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Event teaches year round recycling

OCEANSIDE — As a local kick off for California Costal Cleanup Day, a new recycling container was dedicated at Buccaneer Beach Sept. 17. The recycling can lets beachgoers recycle glass, plastic and paper waste. The new can was sponsored by Girl Scout Troop 1340. The troop sold cookies to raise funds that the city matched to install the recycling container at the popular beach site.
Girl scouts took on the community service project to earn their bronze award. They must also put in 15 additional hours of hands on recycling or promoting recycling efforts to earn their award.
Some scouts have shot environment awareness videos, appeared in recycling public broadcast commercials and helped organize the day’s recycling event as part of their community service hours.
City staff worked closely with the troop to plan the cleanup day at Buccaneer Beach. A citywide goal was also set to provide more beachside recycling cans.
The city is actively seeking additional sponsors so it can install 90 recycling containers along the 7-mile stretch of Oceanside beaches and harbor. The plan is to match a recycling container to every trash can along the Oceanside coast within two years.
“We have 100 trash containers along the strand and harbor and 15 recycling containers,” Colleen Foster, management analyst of the solid waste and recycling division of the Water Utilities Department, said.
Cal Recycle grant funds will allow the city to match business sponsorships to install additional recycling cans. Between $25,000 and $50,000 in Cal Recycle grant funds are available annually to promote local recycling of bottles and cans.
Additional recycling containers will also expand the trash collecting capacity at beaches. Recyclable materials will have a designated receptacle and there will be more room for nonrecyclable trash in the standard trash cans.
“It’s a way for people to dispose of recyclables properly,” Foster said. “On a busy day there are a lot of full trash cans. What’s important is items get recycled. The economic benefit is saving resources. It costs more money to send material to landfills.”
Adding more public recycling containers is a positive step toward the city’s zero waste goal of diverting 75 percent of city trash from landfills by 2020.
Recycling and environmental awareness were focused on during the beach cleanup. In addition to cleanup efforts at Buccaneer Beach two other Oceanside beaches and three sites along the San Luis Rey River were cleaned up as part of California Costal Cleanup Day.
More than 600 volunteers came out to help. Many of the volunteers were middle school and high school students putting in community service hours by helping cleanup local waterways.
To cut down on generated waste participants were asked to bring their own buckets and reusable gloves.
Volunteers at beach sites primarily picked up cigarette butts and small pieces of plastic. A lot of the small trash is washed downstream to beaches.
“People are picking up small pieces, but it’s still really important,” Cynthia Mallett, environmental specialist for Oceanside, said. “Animals confuse the trash as food. We found 3,000 cigarette butts alone.”
Those cleaning up along the river found larger items like shopping carts and occasionally a piece of disguarded furniture. Citywide curbside trash pickup of bulky items has decreased the number of large trash items found in local waterways.
“The last few years we’re seeing less bulky items like appliances and mattresses,” Mallett said. “We use to get those things out of there all the time. We still get a lot of shopping carts, blankets and miscellaneous items.”
In general waterways are staying cleaner since environmental awareness and cleanup campaigns began in the 1970s. About 500 pounds of trash is removed in the annual Oceanside cleanup.