South Bay Giving Back: James Kao
For this week’s spotlight, we are shining a light on the awesome work that James Kao is doing to keep our beaches clean with his 52 Beach Cleanup Challenge.
Tell us a little about yourself?
“I grew up in the Palos Verdes Peninsula and spent much of my youth in Torrance and the Beach Cities. I’ve lived in Orange County and Long Beach and now I’ve been living in Redondo Beach for a few years. My brother and mother still live on the Peninsula and I see them frequently. I’m single and still searching for my soulmate. I work from home and globally as a freelance photographer specializing in travel, sports, active lifestyles and documentary work.”
Please tell us about your project. Describe what you are doing to support our community?
“At the beginning of the year, I started a personal project called the 52 Beach Cleanup Challenge. I modeled this after the 52 Hike Challenge that I completed last year which my friends started. The idea is to volunteer an hour a week to clean up the beach—any beach. Since I live in Redondo by the pier, that usually means the stretch of sand south of the Pier to Avenue C, but I’ve done cleanups in Hermosa Beach and Long Beach too. I do these cleanups whenever I have a break in my schedule and want to get some fresh air and exercise. I log each cleanup using a small chalkboard and post images on my social media to keep myself accountable and to inspire others.”
Who are you supporting with this project?
“My project supports the beautification of the City of Redondo Beach and the global effort to keep our oceans free of trash and plastics.”
What inspired you to do this project?
“For a few years, I’ve been doing beach cleanups with the Surfrider Foundation and Heal the Bay. Also, I have volunteer in Costa Rica to save sea turtles. I’m passionate about marine conservation and protecting our ocean wildlife. I’m an avid standup paddle boarder and I want to keep our oceans clean for recreational uses too. There’s nothing more disgusting than swimming or paddling through discarded food and drink containers!”
How can the community support your efforts?
“The community can help support my efforts by cleaning up the beach and paying attention to their consumption habits. Beach cleaning is a simple activity that anyone can do whenever they have a spare hour. You get to be outside, get some exercise, and do something good for the community. Plus, you become aware of our consumer habits that cater to convenience that negatively impact the environment.
I’m now doing my best to lead a zero-waste lifestyle by eliminating single-use plastics whenever I can. As I’ve cleaned, I’ve also taken steps to educate myself more on issues such as recycling, consumerism, and sustainability. I encourage everyone to support single-use plastic bans and to use reusable grocery bags, eating utensils, water bottles, and straws. It might seem like a small thing to ‘skip the straw’ or refuse to use a plastic grocery bag. You also may be asking how that could possibly make any difference. Believe me, it makes a world of difference. Unfortunately, the trash situation has gotten worse with the pandemic and we need to return to setting policies based on science and not fear.”
If you’re interested in participating in one of these cleanups, you can find him on Instagram as @jameskaofoto and @leftekoaster. On @leftekoaster, James will post about his cleanup activities and give tips on green living practices. Also, you can reach out through Facebook.
South Bay Mommies and Daddies is currently looking for individuals and businesses giving back to the community of South Bay and we need your help! Nominate an individual or local business that you would like to see featured on our website for giving back to the community! If you would like to nominate someone, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.