Over 200 Volunteers Clean Up Lodi Lake

Lodi Lake lookin’ fresh and clean.

Lodi Lake lookin’ fresh and clean.

Last Saturday 246 volunteers showed up at Lodi Lake to clean up all of the trash. Saturday, September 15th, was Coastal Cleanup day and volunteers came to the lake, gloves on, ready to get to work. They picked up trash from all around the lake, and a few volunteers even rode out on kayaks to pick up floating garbage off the water’s surface. Toward the end of the event, despite the park being filled with hundreds of volunteers and visitors, it felt noticeably more peaceful. At first I attributed it to the nice weather, but then I realized it was because there was no garbage to distract from the beauty of the lake. With the garbage gone, you could just soak in nature and let it work its peaceful magic. The hundreds of volunteers who showed up that Saturday morning picked up a few hundred pounds of trash from around the lake and really did our city, and anyone visiting the lake, a huge favor.

Volunteers combining accumulated trash

Volunteers combining accumulated trash

Coastal Cleanup day is day dedicated to beautifying and restoring land by the water. It’s also a day to draw attention to the litter problem and provide a chance for volunteers to be directly involved in being part of the solution to the problem. Lodi wasn’t the only city cleaning up their waterways that morning. Coastal Cleanup is a world wide event. California Coastal Cleanup is the largest volunteering event in the US (not the just the state, the entire nation) and International Coastal Cleanup day is the largest volunteering event world wide. Kathy Grant, who runs the program through the city, shared that this was the 16th year Lodi has participated. The City of Lodi orchestrates the event, but Kathy says it’s the partners, the partners being all the groups who volunteer, who make the whole thing possible. “The partners are the people who come back year after year after year, like the teachers, like all the different organizations, like the businesses and that’s why this day works. Not because of me, it’s because of them that we can do this.”

Starbucks employees volunteering at the Lake.

Starbucks employees volunteering at the Lake.

When I arrived at Lodi Lake, all of the volunteers were picking up trash and bringing it back to the parking lot where they were separating it and recording what they had found. Each group had a sheet of paper (a data card) that they were documenting their separate piles. “So they’re sorting everything, they’re going to count it and then their cards are telling me by site where the trash came from,” explained Kathy. “Then it goes into a database and we will have 16 years of telling us where this trash is coming from. We also send this to the Coastal Commission who puts it into a larger database that’s all over the world.” David Diskin, who was there with the Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers, said his group alone counted over 200 cigarette butts. “And we were only walking around one part of the shore here,” he said. “Lodi is a livable and lovable place but not with a lot of trash around it. We’re happy to be able to making the city look a little bit nicer and keep it livable and lovable.”

Counting cigarette butts :P

Counting cigarette butts :P

Kathy introduced me to one guy named Mike who was from Zimbabwe and lives here now. She wanted me to see how this really is a worldwide event. Mike was out with his two boys, who are 12 and 7, and half a world away, his wife was in South Africa at the exact same event. “My wife is visiting her mother and family in South Africa and she happened to be on the beach today and saw a whole lot of people doing the Coastal Cleanup in South Africa. She knew we were doing the Coastal Cleanup over here so she sent us a photograph of what was going on there and I got to send her some pictures of the boys cleaning up. Kathy let us do trash pick up on the kayaks.” His younger son piped in, “I got a tarp!” “You took a tarp out there? How did you fit that on a kayak?” I asked. “No, I found a tarp.” “You found a tarp?” “Yeah.” “He pulled it out of the water.” Mike said. The volunteers who were out really did pick up a lot of garbage. From tarps to fast food containers to cigarette butts to fishing string and so on, if it was out there they cleaned it up. And thank goodness these volunteers were picking up all this trash because I’m sure not one of us wants to see our city looking dirty. We’re too proud to have our beloved Lodi Lake filled with things like tarps.


Looking at all the garbage that was collected can feel overwhelming and disappointing. But with events like this, it’s a friendly reminder that for all the trash that’s out there, there’s even more good people who are willing to come clean it up. Sometimes they just need a little extra encouragement with special events like Coastal Cleanup. Having all of the trash removed from the lake completely changed the energy and made it feel peaceful. There were 246 volunteers participating in with the Coastal Cleanup, but there were also a lot of people who were at the lake independent of the event, most of them walking their dogs, picking up trash as they went and offering their own gesture of appreciation to the lake. There were a lot of youth out this day, and  it’s good to know most of the kids who volunteered will probably take away an awareness about how they treat nature and the confidence to solve problems, meaning we’ll have even more people keeping Lodi livable and lovable.