Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hippy Heroes

The Diaz family -- Lorenzo, his wife Patti and their three young kids -- has picked up roughly 500 pounds of trash over the last year-and-a-half. They are rubbish renegades, so-to-speak, who go around their hometown beaches and lagoons in North San Diego County scouting out plastics and other debris. Not only do they take the pollution out of the water, but they also pack it out, sort it, record the data, and recycle what they can to minimize the strain on the landfills.
“We started to notice how much trash was on the beach about 10 years ago when we would take our first baby to the beach and let her crawl in the sand,” Lorenzo says. “We were shocked every time she would pick up a bottle cap and aim it to her mouth. Now we always ask all three of our kids to pick up 10 pieces of trash each before we leave the beach. One day my daughter picked up 100 pieces of trash in 15 minutes. That’s when we realized we had to do something about it.”
And so, that’s how Lorenzo and Patti created H2O Trash Patrol in 2010. The non profit’s mission is to clean up those hard to reach places in and around the water by providing “custodial” services to the waterways for the benefit of the environment, public safety and health, and local businesses who utilize the nearby waterways as an added benefit to their local customers and tourists. The Diaz’s recently pulled 150 pounds of trash alone out of San Diego Harbor using their stand up paddle boards. You can check out the H2O Trash Patrol web site by clicking here.
One of the most alarming facts about all this garbage is the high toxicity of plastics, Lorenzo says.
“Plastics keep breaking down to what looks like plankton and krill and is ingested up the food chain,” he says. “Even at that size small pieces of plastic still leach out toxins. So if you eat fish, chances are high that it is tainted with PCB's and other toxic pollutants. Plastic water bottles and containers labeled BPA free have been found to be as bad or worse than non BPA plastics. Every bit of plastic that has been made is still around today in our landfills and oceans. The plastic debris floating in the 5 gyres  of the ocean  take up one-fourth of the planet’s surface; that’s a lot of trash! The only way to reduce the massive plastic dilemma is to refuse it, especially the ‘one-time use’ plastics.”
In recognition of the Diaz’s passion for preventing more plastics and other trash from tainting the eco system, the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation in Carlsbad, Calif., recently awarded H2O Trash Patrol with its Environmental Hero Award.
And to think, it all started with Lorenzo's and Patti’s drive to teach their own kids environmental responsibility.
“In the hopes of making a small and easy contribution to society, we focus on teaching our kids the simple idea that you should always try to leave a place better than when you found it.”
Lorenzo, Patti and their kids are true stewards of the Earth. Thank you for your endless efforts and inspirations.
Below are some photos of H2O Trash Patrol in action, as well as an interview I did with H2O in 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Diaz family!! LOVE to hear and see other people doing this. BUT you went above and Beyond. Thanks DH for this blog post.. it is inspiring.. I have always taught ALL 5 of my kids to leave a place cleaner than when you found it. Camping, Hiking, Day at the park and of course a day at the Beach! I hope my kids teach their kids and since 2 of them have kids.. I will be influencing them too!