5,800 Volunteers + 150,000 Pounds of Trash = a Cleaner San Diego

Today’s post comes from ILACSD’s Marketing Intern and USD student, Maddy Blake. Updated 5/3/2012 with new totals!

ILACSD’s Staff ready for the big day!

I Love A Clean San Diego celebrated its 10th annual Creek to Bay Cleanup this past Saturday, April 28th. An amazing 5,800 San Diegans joined together across the county to preserve and beautify their local environment. This year also marks the San Diego Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary, over 1200 of scouts took part in the cleanup to show their commitment to the environment and witness the effects that pollution has on their communities.

Volunteers separated trash and recyclables.

Thanks to all of these fantastic volunteers, San Diego is a much cleaner county. In fact, more than 150,000 pounds of trash and debris were removed from local parks, canyons, creeks, bays and beaches in the span of just three hours! As in years past, cigarette butts and plastic bags were among the most common items found, but this year, some of the most interesting items our volunteers picked up were a rocking horse, a bowling pin and a five-gallon container of pickles.

Daisy scouts pitch in at Creek to Bay.

With a total of 88 cleanup sites, the most we’ve ever had for Creek to Bay, there was somewhere for everyone to go and something for everyone to do. This year, cleanup events were held at five brand new sites in communities we hadn’t reached yet:

  • Paradise Hills – 40 volunteers filled an entire roll-away dumpster of debris
  • Spring Valley – 49 volunteers collected over 260 pounds of debris
  • Santa Ysabel – 20 volunteers removed 200 pounds of debris
  • Banker’s Hill – 49 volunteers removed 250 pounds of debris
  • University Heights – 32 volunteers can boast removing 1,200 pounds of debris

You read that right, at the site known as Camelot Canyon (the area beside the 163 at the Vermont St. bridge in University Heights), volunteers picked up 1,200 pounds of debris in that three hour timeframe and unfortunately there is more work to be done in that area. The site was brought to our attention by local University Heights resident, Alison Whitney, who bikes past the canyon on her way to work everyday. With the help of CalTrans and ILACSD, Alison organized this cleanup to make this corner of her community a little more enjoyable for local residents. Click here to read Alison’s interview with KPBS.

Just a sample of some of the debris picked up.

While about 40% of this year’s cleanup sites were in coastal areas, cleaning up inland sites like Camelot Canyon ensures that the trash will not travel down the watershed system and end up in our waterways, bays and the ocean. Furthermore, by expanding into the five new sites, an additional 2,000 pounds of debris were removed from the environment! After ten years, I Love A Clean San Diego still dedicates itself to county-wide programs and expanding its reach even farther to preserve and ensure a healthier San Diego for everyone.

Volunteers painting over graffiti near Fashion Valley Mall.

Picking up trash is not the only activity our volunteers participated in – many sites included other beautification projects such as graffiti removal, mural painting, native planting, brush maintenance and other general park maintenance.

Don’t forget – if you joined us at Creek to Bay this year, remember to submit your favorite photo to ILACSD for our Sony Volunteers In Action photo contest! Photos are due on May 4, 2012, then the top 3 photos will be posted on our Facebook page, where our fans will vote for their favorite. The winner will be announced on May 18th! Click here for more details.

We want to thank ALL of the volunteers who took time out of their weekend to do more with their morning at the 10th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup! We’d like to give a special thank you to the following volunteer groups who came out to show their love for a clean San Diego:

  • Local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormon Helping Hands Service Day
  • Girl Scouts, San Diego-Imperial Council
  • Sony
  • Gothic Volunteer Alliance
  • Torrey Pines Elementary School
  • Palabra Miel Oceanside
  • Vista Magnet Middle
  • Palquist Elementary School
  • Palomar College TRiO
  • New Haven Youth and Family Services
  • Temecula Kids for Peace
  • PASS AmeriCorps
  • Nokia
  • Ramona High School Fusion
  • Toler Elementary School
  • Starwood San Diego
  • LEVI
  • Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School
  • Mueller Charter School
  • Pima Medical Institute
  • AMC Plaza Bonita 14
  • TSC San Diego
  • Pima Medical Institute
  • San Ysidro High School Surf Club
  • Montgomery Middle School

Volunteer Spotlight: Bob and Jan Rogers

For many years, Bob and Jan Rogers saw a need for beach cleanups and public awareness about clean water in their local community. Since 2004, the couple have been site captains at Beacon’s Beach for ILACSD’s annual Creek to Bay Cleanup and have even involved their family in the fun. “When we first started with the beach cleanup program, our sons were part of the volunteers cleaning the beach. They are now married and our son, Jesse, and his wife work as our bilingual co-captains. Our son, Randy, and his wife, Virginia, also help out as volunteers – they now have a daughter, Sierra, and she is also part of the beach cleanup crew.”

