Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach is a little cleaner because of David Hubbard.
The Hayden Elementary School first-grade teacher picks up 30 to 40 pounds of trash nearly every morning along — and just off — the highway. He’s often spotted around Ninth Street, the pier, the bike path and other landmarks.
“I like to get out in the morning before it gets really busy,” Hubbard said of his effort, which began about a year ago. “I get a lot of things that hopefully people coming to the beach aren’t exposed to like liquor bottles and paraphernalia from the night prior. I like to get that up and off the street and beach before people see it.”
He jokes that his part of town is the cleanest in Huntington because he personally sees to it.
Hubbard said he felt compelled to do his part after noticing an abundance of litter while walking his puppy. He invested in gloves, a Pick Stick, heavy-duty plastic bags and a miniature shopping cart to make the task both easier and more sanitary.
Water bottle caps are what he picks up most, he said, but he’s seen needles, dirty diapers, broken glass and shoes on his route.
Kids and parents sometimes stop to thank him, but others point and call him the “trash man.”
He doesn’t let those comments get to him, seeing them as teachable moments.
“I’ve had a few conversations with them where I usually say I’m a school teacher and when I’m not working, it’s what I do,” Hubbard said. “Educated working professionals can go out and be a part of this. We’re all responsible in keeping our world clean.”
During a recent school lesson, he told his students about what he does in his free time, hoping it helps them understand the importance of volunteering.
“I’ve gone to formal beach cleanups, but I always tell my students when we hit Earth Day it’s good to talk about it on this one day in April but we need to be doing this every day,” Hubbard said. “It’s an important thing.
Editor’s note: This is an installment of Unsung Heroes, an annual feature that highlights otherwise overlooked members of the community.