Modern Time Capsule: CCD Celebrates 30th Anniversary

SONY DSCToday’s blog comes from ILACSD’s Marketing Coordinator, Sarah!

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Coastal Cleanup Day (CCD) and we are proud to say that San Diego County has participated for the last 25+ years!  CCD is an event that is synonymous with community pride and environmental conservation throughout the world, evidenced by the fact that close to 100 countries participated in the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup

What started as a small-scale endeavor more than 25 years ago has now expanded to include 100+ cleanup sites, including a bi-national site, and 7,500 volunteers.  The event has succeeded in transforming the local environment and the minds of volunteers on the third Saturday of September each year. While there are many Coastal Cleanup Day events throughout the state of California, San Diego County strives to distinguish ourselves. Check out some of our most historic moments over the past 25 years!

Sep 1989 – ILACSD coordinates San Diego’s first ever Coastal Cleanup Day, the largest volunteer cleanup event of the year in support of the marine environment.

 CCD_1991_borderfield2Sep 1991 – ILACSD works to host California’s first, and only, bi-national Coastal Cleanup Day site, with volunteers cleaning up both sides of the US-Mexico border, where they are able to see and communicate with each other through the border fence.

Sep 1996 – San Diego ranks #2 in the state for the most participants and the largest amount of trash picked up from California beaches for ILACSD’s 8th annual Coastal Cleanup Day.

Sep 2004 – ILACSD partners with grassroots organization, Proyecto Fronterizo de Educacion Ambiental, to expand the reach of its bi-national cleanups.            

beach clean up FINAL 19About a decade ago, I Love A Clean San Diego was introduced to an energetic woman, Margarita Diaz, from Tijuana who wanted to expand the grassroots cleanups that she was doing in Playas de Tijuana into something bigger. The problem was she didn’t have the resources or training to make that happen. San Diego County coordinators recognized that San Diego and Tijuana share a watershed, so they decided to include Playas de Tijuana consistently into their regional coordination. We supplied our friends with bags, gloves and data cards, as well as training on how to recruit volunteers and organize a seamless cleanup event.

"The environment knows no borders..."Today, Margarita and her team at Proyecto Fronterizo de Educacion Ambiental need little guidance from their San Diego colleagues. In fact, their small scale effort has grown to more than 2,000 volunteers and two dozen cleanup sites along the Baja coast as well as farther east along the US-Mexico border. Through this unique bi-national partnership, Coastal Cleanup Day reinforces the message that the environment knows no borders, and it’s up to us to work collaboratively to prevent pollution and marine debris.

Natalie's first CCD!

Natalie’s first Coastal Cleanup Day in 2006.

Sep 2006 – ILACSD blasts through the 5,000 volunteer mark with 5,850 participants during California Coastal Cleanup Day.

Sep 2007 – Natalie’s very first Coastal Cleanup (second from the right) – Seven years later, she coordinates CCD as ILACSD’s Director of Community Events!

Sep 2009 – ILACSD’s annual Coastal Cleanup Day celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a record 10,283 volunteers in San Diego County. 

Sep 2014 – What will we have to say about the 30th Anniversary? Be a part of history, sign up today at!


Save the Date

Remember to pledge to bring your own (B.Y.O) reusables: work gloves, water bottle, and bucket to collect litter. Last year, 68% of volunteers pledged to bring at least one item. Every effort, no matter how small, makes a grand impact!

From Cereal Box to Time Machine…

Erika, Education CoordinatorOur Education Coordinator, Erika, is the author of our blog today! Read more below about how our educators helped children transform common items into expressions of creativity!




What ties cereal boxes, Trader Joes, the County of San Diego, I Love A Clean San Diego, and 32 elementary school students together? Our new reuse program, brought to you by the County of San Diego.

R1_Reuse_2014_noPR (3)Last month, my coworker, Monica, and I were taking our break at Trader Joe’s, and as we passed aisles of cookie butter and ginger snaps, we noticed an employee with a dolly-loaded with collapsed boxes. Most people wouldn’t think twice about cardboard boxes, but to an ILACSD educator, those recyclables have endless reuse possibilities. We started a conversation and found that after boxes are emptied, they are crushed and returned to the delivering company, along with pallets and plastic bags, to be recycled. Little did they know that these boxes can be reused prior to recycling! We explained our new reuse program – we educate students about the benefits of reuse and provide them with opportunities to create long lasting toys through objects that are often regarded as waste.  After our conversation, and with the store’s approval, Monica and I loaded our arms with our new treasures and trekked back to ILACSD headquarters.

While most of us are knowledgeable of the important role reuse plays in waste reduction, three common reuse items come to mind: bags, mugs, and water bottles. Fewer people realize that most products we use have the potential to have a second, third, or fourth life before they hit the iconic blue bin. Our goal is to change that one time use mindset and our reuse program does exactly that!

R1_Reuse_Lakeside_2014_noPR (12)_resizedThrough imagination and cardboard boxes, our reuse program encourages students to rethink the idea of waste.  In our first reuse program, students let their imagination run wild for almost two hours and they begged us to stay longer! We were blown away by the students’ creativity. Some of my favorite projects included, a stable, dollhouse, and time machine! Instead of buying a new toy or game, these students were completely captivated by their creations.

