Women’s Club raising awareness of plastic pollution one person at a time

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Maria Buhbe at Hirsch home on the hill- 1 days beach trash display. Courtesy photo

Our beach and the challenges we face as a community in keeping it clean have become personal for 40+ year Seal Beach resident Maria Buhbe.  On a not so long ago summer day, Maria went out for a swim with her husband at the 13th Street input south of the Pier.  It was a normal, beautiful Seal Beach summer morning and they had a great swim and caught a few waves body surfing.  But it was while they were sitting on the sand to dry off that things changed for Maria.

As they sat and watched local surfers do their thing, they suddenly noticed a very large ribbon of trash curving around the pier and floating towards them.  The surfers and a long-distance swimmer had to scramble to keep from getting tangled in the floating mess.  Maria jumped back in the water and working with the others, dragged all the trash to shore and up to trash cans.  Maria knew then she did not want to see this type of mess in the water ever again.

Unfortunately, despite the amazing efforts of local organizations such as Save Our Beach who clean regularly and provide trash pickup materials for people, we know all too well that we are subject to an ongoing daily deluge of trash coming down the San Gabriel River Channel from 32 miles upstream.  We have all seen the images of our beach after a first big rain, when last year, it took bulldozers and dump trucks several days to get the beach scrapped clean.

As a result, Maria, and the leadership of The Women’s Club of Seal Beach want to do more to help raise awareness in our community on the effects this pollution has not only on our beach but the long term effects to our waters and to our ocean overall.  This effort led by President Ann Harmon and member Elaine Layne, have planned an event for Saturday, Nov. 16, which will be led by Algalita, a local educational non-profit whose mission is not to pick trash out of the sea but to fundamentally shift our way of thinking on land. The presentation and discussion will focus on educating us on the dilemma of plastics, their long-range impacts on land, sea and our food chain, as well as information on alternative ways to address the burgeoning trash flow in the river.  Local youth activist Pia Hirsch will also speak at this event. Pia has been an advocate for elimination of the use of disposable plastics by our local merchants for several years and has spoken regularly at City Council on these issues.

As Maria discovered for herself, awareness and change begin with one person at a time.  The Women’s Club invites the public to come and spend this little bit of time to learn more about what each of us can do to make a change.

Please join them on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2 p.m., for this event at the Mary Wilson Library Senior Center, 700 Electric Ave.   Refreshments will be served and they encourage all ages to attend.  For more information contact Elaine Layne at 562-471-1056