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Preserving the place that preserves you.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
April 25, 2008


Participating in the San Diego County Board of Supervisor's 6th annual Creek to Bay Cleanup at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas along with other Encinitas environmentalists, I found myself on a beautiful spring morning combing Styrofoam litter from Cottonwood Creek as it approached the Pacific Ocean at Moonlight Beach. I also found lumber, a traffic pylon, shoes, socks, straws, candy wrappers, use balloons with tangled ribbons, a Guinness bottle, a Pepsi Can, and a bottle of Visine.

According to representatives of the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation approximately 100 people contributed to the Moonlight cleaning effort. Rewarding on numerous levels, my time in service to the greater good was well worth the gnarly sunburn I subjected myself to having forgotten to apply sunscreen.

This year I am happy to report the number of cigarette butts I pulled from the beach is down significantly from last year, suggesting the recent smoking ban at Encinitas beaches is already showing results.

Another way the City of Encinitas can improve the quality of life of all Encinitas residents is to ban the use of plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam "To Go" containers. Combating litter begins with reducing the amount of waste being generated. If the Encinitas City Council can ban the sell of novelty cigarette lighters within the city in the name of child safety, as they recently did, they can also ban the use of ecologically malignant products and packing.

I bring up the topic of plastic bags because during the clean-up a member of the Encinitas Parks and Recreation Commission suggested the plastic bag and Styrofoam ban were logical ways of further reducing beach micro trash.

As environmental consciousness continues to develop within coastal communities attitudes and appetites will have to change to keep up with emerging science and evolving ethical considerations. Instead of looking at environmental stewardship as a chore or imposition it should be seen as a challenge to meet and master.

Preserving the ecological balance of the habitats that the southern California lifestyle requires residents to preserve the biology that shapes and supports life on the edge of a crowded coast. Preservation is only possible when people prioritize well being over want and waste.

Small sacrifices of service results in big improvements in quality of life and long-term sustainability. Environmental preservation makes economic sense when coupled with conservation efforts and real world restoration work.

Preventing pollution makes cleaning it up unnecessary, which in turn would save time and money, leaving more of both with which to enjoy the natural beauty of the place we call home. Cleaning beaches is just the beginning, cleaning the air and water is a challenge that will be with us forever.

Environmental activism comes in many forms and varying degrees. From coastal cleanups, reducing carbon footprints, or cleaning up government waste and regulations, aggressive ecological stewardship can no longer be seen as something to be handled later. Because now is later, and quality of life is easily squandered when profit becomes more important than place.

The California dream is now clean and green.

Good for us.

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