Because the family spends so much time together at Beacon’s Beach (and it’s Bob’s favorite surfing location!), they realize the importance of keeping the water clean and safe and value being a part of this volunteer effort every year.

One of the main goals of the Creek to Bay Cleanup is for residents to gain a sense of ownership of the local environment, especially by teaching the next generation of San Diegans the importance of keeping our community clean. Bob and Jan say, “It’s a  great learning experience for the kids. A friend of ours brought her son to Beacon’s years ago and now wherever they go to the beach he picks up trash. They are the stewards of the environment.” The Rogers family also encourages all of the volunteers at their site to bring their own reusable supplies, like gloves and buckets, so that they aren’t producing more waste by using plastic bags and latex gloves at the cleanup.

All of us here want to thank Bob, Jan and the entire Rogers family for dedicating their time each year to cleaning their local beach and spreading awareness about the importance of keeping San Diego clean to their community!

The Rogers Family!

What motivated you both to volunteer with ILACSD?

We moved to Leucadia in ’96 and saw the need for beach cleanups and public awareness about clean water.  We love the beach and feel we all have a responsibility to give back.

How long have you been volunteering with ILACSD?

In 1998 we organized our first beach cleanup at South Pontos.  Surfriders sent us to Coastkeepers and from there we made contact with ILACSD.  With each group we’ve met friends that share our interest in the environment.

How long have you been a site captains for Creek to Bay?

We have collected some of the posters from our beach cleanups.  After checking the posters we figured we began around 2004.

Have you always been a captain at one particular site?

We captain Beacon’s Beach for Creek to Bay, South Pontos for “Day After the Mess” and back to Beacon’s Beach for the Sept. Coastkeeper International Beach cleanup.

Why is that site important to you?

This is our neighborhood beach.  It attracts families so we get a lot of children at the cleanups.  Bob also surfs Beacon’s.

What is your favorite part of participating in the Creek to Bay cleanup?

The returning people that come back year after year and the kids.

Why do you think cleanups like Creek to Bay are important to keeping San Diego healthy and clean?

It’s a vehicle for getting the word out about keeping beaches and our waterways clean.  It’s a  great learning experience for the kids.  A friend of mine brought her son to Beacon’s years ago and now wherever they go to the beach he picks up trash.  They are the stewards of the environment.  It’s a great event.

What is the strangest piece of trash you’ve found at a Creek to Bay Cleanup?

Led Zepplin album and a jar of pickles (?).  In the future, it would be nice to see no balloons, cigarettes and plastic trash bags.  Also, volunteers bringing their own supplies to cut down on the debris we generate.

We love doing this.  It is so rewarding.

Registration for ILACSD’s annual Creek to Bay Cleanup is now open at www.creektobay.org. Out of the 86 cleanup sites around San Diego county, there’s bound to be one near you! Join us on Saturday morning, April 28th to be a steward of the environment and do more with your morning.

Get a Little Dirty This Valentine’s Day

Sometimes cleaning up our environment means we have to get a little dirty in the process, but that doesn’t stop our volunteers!

Cupid's Cleanup 2011

Each year around Valentine’s Day, I Love A Clean San Diego organizes the Cupid’s Cleanup as a way for eco-minded singles, couples, and friends to show their love for a clean San Diego by cleaning up an area of our local community. We put on smaller cleanups like Cupid’s each month in communities across San Diego county who have well, gotten a little dirty. We announced last week that in 2011 we mobilized more than 29,000 volunteers who picked up 241 tons of trash from our community’s beaches, waterways, canyons, and parks.

Why get dirty at these cleanups?

Events like Cupid’s cleanup are vital to the health of our local environment and are an important part of preserving the San Diego way of life that we all love so much. Keeping trash out of our ocean not only helps the animals who live there, but also makes it safer for all San Diego residents to swim, surf and play in our coastal waters. If left where it was, that 241 tons of trash would have eventually made it’s way into our waterways and ultimately into the ocean. Who wants to hang out near a big batch of trash soup?

In addition to smaller monthly cleanups, ILACSD coordinates two of the largest countywide cleanup events each year, our signature event the Creek to Bay Cleanup coming up on April 28th, 2012, as well as Coastal Cleanup Day on September 15, 2012. This gives San Diego residents various volunteer options and they see first-hand how trash makes its way from inland communities all the way to the coast through San Diego County’s vast watershed system.

To sign up for Cupid’s Cleanup contact our Community Events Coordinator, Jemma at jdeleon@cleansd.org or at 619.704.2778 today!

