Students clean creek for California Coastal Cleanup Day


Kinnera Mulam

Green Team Public Relations Head Joelle Wang (11) and member Lindsey Tuckey (10) place trash in a bag as possible at a Campbell creek for Coastal Cleanup Day. A total of 18 students participated in the event as part of California’s Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 17.

by Kinnera Mulam, Co-STEM Editor

18 students, including Green Team members, and three teachers attended the California Coastal Cleanup Day event on Sept. 17 in Campbell to clean up trash near a creek in an effort to decrease water contamination. 

Coastal Cleanup Day, which happens on the third Saturday of September, has taken place for 38 years. South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition (SBCCC), who organized the creek cleanup, hosted multiple other cleanups on Saturday as well. SBCCC also collaborates with organizations such as Google to help improve sustainability. Members of the coalition met the Harker attendees at 10 a.m. at the Blackford Elementary School parking lot. 

“It’s really nice to see such a grassroots effort with the South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition and see that there are citizen efforts going on,” Green Team Vice President Siddhi Jain (11) said.

During Green Team’s first meeting on Sept. 19, SBCCC Director Steve Holmes presented on wildlife such as beavers and salmon at the creek as well as various creek projects the coalition is working on such as creating murals.

At the cleanup event, SBCCC provided materials such as trash grabbers, bags, vests and gloves for participants and led the team along the Los Gatos Creek Trail for around two miles. Stopping at heavily-littered spots along the trail and areas closer to the creek, the attendees collected half a ton of trash primarily consisting of bottle caps, cigarettes and plastic wrappers. According to the California Coastal Commission, creek cleaners collected over seven and a half million cigarettes just on the annual cleanup days from 1988 to 2017.

“I expected to pick up trash but I was still surprised that there was so much trash because in California, or at least where we live, there isn’t that much of a littering issue,” Siddhi said. “It really opened my eyes to the intersectionality of littering and climate issues and also homelessness and climate justice problems.”

After the cleanup ended at 12 p.m., students headed to Campbell Park. With glass jars and metal straws provided by Green Team Adviser Diana Moss, students ordered boba from Breaktime Tea. Last year, Moss convinced Breaktime Tea to allow glass jar use when customers order their drinks. Green Team also ordered boba from the shop for Green Team’s Buy Better Boba sale, a project they began last year and plan to continue at Harker Day on Oct. 8.