REGION – Roughly 800 volunteers across San Diego County took to their neighborhoods and local parks, beaches and trails on Saturday, June 20 to participate in I Love a Clean San Diego (ILACSD)’s Creek to Bay Cleanup, but this year’s event looked a little different.
Under normal circumstances, a Creek to Bay Cleanup event, typically held in April, would include around 6,000 volunteers at more than 100 designated sites throughout the county.
As cases of COVID-19 continue to climb, however, I Love a Clean San Diego, one of San Diego’s leading environmental organizations, faced the decision to either cancel the long-running event or adapt to the circumstances.
“We found this as an opportunity to do something different and engage in a different way,” said Lauren Short, community programs manager. “We pushed the education component. With this virtual option, people are able to learn more and be more engaged because they’re able to be on the platforms that we’re providing.”
To join the initiative, volunteers were encouraged to register for the event online where they were given instructions and COVID-19 safety guidelines. On the day of, they could tune into ILACSD’s Facebook live kickoff event before going out into their neighborhoods or local beaches with their friends and family to clean up.
Volunteers would then check in to the website with their location, amount of hours volunteered, how many pounds of trash/recyclables were picked up and any photos that they wished to share.
An interactive map on the event’s website shows that volunteers collected almost 6,000 pounds of debris that day in cleanup locations all over San Diego County.
“The feedback feels more positive than it ever has, I think people really were looking for a way to get involved and engaged,” Short said. “I think they saw the opportunity as we did, as a chance to still do something no matter how restrictive certain circumstances can be. They were still able to be active in their community and learn more about their direct impact to their own community.”
Short said that, though they had less volunteers than they typically would, this turned out to be a unique opportunity where going virtual ended up becoming a way to educate more people.
ILACSD is providing free online workshops and webinars on their website to continue to educate people about practices and principles that promote sustainability.