Another modest Outside Lands beach cleanup
On Saturday, for the fourth year in a row, the Outside Lands Music Festival sponsored a beach cleanup at Ocean Beach the morning of the festival’s second day. And for the fourth year in a row, the turnout was modest.
The event was sponsored by several local businesses, most prominently San Franpsycho. Andy Olive of San Franpsycho said he was proud to associate his brand with the cleanup.
“We want to show solidarity with other organizations that support Outside Lands’ mission to maintain an environmentally friendly festival,” Olive said.
Outside Lands includes the annual cleanup on most of its promotional materials as a centerpiece of its commitment to minimizing its impact on the neighboring community. And while hundreds responded on Facebook to attend, the actual turnout was much more modest, at around 50 volunteers.
As Blake Pearson of the San Francisco chapter of the Surfrider Foundation put it, the amount of volunteers was “pretty average” for the beach cleanups the organization hosts three times a month.
The relatively small number of people at the cleanup compared to Outside Lands attendance — about 0.0008 percent of the 60,000 expected at the festival Saturday — raises the question of just how much impact the Outside Lands Music Festival actually has on Ocean Beach itself.
It would seem reasonable to expect that the influx of visitors to the western end of Golden Gate Park would inevitably trickle to the beach at night, and wreak havoc. And the Ocean Beach Bulletin’s Twitter stream was active all weekend with neighbors reporting that they could hear the festival and that parking was a nightmare. But at the beach itself, Saturday morning looked pretty normal: The small-dog walkers congregated in their usual spot, the surfers were peppered along the coast, the fog hung stubbornly overhead and the beach didn’t look any dirtier than usual.
It was, with the exception of the giant music festival less than a mile inland, a typical Saturday at the beach.
And while the turnout at the cleanup might be interpreted as disappointing in comparison to festival attendance, the enthusiasm of the volunteers was far from it. San Franpsycho gave T-shirts to all volunteers, Java Beach provided coffee, Devil’s Teeth Baking Company supplied cookies, and Noriega Produce pitched in with bananas. The people combing the sand for trash were excited to be taking care of their coastline and communing with their neighbors.
“When people party, they don’t always think about the trash they create,” said Aleks Petrovich, owner of Aqua Surf Shop. “It’s nice that some of our neighbors turn out to keep our beaches clean.”
But as Surfrider’s Pearson pointed out, it didn’t even look like there had been that much partying spilling over from the festival. “It’s really foggy and cold, so that’s probably kept a lot of people off the beach,” Pearson explained. “We’ve definitely had regular sunny weekend cleanups with a lot more trash than this.”
Every person the Ocean Beach Bulletin spoke with at the cleanup turned out to be a neighborhood resident, and while most were attending the concert throughout the weekend, not all were.
“I live in the neighborhood and saw a flyer for the cleanup on Facebook,” explained Fritz Smith. “I was gonna head down here and surf anyway, so I figured I’d come clean up before I paddled out. I’m not even going to the festival this weekend.”
Which makes it even the more typical Saturday morning. Giant music festival or not, altruistic neighbors faced the chilly fog and cleaned Ocean Beach.