Removing trash from the bay

By Krista Van Tassel
July 3rd, 2014

Dear Environmental Forum Readers –

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Lenka Leon

It is my pleasure to introduce Lenka Leon, our newest guest blogger. Lenka, a compliance specialist at Wells Fargo Foundation, is responsible for processing charitable contribution requests in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, North Dakota and South Dakota. She’s been involved with the San Francisco Green Team for three years, serving as volunteer liaison and leading several volunteer events a year. She’s also a member of the company’s San Francisco Volunteer Chapter. Today she is sharing her experience in helping lead a volunteer group of Wells Fargo, and PG&E team members in a water education and beach cleanup event. Thanks, Lenka! – KVT

Over the last six months the Wells Fargo Green Team in San Francisco has been collaborating with the Business Council on Climate Change (BC3), a network that includes more than 100 San Francisco-based organizations working together to “secure a vibrant future for our city and our planet.” Our Wells Fargo team joined together with the PG&E and Salesforce teams to develop a series of local events that focus on building awareness of environmental issues for team members at all of our participating companies.

Since California has been facing one of the most severe droughts in the past 40 years, our focus has been on water. In March, our collective team hosted a lunch-and-learn event where a BC3 Fellow Rielle Green talked about the challenges arising from the extreme weather conditions and shared some useful tips on water conservancy.

On June 8, the Wells Fargo Green Team organized a volunteer event as part of World Ocean’s Day. We were joined by fellow Green Team members from PG&E and Salesforce who helped clean up the beach at Aquatic Park and the surrounding Maritime Park. The volunteer event was hosted by the Bay Institute of San Francisco and the Aquarium of the Bay. These two organizations work together to protect, restore and inspire the conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed.

Last year, the Bay Institute of San Francisco and the Aquarium of the Bay received a $25,000 Wells Fargo grant from our Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program. The grant was donated in support of their joint Zero at the Gate program, which seeks to reduce the ocean plastic footprint of 8 million people living in San Francisco Bay watershed and to support a healthy environment for marine ecosystems.

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Prior to the beach cleanup, 25 volunteers enjoyed coffee and pastries at the Sea Lion Center to the sound of barking mammals in the background; the second most visited attraction in San Francisco only after the Golden Gate Bridge. The Center opened January 17, and provided an informative and pleasant start to the day for the volunteers.

Maggie Ostdahl and Brian Baird from Aquarium of the Bay addressed the problem of marine debris and plastic pollution. We learned that an estimated 80% of the trash in the world’s oceans originate from land-based sources. Volunteers were also able to view the education displays and programming funded in part by our grant. One of the Wells Fargo Green Team leaders, Joanne Lasnier, shared her extensive knowledge of sea lions and marine life she gained while volunteering at the Marine Mammal Center.

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In addition to our group, there were another 40+ volunteers who joined to celebrate the environmental event, including some diving to clean up underwater. More than 60 pounds of trash were removed from the shoreline. Most of it consisted of light items like cigarette butts and variety of other common trash items such as plastic bags, plastic wrappers, beverage bottles, and takeout food containers. Another estimated 200+ pounds of trash was removed from underwater, which included heavy items like pipes and metal debris.

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate World Ocean’s Day. While helping the Bay and ocean to stay clean, volunteers also enjoyed sunny skies and breathtaking scenery that continues to attract visitors from all over the globe. It was truly amazing to have such a great level of participation and we’re looking forward to hosting another cross-company volunteer event again and work together toward improving and protecting the quality of the natural environment.

Tags:   financing   grant   San Francisco   volunteer   
Krista Van Tassel

Krista Van Tassel

As Community and Team Member Engagement manager for Wells Fargo’s Environmental Affairs Team, Krista supports the company’s 70+ Green Teams, recognizing and promoting environmental innovator best practices, and engaging and educating team members about their role in helping the company’s sustainability efforts. She also manages Wells Fargo’s Environmental Solutions for Communities’ $3 million annual nonprofit grant program focused on helping make long-term sustainable economic investments in local communities where its customers and 264,000 team members work and live. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2009, Krista worked in a variety of sustainability and marketing positions in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. Krista earned her MBA in International Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

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