SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- Volunteers took to the beaches Saturday for "Coastal Cleanup Day" in Santa Monica.
Gloves were passed out to helping hands as volunteers geared up to clean the coast.
"It feels good to help clean up the beach, be part of a community event," David Chernack of Manhattan Beach said.
More than 1,000 people gathered at the Santa Monica Pier for 'Coastal Cleanup Day,' the world's largest volunteer event to protect the environment.
The local efforts were organized by Heal the Bay.
"Not a lot of people realize that the trash they see on the ground can end up here on the beach or in the ocean, harming our fish and dolphins and whales," Shelley Luce, President and CEO of Heal the Bay, said.
Luce said the ultimate goal is to not have any trash to pick up.
The number one item that we find on beaches is cigarette butts; the other major polluter is plastic.
"Today is a real education day," Luce said. "It's really eye opening for people when they see what happens to the litter that's on our streets, where it ends up."
"Coastal Cleanup Days" are extremely effective. More than 800,000 pounds of trash and recyclables were taken from California's coast and waterways in only three hours last year.
People of all ages joined in the cleanup. Volunteers in more than 150 countries around the world joined in, cleaning thousands of beaches, waterways and inland areas.
"This is how people really connect with their environment, connect with the ocean, feel good that they've really collected some trash and kept it out marine life," Luce said. "And help keep our beaches clean."