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Annual beach cleanup leads the way to America Recycles Day

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A group of volunteer Vandenberg Airmen hike Surf Beach as they sweep for trash during Beach Cleanup Day here Wednesday, Nov. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A group of volunteer Vandenberg Airmen hike Surf Beach as they sweep for trash during Beach Cleanup Day here Wednesday, Nov. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff Sgt. Lara Nottingham, 9th Space Operations Squadron member and volunteer, loads a bag of collected trash onto a pickup vehicle during Beach Cleanup Day here Wednesday, Nov. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson).

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff Sgt. Lara Nottingham, 9th Space Operations Squadron member and volunteer, loads a bag of collected trash onto a pickup vehicle during Beach Cleanup Day here Wednesday, Nov. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson).

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Trash and debris collected during Beach Cleanup Day is consolidated into a pile before it is picked up and delivered to the landfill here Wednesday, Nov. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Trash and debris collected during Beach Cleanup Day is consolidated into a pile before it is picked up and delivered to the landfill here Wednesday, Nov. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lindsay Jacobs, VAFB contractor and volunteer, separates collected items into groups of trash and recyclables during Beach Cleanup Day here Wednesday, Nov. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lindsay Jacobs, VAFB contractor and volunteer, separates collected items into groups of trash and recyclables during Beach Cleanup Day here Wednesday, Nov. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Peterson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The third annual Vandenberg Air Force Base beach cleanup took place today at Minuteman, Wall, and Surf Beach.
 
"It is estimated around 10 percent of our plastic waste alone ends up in our oceans," said Jessica Johnson, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental specialist. "Some detrimental effects of waste on beaches include the formation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a large collection of marine debris caught in an ocean gyre which is believed to be twice the size of the United States. This leads to the death of more than 100,000 marine animals as well as one million seabirds because they ingest the small pieces of plastic that break down in the ocean, which they believe is food. Collecting the waste on our beaches helps remove some of the waste that washed up and prevents any more waste from entering the ocean."

Approximately 100 volunteers participated in the cleanup, the majority of which were military personnel.

The event coincides with America Recycles Day, a nationwide initiative of Keep America Beautiful, Nov. 15. Volunteers and interested parties were able to stop by educational tables at the beach cleanup to gain information and participate in activities to learn about the importance of recycling.

"Recycling on base has helped Vandenberg increase their diversion rates dramatically each year," said Johnson." A diversion rate represents the amount of waste that would have been put into the landfill, but instead has been diverted away, and recycled into a new product. We are currently just under the diversion rate goals of 54 percent. If we take responsibility for the waste we produce by recycling on a daily basis, we can help meet or even surpass our diversion goals."

Johnson encouraged each office to implement a plan to recycle year-round.

"Another great way for everyone to support America Recycles Day is to ensure their offices are properly equipped to recycle, and encourage their office to collect their aluminum cans, glass bottles, and plastic bottles and turn them in for the Cash Refund Value to earn 5 cents for each commodity collected," Johnson said. "They can then use these funds towards office activities and functions."