Shon Miller Inspires San Clemente 
With His Secret to Living

“It happens the same way every time,” says Shon Miller, Executive Director of the Beach Conservation Program, as he reflects on the youngest beach clean-up volunteers.

Miller says the two and three-year-olds show up a bit confused their first time out, picking up rocks and throwing them away. By the second or third time they come to help, they’re running around excitedly on the beach, picking up trash and showing it to the adults. Watching the children catch on to the cause is one of Miller’s favorite parts of running the program.

The Beach Conservation Program, with its flagship chapter in San Clemente, was established just less than a year ago, in August 2016. Miller started with a simple vision to mobilize the surf community to do a few beach clean-ups per year and set a positive example. Others caught the vision as well, and the program grew rapidly. Currently, Miller says there are about 400 volunteers involved in the San Clemente chapter, and the program has evolved into an international non-profit organization. There are programs in Portugal, France, Australia and Guatemala, as well as other beach cities in California, such as Huntington Beach and Malibu.

The San Clemente Beach Conservation Program (SCBCP) currently focuses on the San Clemente Pier, as well as State Beach, SanO, Trail 1 and Calafia, the latter two having already been adopted by the team through the California Coastal Commission’s Adopt-A-Beach program. Each clean-up brings about 50-100 pounds of trash off the beaches of San Clemente.

The clean-ups are held both in the mornings and in the evenings, usually on Fridays and Saturdays. All necessary cleaning materials are provided by SCBCP, including gloves and buckets. For the morning cleaning sessions, free breakfast and coffee provided by Blackbird Artisan Pies and La Galette Creperie. Night clean-ups involve pizza and s’mores provided by the SCBCP team. The program aims to make the clean-ups enjoyable, leaving plenty of room for fun and fellowship.

A sense of gratitude for and kindness towards the environment has been instilled in Miller since his childhood when his father taught him to make any place you go better than you found it. As he ventured into running his own businesses as an adult, he always had environmentalism on his mind. As a San Clemente native with a growing desire to help his community, Miller finally decided to follow the inspiration of Tony Robbins who says, “The secret to living is giving.” Miller says as soon as he started doing the beach clean-ups, he could tell that’s what he was supposed to do with his life.

Along the way, Miller has realized how much more needs to get done. Cleaning up the trash is a step in the right direction, but it shouldn’t end there. He says his team is working hard to model environmentalism in a more holistic way by turning waste into new products. Board Member of the Beach Conservation Program, Francois Jaubert is creating surfboards out of cardboard, and members of the Australia team are making surfboards out of wood from demolished houses.

From the surfboard makers to the youngest volunteers, Miller’s organization is inspiring people of San Clemente to be more mindful of their beautiful coastline.