Black Silly Putty: you should care about cleaning up our beaches


HUNTINGTON BEACH AFTER devastating 126,000 gallon oil spill on Saturday, Oct. 2. Christian Monterrosa / EPA

Brookelynn Hodgin | Writer

October 15, 2021

Black Silly Putty

I remember being a little girl and playing with the black silly putty on the beach. 

It was thick and dry, and was a pain to wash off of my hands and feet.

But I miss playing with the black silly putty,

Splashing in the waves,

And waking the next day


“Oh, if only I put on more sunscreen.”

The older I grow,

The more I miss being a little girl

Who plays on the beach,

Hands full of black silly putty.


As I continue to grow,

The more I realize 

That the black silly putty

Wasn’t silly putty at all.

After the massive oil spill that happened last weekend along the southern California coast, debate over the legitimacy and security of the current laws and regulations on oil pipelines became increasingly relevant. While the cause of the oil spill is currently under investigation, it still raises the question: when will enough be enough?

While large oil spill rates have decreased in the past 50 years, this past decade has witnessed nearly two major oil spills a year just from tankers. And since 1978, almost 8,000 pipeline incidents, roughly 300 a year, have occurred. 

Growing conservation movements seek reform toward oil pollution that has been impacting our beaches and oceans since the 1970s. With each incident, more and more people became in support of finding cleaner solutions to storing, transporting, and drilling oil. While this could be potential for a brighter, more ecologically conscious future, the effects of oil production and consumption are already more than visible.

Many of us remember going to the beach as children and coming home with a giant chunk of black tar stuck to our feet. This tar is oil remnants which wash up on beaches. They can also occur naturally through natural oil deposits underwater, however the abundance of it found on Orange County beaches is from the mass oil production in the Pacific Ocean. Particularly in San Diego county, beaches have found that the buildup of black tar on the sand has been increasing. The sad truth is that the standard of beaches continues to decrease.

“Oftentimes near the pier I see people throwing a cup at a trash can and rarely does it go in,” sophomore Emily Forster said. “Whenever I go [to the beach] I see quite a bit of trash and waste.” It is normal to head down to T-Street and run into trash, wrappers, and even drug paraphernalia. Our beaches were not always like this. 

We are privileged and should be grateful to be living in such a beautiful place like San Clemente, and should treat it as such. Without our beaches, San Clemente would not have such a widely enjoyed surf culture. There would be no place to go with your friends over the summer. There would be no place to go sit alone to watch the waves and read a good book. The beach is more than just a place where there is sand and a large body of water, it is also the place that shapes many communities’ way of life, especially ours.

To most of us, the beach is where we feel most ourselves. “My life has revolved around the ocean and the beach since I was a baby,” senior Carolyn Sachse said. “The ocean is my happy place. Whether I’m surfing, swimming, free diving or just hanging out at the beach, I feel most at home in the ocean.” Our beaches provide people a sense of community and belonging — and we need to ensure that feeling won’t be tainted by our actions. 

As we all get older the more we begin to understand how poorly we treat our home and the impacts of how we treat it. We, as a community, should be looking for ways to clean our beaches and protect our oceans. 

Everyone can look to better themselves, too. Using a reusable water bottle can save 150 plastic bottles annually, helping battle plastic pollution. There are also so many opportunities around the school, through clubs, teachers, and even just with your friends, to get a group together and head down to the Pier to do some beach cleaning. 

Creating a cleaner environment is a marathon, not a race. But it’s going to take everyone to make a change. The longer we take it all for granted, the less time we have to fix it.

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