Beach Cleanup

San Diego Travel Blog

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The Port of San Diego provided a couple trucks to haul off the trash.
Ok, this is barely travel related... but it's pretty fun and it might even be something you can do on a trip, especially if you're with a group, even if it's just a few people.

During the winter rains wash trash into storm drains, creeks, then rivers, then finally into the ocean. Other trash is dumped from ships or just left on the beach. Pretty much anything that floats ends up washed up on the shore. It was getting pretty bad for a while, but much better lately... Have people stopped dumping in the ocean?? No... beach cleanups are getting more popular.

It's really making a big difference. Going back to the same spots, you see less and less accumulated trash each year. This year, pickings were actually pretty slim - which is good!

This one was actually part of a big county-wide "Beach Cleanup Day".
Patrolling the shoreline...
We gathered up some people from work, got a couple other companies we work with to throw in some people, and covered about a mile of shoreline one morning down at the south end of San Diego Bay. With gloves and trash bags we descended on the shoreline and saltmarsh and picked up anything that shouldn't be there. It's pretty fun, pretty much just beachcombing, but you comb everything!

Here's how the thing works, if you want to do one locally. If you live in a big city like San Diego, there are probably a lot of organizations that coordinate the cleanups. I mean here, someone generally knows what areas were cleaned up and when, so you just have to find a convenient day to go. Otherwise, you just need to round up some people and find a way to dispose of the trash.
This 200-pound piece of foam and concrete was a big pain
Finding people is usually pretty easy, getting rid of the trash isn't. The best way is to find a local agency or company that will provide some really big dumpsters or trucks and will pay the disposal fees. Try the local Port District, "City Services" or whoever runs the local landfill, any agency associated with water, your local politician who wants to take credit for inventing it... You may need to have volunteers sign some liability form, saying that they won't sue the agency sponsoring it. You can "sell" it by explaining how much free labor they're going to get compared to their cost of providing the trash hauling.

Provide some safety measures - you really need gloves and decent shoes, make sure people know not to pick up medical waste, jellyfish, anything dead or unhealthful, toxic waste, landmines.
Lost bear
.. whatever might be dangerous in your area. Be prepared for a LOT of trash. It might not look like much, but you generally end up with an enormous amount of material to haul away. Someone should pre-walk the area to estimate how big a container or truck it'll take to haul it all.

Some of the top items were probably:

*Cigarette butts- they pretty much never go away, and wash from roads and parking lots into storm drains and creeks really easily. Even the bottom of the ocean is covered here when you scuba dive! We collected several thousand in a couple hours.

*Plastic shopping bags- thousands of them. They blow in the wind, wash downstream, and end up in the ocean. They're pretty dangerous for wildlife, things get tangled up in them, sea turtles eat them, or little creatures get inside and can't escape.
Spreading out to cover our mile of shoreline


*Plastic water bottles. Thousands of them! They float forever, especially if the lids are on. There are big bottle drifts along the shore, bigger bottle drifts out in the ocean.

*Plastic water bottle and soda bottle lids - way more than there are bottles. I think people toss the lids even if they take care of the bottles.

*Shoes! I don't know why, but there are always a whole lot of shoes, flip-flops, and assorted footware. Maybe because they float?

At the end we had a contest for the "Best Find of the Day". That turned out to be the best indication that the program is actually working. Each year, the Best Find entries get more and more sparse. The first time of course you have 50 years of junk to choose from. Each year after that, it's just what has washed in that year, and eventually more and more is picked up so you have just items dumped that year. People brought their kids and they really loved it. Like a bunch of ants running around gathering things up, amazed at every new sea creature or object they come across! Had to drag them off the beach at the end.



Jelly says:
it's amazing/disgusting what you find washed up on the beaches... great job cleaning up!! :-)
Posted on: Jan 06, 2008
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The Port of San Diego provided a c…
The Port of San Diego provided a …
Patrolling the shoreline...
Patrolling the shoreline...
This 200-pound piece of foam and c…
This 200-pound piece of foam and …
Lost bear
Lost bear
Spreading out to cover our mile of…
Spreading out to cover our mile o…
Stingray circles in the warm shall…
Stingray circles in the warm shal…
Me in the saltmarsh
Me in the saltmarsh
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Checking out the stingrays - they…
A huge truck tire.  We almost left…
A huge truck tire. We almost lef…
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Someone's filled it with concrete…
Gathering trash
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"Best Find of the Day" contest. …
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Grill'n Sponge Bob was the best f…
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photo by: Sunflower300