by David Goldstein

Coastal Cleanup Day is Saturday, Sept. 18, and organizers are offering both designated sites for groups as well as options for people uncomfortable with gatherings. 

The event website at lists 11 Ventura County beaches and eight inland sites (chosen for accessibility and amount of litter) for group cleanups on Sept. 18. Those choosing to participate in self-guided cleanups can pick their own sites and dates in September and record their results on the Clean Swell app. Search for the Clean Swell app at the App Store or on Google Play.

The Ocean Conservancy has a downloadable poster with instructions for using the Clean Swell app at This free app features icons to conveniently record what you find, snap photos, provide details (such as who you are with), and post to social media. Volunteers working at their own sites miss out on the free tee shirts available at group sites but can earn an electronic badge instead. After users input data, the app provides the badge, along with congratulations for “a job whale done.”

For those unable to download the app, paper data collection cards are available, in English or Spanish, through, which also has other guidelines and resources. Also, even without the app, participants are encouraged to share cleanup experiences on social media, using the hashtags #coastalcleanupday and #protectyourhappyplace.

The group options, which take place 9 a.m. to noon at the specified sites, require participants to follow the most recent Ventura County Public Health orders, which are updated regularly at Social distance where possible, and expect to wear a mask, at least when gathering for supplies and drop-off of collected litter. To further reduce close interaction, print and sign the waiver available on the website, and bring it with you when you arrive.

In consideration of a different kind of health and safety, wear a hat and apply sunscreen before arriving. To reduce waste, whether participating at the group sites or on your own, bring your own reusable bucket, gloves and water bottle. 

Since inland litter often ends up at the ocean, the inland sites organized for group cleanup events are generally along waterways, including Calleguas Creek in Camarillo, Sespe Creek in  Fillmore, Conejo Creek in Thousand Oaks, Arroyo Simi in Simi Valley and the Santa Clara River in Ventura. A group site in Ojai is new this year. Volunteers are meeting at 9 a.m. at a location to be revealed by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC) only in response to RSVPs, which should be sent to

From the meeting site, up to 20 volunteers will proceed to the Ventura River Confluence Preserve, where San Antonio Creek meets with the Ventura River. When water flows, litter is deposited on the shores of that area, but the entire site is dry now, creating a good opportunity for litter removal, according to Adam Morrison, the OVLC’s volunteer and events coordinator. There is some poison oak by the stream, so the OVLC will provide litter collection tools, but volunteers should wear long sleeves, long pants and closed-toe shoes. 

Litter cleanup at sites protected by the OVLC became increasingly important last year, as some of Ventura County’s most prized nature areas became crowded with people excluded from closed hiking spots in Los Angeles. Some Ventura County sites affected by the influx of people and litter, such as the Punchbowls trail near Santa Paula and Paradise Falls in Thousand Oaks, shut down. Crowds also swarmed and littered Ojai’s trails, but rather than shut down, the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy hired extra workers to act as docents in sensitive areas.

Those participating in Coastal Cleanup on their own this year are encouraged by Coastal Cleanup Day outreach material to “protect your happy place,” wherever that may be. This could be a nearby park, or even your own neighborhood.

Last year, the event was entirely self-guided, with no central organization of group cleanup sites. Ventura County had 1,046 registered participants. This was far more than comparable counties and almost as many volunteers as Los Angeles.

For more information:

David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst with Ventura County Public Works, can be reached at 805-658-4312 or