Can’t make it to Cupid’s but want to find out about other upcoming events? Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter!

Intern Focus: Christina, Community Events Intern

Christina Diette came to I Love A Clean San Diego in September 2011 looking to gain experience in event coordination and make use of a love for the outdoors that she gained growing up in a rural community.  Since her start as the Community Events Intern, she has attended six outreach events and cleanups, and has spent countless hours in the office helping with event preparation, volunteer recruitment, and program maintenance.

Christina, right, with ILACSD staff at an outreach event

My father often tells me that he doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. Somehow, I seem to have gained the same mentality. Almost three years after earning my undergraduate degree in History, I have yet to determine what I want to be when I grow up. With our current economy making it hard for graduates such as myself to find careers pertaining to our degrees, the world may still hold opportunities to travel down a rewarding path. Over the past four months, that path in my life has been with I Love A Clean San Diego.

According to Daniel Pink in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, people are more motivated and satisfied in their work lives if they believe they are working for a purpose greater than themselves. As an intern at ILACSD, I do believe I am working toward a greater cause. With every email I send asking for volunteers and with every early Saturday morning I spend checking in volunteers at clean-up sites, I am making a difference in this organization’s ability to fulfill its mission to help the community learn about and participate in enhancing our local environment.

My experience at ILACSD has been varied and eye opening. I have had the opportunity to see firsthand the extreme amount of refuse that ends up in the Tijuana River. I helped young children recognize the difference between trash and recyclables at a street fair. I spent an evening at a mixer surrounded by eco-conscious locals and vendors on the rooftop of a green-certified hotel, and walked the streets of Pacific Beach counting cigarette butts to determine the success of the organization’s Cigarette Litter Prevention Program. I have always recycled, but this internship has showed me just how many more ways one can help make a difference.

Like my father, I may not know what I want to be when I grow up. I do know, however, that continuing to live an environmentally responsible lifestyle is a priority, wherever life takes me. Making a difference, however small, is the opportunity that ILACSD has afforded me and what I have learned here will stay with me always.

Environmental Education and Our Nearby Nature Program

Education plays a large part in our mission to actively conserve and enhance the environment here in San Diego. Each year, we conduct a variety of outreach programs to educate youth in the San Diego region about properly conserving our local environment. This helps guide them in developing good habits at a young age, that then become part of daily life and ultimately result in a healthier, cleaner, and more vibrant San Diego for future generations.

We believe that the best way to educate today’s youth is to emerge them in hands-on activities. We want to instill a lifelong appreciation for the local environment by providing opportunities to cultivate a greater sense of responsibility for protecting it.

We provide environmental education and community outreach programs for elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as youth groups. Our Educators uses a variety of media, including presentations, storytelling, and hands-on demonstrations to teach topics such as: 

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Household Hazardous Waste
  • Litter Reduction
  • Used Oil Recycling
  • Ocean and Water Pollution Prevention
  • Watershed Education

We also offer an opportunity to expand their knowledge through place-based learning and nearby nature field trips, which have been proven more effective at instilling environmental knowledge among youth.

After the education in the classroom, we lead them in a service project in their local community, such as trash removal, habitat restoration, and storm drain stenciling to restore local waterways!  We also coordinate nearby nature field trips, where children can better understand and value the nature surrounding them every day. While many adults are able to give an account of a time when they experienced nature as a child, most of today’s children cannot (71% of adults vs. 26% youth according to a study by Manhattanville College conducted in 2004).

By educating our local youth about how they can help preserve our environment, the program will build a stronger sense of community pride and improve San Diego’s natural environment. A cleaner environment means a healthy community, which will improve the lives of all San Diego residents!

Are you a classroom teacher in a grade 3-6? Would you like a Nearby Nature experience for your grade level team? I Love A Clean San Diego is offering two lucky schools the opportunity to participate in Nearby Nature education programs!

What is Nearby Nature?

Educators will lead your entire grade level on walking field trips to your nearest “nature” area, providing guided hikes and standards based outdoor learning activities. This is an excellent opportunity for your students to experience nature firsthand! If you are interested or have questions, please send an email to education@cleansd.org today!

Nature education improves academic performance. When the environment is used as an integrating context for learning the school curriculum, students have shown better performance on standardized measures of academic achievement in reading, writing, math, social studies, and science. Additionally, teachers have seen reduced discipline and classroom management problems and increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning. Nature experiences help children develop a sense of place in their community and increase awareness of San Diego County habitats. Nature education programs can also increase environmentally responsible behavior, including students’ perceived knowledge of issues and action, environmental sensitivity, and intention to act. – Source: San Diego Children & Nature’s “Nearby Nature School Field Trips” Guidebook