Steward of our Shores: Save Our Shores


By Joel Hersch

Save Our Shores continues to fight for the health of our ocean

Santa Cruz’s marine conservation organization, Save Our Shores (SOS), has mobilized thousands of volunteers for beach cleanups over its 30-year history, as well as advocated for policies that help protect the ocean. This summer, it coordinated more than 300 volunteers in the removal of 2,034 pounds of garbage off of 16 beaches in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties following the Fourth of July weekend. One hundred pounds of that weight came off of Santa Cruz’s Cowell and Main beaches, which was actually good news: it was a decrease from last year, when volunteers cleared out more than 330 pounds from the same two stretches of beach.

While the nonprofit remains a steady fixture in the community, getting the word out about its mission, providing environmental education opportunities, and bringing in new volunteers is as important as ever, says program manager Rachel Kippen, who led the cleanup efforts at Main and Cowell beaches during the July cleanup.

“There aren’t many environmental projects as rewarding as a cleanup,” she says. “You get to actively enjoy our beautiful coastline, perhaps in a new location you’ve never been to before. [And] once you start noticing garbage on the beach, you will likely have difficulty passing it by without wanting to throw it away.”

As the summer comes to a close and fall settles in, Kippen points to several events for people looking to do their part to help our gorgeous coastline.


Coastal Cleanup Day, taking place Saturday, Sept. 20 from 9 a.m. to noon, is one of the largest international volunteer events on the planet and is coordinated locally by Save Our Shores. “We clean pretty much every beach and river from as far north as Waddell Creek to as far south as Big Sur,” Kippen says. This year will be the 30th anniversary of the event and is expected to cover more than 75 locations along the Central California coast. Last year, SOS had 3,061 volunteers cleanup 17,147 pounds of garbage. The most interesting items to be recovered included an alligator boot and three mailboxes, says Kippen. Learn more at



On Wednesday, Oct. 8, SOS, which was a key player in banning the plastic bag from Santa Cruz supermarkets, will co-host a lecture with San Francisco-based science writer Susan Freinkel, the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story. “Her book on plastic is the most fascinating I have read on the subject,” Kippen says. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Sanctuary Exploration Center, located at 35 Pacific Ave. in Santa Cruz. The talk will begin at 6:45 p.m., but doors will open early for exhibit viewing and light appetizers. Learn more about Freinkel at


Due to illegal camping, bonfires and people partying in the hidden coves in the cliffs along North County’s beaches, SOS has had to focus much of its recent cleanup efforts in that area. Dubbed the “XStream Cleanup Program,” volunteers deploy at Davenport Main Beach the first Sunday of every month from 9-11 a.m., and at Panther State Beach on the fourth Sunday of every month during the same time, Kippen says. “These cleanups typically yield hundreds of pounds of garbage per event,” she says. “We have only had one cleanup in Davenport where we removed less than 100 pounds.” There will also be a Holiday Relief cleanup at Panther on Sept. 2, the morning after Labor Day, from 9-11 a.m. SOS provides all necessary cleanup materials including bags, buckets, gloves and data cards, though they encourage volunteers to bring a filled, reusable water bottle and to dress in layers. They also encourage volunteers to bring old buckets and work gloves, if possible. For more information on Save Our Shores events, visit



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