I spent yesterday morning with my work's environmental group helping to clean the LA River. It was an incredibly fulfilling, spiritual, and sickening experience.

You probably know the LA River best as a concrete side freeway that people like the Terminator use. Much less known is that it once was a vital, thriving river that housed many fish and animals and made the land around it fertile and beautiful. It is currently home to many species of fish and beautiful birds like blue heron, who make their home in the swampy marshes that manage to survive in some spots.

This was the general area, where the 5 and the 2 freeways meet. When we were there it was mostly dry, so I actually never saw the part that had water. We were assigned a section that sort of looked like this but with about three times more plastic bags adorning every limb of every tree.

I'd say about 80% of the trash that was found was plastic shopping bags. They curled, knotted, and ensnared themselves into every living and non-living thing in the riverbed. It was incredibly distressing. Also found were mattresses, shopping carts, grills, and a wide array of random items. I actually picked up a lot of Halloween candy wrappers. Everything that was made of plastic was, of course, not biodegraded in any way.


We worked with several hundred schoolkids from the surrounding area and only made a small dent after three hours in our section. I actually spent my entire time working on three trees. Every time I thought I had gotten it all, I looked closer and saw more and more.

All of this water drains to the ocean. The ocean is currently plagued with millions and millions of pounds of plastic that is killing marine and bird life from here all the way to China. It makes the stomach churn.

There is a proposal with a lot of momentum going to restore the LA River to its natural state. The ultimate goal is for it to become a swimmable, drinkable river again. There are grand designs for parks that would line the river all the way through the city to its final destination in Long Beach. Part of the reason this movement doesn't get a lot of attention is because the river runs through some of the poorest parts of the city, including Compton, where some of its most beautiful parts survive:

Something in humankind's consciousness had better shift, and quickly.

1 Comments:

How great for you to do something like that. Can you imagine the impact if people spent three hours cleaning up pollution, even once in their lives, or reduced their waste by using reusable grocery bags instead of plastic grocery bags for a start? That would be incredible if the LA River was restored to its natural state, what a shame it's being ignored because of the neighborhoods through which it runs.
Lisa | 05.07.06 - 12:14 pm | #

Your last statement really nails it. Cleaning up after ourselves should be a part of citizenship, I think. Of course, if I was in charge, people would also have to pass an IQ test and mental assesment in order to be granted a breeding license...
tifanie | 05.09.06 - 7:47 am | #

By Blogger adriana, at Saturday, October 06, 2007 10:22:00 PM  

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