storm drain ocean pollution

First Flush

After learning about Soraya Simi and her work, I checked out her short film First Flush. In just one minute we follow the journey of raindrops hitting the Los Angeles pavement, to the accumulating floodwaters traveling across roadways and down drains, all leading down to the LA River. The drainage carries with it more than just rain: various plastic trash on the streets are carried and gather around the storm drains. The journey ends exactly how we’d expect: at the ocean.

Soraya’s final message to her audience: “If you’ve ever wondered where it all goes…”

I used to live in New York City, arguably the dirtiest city in the United States, with three airports, over a million cars, and small mountains of trash lining the streets on pickup day. New York gets well over 100 days of precipitation per year. Each and every storm is carrying out the same process in Soraya’s video: transporting unthinkable amounts of trash and toxic solvents into our oceans and wild habitats.

Today I live in Santa Barbara, California, where we get much less rain and the streets are much cleaner. Consequently, so are the beaches. It is an important reminder that while we all contribute to the pollution in our oceans, some of us are seeing it in plain sight, and some of us are not.

Sailors and other boaters are on the front lines witnessing the reality of our flawed waste system every day. They are seeing ocean dead zones, gyres of floating trash, and entangled or distressed animals. Let’s follow Soraya’s example and share this information with others. Take photos and videos and share on social media. Learn more about where your local storm drains lead to and how we can encourage others to protect our waterways. Simply talking about these issues with your loved ones and colleagues is so important to creating the awareness that will save the ocean.

This summer, we’re asking you, our fellow sailors and ocean lovers, to take action by showing us your plastic pollution cleanups. You may have heard of the viral trend of “trashtagging” where people are sharing before-and-after photos of beaches and parks transformed by a cleanup. Whether you bring a bag on your beach walk and collect some shoreline trash or haul a wad of tangled fishing line onboard during a sail, we want to hear about it! Take photos and videos of your cleanups and use the hashtag #ASATrashTag so we can encourage others to improve our coasts and communities together. We will repost your images and enter you in a weekly drawing to win some ASA gear!

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