Oceanside — What does a couch cushion, bike frame and a pair of hub caps have in common? They are all items collected at the 11th annual San Luis Rey River cleanup on Nov. 5.
More than 100 environmentally-conscious volunteers armed with buckets and gloves pitched in to pick up trash at four cleanup sites organized along four miles of the river and beach.
“Families with young children and teenage volunteers usually cleanup at the beach site,” Cynthia Mallett, environmental specialist for the Oceanside Clean Water Program, said. “Scout troops and Marines usually cleanup at the inland sites. They’re more challenging to get to.”
Volunteers from H2O Trash Patrol went out on paddleboards and kayaks to remove trash from the river.
Along the beach, cigarette butts and small pieces of Styrofoam were found.
On the riverbank, fast food bags, shopping carts and large discarded items were collected.
The morning cleanup removed 2,500 pounds of litter and made conditions healthier for animals and humans.
“Bacteria attaches to litter and the wet trash transfers down to the shoreline,” Mallett said. “Cleanups keep bacteria levels low and areas healthy for human access to waterways. That’s our goal.”
The cleanup also stops trash from moving out into the ocean where it affects marine life and eventually becomes part of the growing trash vortex.
Local beach cleanups have been held for the past 20 years. Cleanups along the San Luis Rey River, Loma Alta Creek and Buena Vista Creek have been held for more than 10 years.
While annual cleanups make big impacts, year round education on how to properly dispose of trash and recyclables is a key component in keeping waterways clean.
Mallett said trash that flies out of truck beds and cigarette butts tossed to the curb are still big litter problems.
Environmentalists sort, count and track where trash is found so they can make proper trash disposal easier for people. Trash studies help determine where to install trash cans and recycling bins and what education to provide. In some cases, litter is found just yards away from a trash can and all it takes to keep things clean is people holding onto trash or recyclables until they reach the next container.