

“Taking a stance on Styrofoam is really crucial,” Lopez said. “(The trip) is more to get attention to the idea that us as college students care for the environment. Banning plastic bags is not a big sacrifice, but it’s very helpful.”

Although many students may not be able to participate in such alternative spring breaks, students remain aware of their local environments.

Sarah Saad, a fourth-year history student, is a San Diego native who frequents the beach when she can. Saad is not a member of CALPIRG but appreciates their endeavors this spring break.

“I do notice a lot of trash and pollution in the water (and) it’s not as sanitary to enter the water. I do support these students that are coming to take a stand on cleaning our oceans because the beaches are a big part of the city,” Saad said.

To join CALPIRG’s Wave of Change Spring Break Tour, UCLA students can register at Registration is free.

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