“What’s special about these beach clean-ups is that once we pick up our trash, we’ll weigh it, sort it, and then use that data to lobby in Washington D.C. When you’re talking to senator’s in their office about your potential spot in the president’s budget, it really makes a difference,” Surfrider Foundation Club president Drea Libby said in her opening words to the attendees of the club’s Earth Day beach clean-up.
Over 60 LMU students made up of both interested beach-lovers and the club’s core volunteers gathered at Toes Beach this past Saturday for the event. It opened with a 45-minute yoga session led by senior journalism major and yoga instructor Isabel Minaglia, and transitioned into a two-hour beach clean-up in which the students picked up over 30 pounds of trash with gloves and bags supplied by the club.
When asked about the blend of yoga and beach clean-up, Libby said, “For me, Earth Day is about the well-being of mind, body, and spirit. To be in service to the environment and to be in service to yourself is what this day means to me. Showing up for yourself and Mother Earth in a mindful way on a beautiful day is an exercise in spiritual development and it’s a great bonding experience for everyone.”
The Surfrider Foundation Club is an organization that dedicates itself to the conservation of oceans and beaches in a variety of ways. It has chapters at the city and university level on both coasts, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Its LMU chapter does 3-4 beach clean-ups on average per semester and they have an “Ocean-Friendly Gardens Program” in the Sustainability Garden located behind Tenderich Apartments.They also have a “Clean Water Program” where the club collects water samples in the Ballona Wetlands with Heal the Bay, and an “Ocean Friendly Restaurants” program where they advocate for local restaurants that use environmentally sustainable business practices. These initiatives create intersectionality with the professional working world and are not limited to campus environments.
Established in 2020, Libby has been president of the club for two-and-one-half years. According to her, the club is just getting started. This March she was invited by Surfrider’s LA chapter to lobby for the “Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act” in Washington D.C. as a representative of the LA delegation. This comprehensive act will require businesses to be more accountable with plastic production and recycling in their cities.
Libby mentioned that Surfrider takes pride in being a bi-partisan organization and is not politically affiliated, staying true to its bottom line of saving the beaches and oceans, and creating a community of individuals who share this goal.
“We’re focused on the best interest of the oceans and beaches. I’m not a scientist or a politician, but you don’t have to be to make an impact with this club. We’re seeking members of the environmental sciences, those interested in political engagement, and those who love the ocean all the same,” said Libby. “That message is very important because people get intimidated by the level at which Surfrider operates. We lobby in D.C., we lobby in Sacramento, but the only prerequisite on a day like today is that you care about the ocean.”
The club blends community, idealism, and research to create a holistic form of activism that, according to Libby, organically attracts members.
“When you get together with like-minded people and have a purpose, you create a community that can make the world a better place.”