REGION — In just three hours on Sept. 21, more than 6,500 volunteers cleared nearly 145,000 pounds (72,500 tons) of waste and debris from streets, canyons, parks and the coastline in communities across San Diego County for the 35th annual Coastal Cleanup Day, organized by the nonprofit I Love A Clean San Diego. The day’s environmental protection effort took place at 107 sites around the region and prevented the equivalent of 5,500 garbage trucks emptying their contents into the ocean.
For the 35th year in row, since Coastal Cleanup Day’s inception, plastic in all its forms remains the chief polluter collected throughout San Diego County today. From food wrappers to cups and water bottles to fast-food containers, single-use plastics were found across parking lots, public parks, within canyons and around schools.
Cigarette butts remain the most littered individual item. Many cigarette butts were discovered within feet of the water along the coast, trapped in gutters that flow to the ocean, and tossed near waterways in the inland communities. Cigarette butt filters are made of plastic, do not biodegrade and are full of harmful toxins that pollute the environment when left behind.
Among the debris collected were several notable odd items, including a reclining chair, refrigerator, wheelchair, plastic Christmas tree, messages in a bottle at Swami’s State Beach, rice cooker, restaurant pager and a guitar case.
Visit WasteFreeSD.org to learn more about how to recycle effectively to reduce contaminated materials from the blue bin. And see what waste goes to the landfill and use reusable items instead.
Volunteers included residents, corporate groups, and civic organizations who turned their appreciation for the region’s beauty into action by not only cleaning up waste, but also completing restoration projects such as painting, graffiti removal, non-native vegetation removal, mulching, trail restoration and weeding.