Saddleback student conducts local beach and creek cleanup days around South Orange County

San Juan Creek. (Shannon1 – Wikipedia/Courtesy)

Waterfronts and cleanup. A large task undertaken by a student with a time-consuming job and a set of classes vying for her attention. To most, picking up a plastic bottle on the ground is an afterthought, to Morgan Miscione it becomes her desired way to spend most Sundays.

Morgan Miscione attends Saddleback for environmental studies and sticks to her mantra of keeping the planet clean every week. Combing the beach or riverbed, one burger wrapper or six pack soda ring at a time, Miscione began to go out to public beaches and waterways in the Southern Orange County area around the start of the spring semester.

“I try to make it down to the beach every single day and every time I’m there, anything around me, I’m going to pick up,” Miscione says. “I have a set day which is Sunday to go clean up San Juan Creek because a lot of people ignore the fact that that’s a huge channel for trash to enter the ocean and so much stuff gets thrown into that, especially with the increase in homelessness in our area.”

Posting about the feat on Instagram, Miscione reached out to her followers asking anyone to join her on set cleanup days each Sunday to help keep our waterways free of litter. 

Although Miscione just began her initiative, the distilling of cleaning up her surroundings began at a young age. Interested in the future of the planet and the sustainability she could provide in the moment, she sought out ways to share this passion with others.

“Since I was nine years old, it was instilled enough that we had to pick up trash that’s not ours’, ” Miscione says. 

Work and weather challenges prove an obstacle to continue getting out regularly, yet Miscione does not let them phase her commitment.

While the rain is much needed here in Southern California, the land could only drink up so much leaving the rest to the sea. Trash then ends up on shores following excessive rainfall as seen in Feb. 2019 where trash from the San Gabriel and Santa Ana Rivers landed on the shores of Seal, Huntington and Newport Beaches respectively. 

Groups like Save Our Beach attempt the garbage pickup routine on a monthly basis for Seal Beach whereas Cleanup OC does the same for San Clemente and Huntington Beach, but in between those monthly roundups trash is compiling. Miscione targets to more consistently round up volunteers and make an impact on lacking cleanliness in our natural waterfronts.

Upon asking which methods Miscione recommends to get people into the swing of promoting eco-friendly habits, she details how limiting your waste to start with prevents any potential build-up leading to being disposed of out in the world.

“Don’t collect so much waste in the first place so you don’t have to worry about where it goes,” Miscione says. “Be conscious about everything you do knowing what you buy, the process it takes to get to you, really taking the extra five to ten minutes to understand what you’re doing and find a purpose that you can walk through this life and help people with.”

While it may be construed with classic hippie ideals, an ecocentric future benefits Miscione believes and does more than just ensuring plastic bottles are recycled to then sip from again in the future.

Asking Miscione where she believes the planet is heading 20 years on from where we stand now warrants a more optimistic take than most of what National Geographic’s “marine pollution facts and information” page will distill for hope.

“There is the hopeful, exciting new wave of eco-consciousness, but there are also big corporations that don’t care,” Miscione says. “Until we see a shift in the big companies and politics, our hope won’t really have a big effect. I see a lot of different options and I feel it’s important to do your part.”

Miscione plans for the summer to hold exciting times for her initiative as many people have already reached out to her on Instagram noting their willingness to join in on the fight against pollution. Once her schedule eases up a bit, Miscione is planning to go out in waves with prospective people who reached out and start to make a dent in the San Juan Creek and T Street Beach areas around where she lives.

“There are beaches all along the coast so if you’re ten, 15. 20 or 30 minutes minutes away from the beach then go do it,” Miscione says. “It’s a nice trip and you’ll be benefiting the environment you’re a part of.”

In between her busy work and school scheduling, Miscione heads out whenever possible remaining on top of her self-appointed duty seeing it as the reason why she’s here, to keep the planet in good shape.

The chat ended in how Miscione believed it’s time to rise up against the system, forgetting what generation we are and continuing to still urge all the millennials, who she may or may not have been a part of, seek further change on our beachfronts.