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Environmental Quality / 2013

Think Before You Trash

Think Before You Trash

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by

Grain of Sand - Granito de Arena (in Spanish) is a non-profit organization run by Ernesto Renella, (local business leader, surfer and community volunteer) to teach environmental awareness and stewardship to underprivileged children in local communities. The mission is to build a healthier environment and educate children to create a better world. The program teaches children that their daily decisions affect the beaches and marine environment around the world and shows them how to connect to nature through environmental awareness and surfing. “Being in the ocean is a much more personal experience than just looking at it from the beach or highway. Surfing is about being physically and mentally moved by the power of the ocean. By experiencing its energy directly affecting its own element and environment. Once these kids stand up the first time and ride a wave in, they never look at the water the same way again. The ocean transforms into something that they need to respect, maintain and protect so that future generations can enjoy it as much as they do. The way I see it, each person represents a grain of sand, standing alone one might seem small and insignificant, but working together with our neighbors we are powerful and can create a better future for everyone.”

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Teach surfing camps – surfing competitions Organize Beach Clean ups Be recognized by the community and other non profits as a local pro environmental organization Spearhead educational programs outside the classroom. Bring awareness to nature and environmental issues.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Heal the Bay Newton Police Activities League & other PALs Santa Monica Police Activities League & other “at risk groups” LA unified school district

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

It may be difficult to “measure” the success of my endeavor, because it is hard to evaluate the lasting impact that experience, education, awareness has on children. One thing I know for certain is that bringing a child, who has never been to the beach, to experience the sand and the ocean is something that is life changing. This action alone has a lasting and unmeasurable impact. Every child who comes through the program learns not just about how to take care of the beach and the oceans, but also how small daily efforts can impact the environment in a large and positive way. Armed with such knowledge, the students in turn learn about the responsibility of teaching others how to respect and take care of nature too. And lastly, when children learn about water safety and how to surf, they challenge themselves and embrace a healthier lifestyle.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

Grain of Sand - Granito de Arena brings inner-city children to the beach, and pairs them with local surfers and environmental speakers for a day of learning, surfing and beach clean ups. Through fun and mentorship, young people understand that the beach is just as much theirs as everyone else’s and it’s up to them to take care of it. The children develop an understanding of: the negative effects of water and land pollution, the impact that individuals and communities have on the ocean, the profound effects of recycling programs and the importance of wiser buying choices. Furthermore, exercising in nature through surfing encourages children to become more active and healthier.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

in light of public opposition over the The Clean Water, Clean Beaches ballot measure, that would pay to reduce storm water pollution, Los Angeles County supervisors may axe the proposed clean water fee. As it stands, the Clean Water, Clean Beaches measure would increase L.A. County resident’s property tax bills by about $54 for the typical homeowner and possibly thousands of dollars for some commercial property owners. The County spends an outrageous amount annually In grooming and cleaning our beaches on a daily basis. This fee could be rendered unnecessary altogether if everyone did their part in properly recycling trash and helping to keep storm drains free of debris.

By educating enough people to make environmental friendly consumer purchases, responsible trash disposal and to be aware that all storm drains end up in the ocean, citizens have the power to not only make a positive environmental impact, but also a fiscal impact as well. Instead of spending financial resources reacting to current problems, we can instead create a cleaner and greener future.