Everyone seeks out their own individual experience of nature, from those people who love nothing more than a silent walk in a rainshower to the adventurers who prefer a rigorous hike through a twisty canyon.
But regardless of our different approaches to connecting with the natural world, we can all agree on one thing: Our trash doesn't belong there. It's a simple statement, but one that's behind numerous spiffy-up efforts around California each year, including what's called "the state's largest volunteer effort."
It's Coastal Cleanup Day, and it draws cleaner-uppers from all over the Golden State, people who will fan out along beaches, and river banks, and lake shores, the better to collect plastic bags and bottles and the random items that wash onto the sand (or were never removed from the sand by the person who brought the item).
Local news from across Southern California
Thousands of volunteers are pitching in, and you can, too. Just pick a spot that's easy for you to reach on Saturday, Sept. 17, and register here. Locations around Southern California include Bolsa Chica State Beach, Topanga Beach, and several more Pacific-close stretches (but yes, several inland spots are on the map, too).
This particular effort, which is overseen by the California Coastal Commission, has been around for over 30 years, and the bits of detritus that have been collected by the massive annual effort run well into the millions.
If you're curious about what exactly is littering our beaches and banks, the commission has published a tally of some of the common finds, like straws/stirrers (some 736,595 were picked up from 1989 through 2014).
But collecting trash isn't just about how it impacts our human-based nature experience; we do it for all the critters that call our planet home, and the health of our waters, too.
So clear out the morning of Sept. 17, make for the shore, grab a bag, and join thousands of other Californians in one of the most important, and gratifying, group efforts we undertake all year.