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Trash Trackers Prove Cleanups Are Effective

In the winter of 2010, San Diego CoastKeeper and I Love A Clean San Diego partnered together to start a new project called Trash Trackers. One year later, the results are in!

Trash Trackers began as a program to document our impact on the environment, and see how cleanups help in the long run. During the study, volunteers counted each piece of trash within a one-hundred foot stretch next to a local stream or creek. They cleaned the entire area and documented how many pieces, and what types, of trash they found. One year later, volunteers combed the same one-hundred foot stretch in order to find out how much more trash had accumulated within that time period due to either upstream accumulation or littering directly on site.

Thousands of Styrofoam pieces along the Otay River

So what did we find?

Each of our four sites – Otay River, San Diego River, Buena Vista Creek, and Chollas Creek – showed drastic decreases in the number of items found at the second cleanup. Whereas Otay River showed a 14.5% decrease, the San Diego River showed 63% less, Buena Vista Creek showed 68% less and Chollas Creek documented an amazing 74% less!

One area of Chollas Creek before cleanup

Even the biohazardous material was down an average of 27% at all of the sites.

Thanks to 700 volunteers over the last two years, this program removed 18,400 pounds of debris that otherwise may have ended up in our oceans. By removing this trash every year, we have direct evidence that our cleanup events not only remove debris from the immediate site, but they also help to ensure that in the future, the creeks are cleaner for everyone’s enjoyment.

"The Pit" along the San Diego River by Fashion Valley Mall

Here at I Love A Clean San Diego, we are dedicated to keeping our community clean! The implementation of the Trash Trackers program allows us to collect hard data that reveal the problems that ensue from littering in waterways. We hope that our actions and the photos above inspire individuals to take responsibly for their local environment and get involved in in preventing litter around our community. After all, don’t we all love a clean San Diego?