The next time you take a box or can to the recycle bin, I challenge you to try to create something new. The possibilities are endless!

Reuse graphic

If you’re interested in learning more about our environmental education presentations, please click here or email Erika directly at

Jody & Dennis: The Masterminds Behind Cooper Canyon

SONY DSCToday we wish to highlight Coastal Cleanup Day site captains, Dennis Wood and Jody Carey! Sarah, ILACSD’s Marketing Coordinator, interviewed Dennis to learn more about what inspires them to volunteer!



Jody, Dennis, and their son, Sam!

Jody, Dennis, and their son, Sam at CCD 2013

Jody and Dennis moved into their City Heights’ home near Cooper Canyon in 2004 and they soon found their niche in the community through participating in community beautification organizations – FaceLift and City Heights Canyons and Communities Alliance (CHCCA). It was through these organizations that they connected with and were inspired by community leader and longstanding ILACSD volunteer, Linda Pennington. Jody and Dennis participated in their very first Coastal Cleanup Day in 2005, became site captains in 2008 and have served every year since.


Cooper Canyon Cleanup (7)As business owners of Carey Construction and Design, Jody and Dennis bring with them not only a background in construction, but also a great deal of creativity. Dennis mentioned during his interview that his husband, Jody, is the visionary and each year they focus on one specific project. During the first couple of years, they focused on removing overgrown invasive plants (arundo and castor bean) – one year they even found an abandoned car among the overgrown plants!


After a few years of hard work to eliminate the overgrowth of invasive plants, Jody and Dennis are now able to focus on beautification and maintenance. They have added a defensible space against wildfires, new fencing, and more native plants!

City Council member and District 9 representative, Marti Emerald, stopped by to thank Jody and Dennis for all their hard work!

City Council member and District 9 representative, Marti Emerald, stopped by to thank Jody and Dennis for all their hard work!


Over the past 9 years, they have not only helped transform the physical appearance of Cooper Canyon, they have played a role in the transformation of the neighborhood’s culture. Dennis and Jody have witnessed neighbors that once were closed-off, now open their doors to their fellow neighbors. Additionally, new home buyers, as well as local political leaders, have taken a new-found interest in this neighborhood, because of the care and leadership that Jody, Dennis, and their cleanup teams have demonstrated.



When asked, “What is your favorite part of Coastal Cleanup Day?” Dennis shared these inspirational words:

“Seeing a light bulb switch on for youth – at the beginning of the day they seem skeptical, but by the end of the day they feel empowered.”


One youth in particular, has grown up in the neighborhood and has participated in multiple cleanups. Now, he brings his parents to cleanups and even leads groups of adults! Dennis mentioned that, “witnessing change across multiple generations is very powerful.”

If you are thinking of volunteering for the 30th anniversary Coastal Cleanup Day, please take these words from Dennis into consideration: “To be a pair of hands among 8,000 people is an incredible feeling and the reward is greater than you can imagine.”


Coastal Cleanup Day 2013 - Cooper Canyon

Please visit to register today!

In addition to their CCD site, Jody and Dennis are well-known for their participation in the impressive renovation of the Manzanita Gathering Place.

In addition to their CCD site, Jody and Dennis are well-known for their participation in the impressive renovation of the Manzanita Gathering Place.

Scoop the Poop: Alternatives to Plastic Bags

Bethany_croppedDuring our environmental education presentations, our educators receive a variety of thought provoking questions from youth. Today’s blog, comes from Bethany, one of our environmental educators, who was recently asked: “Isn’t it bad for our landfills for us to scoop the poop in a plastic bag and throw it away?” Thankfully, Bethany is here to fill you in on great alternatives to plastic bags for disposing of pet waste*.

It is beautiful to see students thinking critically about the information we share with them and seeking to go the extra mile to help the environment.  Not only should we be scooping the poop, but why not do it in the most environmentally-friendly way possible?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies[1].”

How can we scoop poop off the grass and into the toilet or trash without using plastic bags?  Here are a few ideas that will keep bacteria ridden pet waste out of our storm drains without adding plastic to our landfills:

  • Cadet Hands off Pet Waste RemoverPortable pooper scooper for walks


  • Rake and ShovelPooper scooper rake for the backyard
    • There are many rake and shovel options. You can buy one made especially for poop scooping, or you can just grab a rake or shovel from the shed.  If you’re going to flush the poop, save on flushes by collecting the poop in a small metal trashcan outside to be able to flush more waste at one time.
    • Four Paws Sanitary Pooper Scooper
    • Arm & Hammer Swivel Bin and Rake



  • Flush Puppies flushable bags
    • Flush PuppiesFlush Puppies are made from polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) – a water-soluble, eco-friendly, “green” alternative to plastic. Unlike plastic bags or other “biodegradable” bags, Flush Puppies actually break down in water.  Bag it, toss it in the toilet, and flush!


  • Newspaper
    • Take a few sheets of newspaper with you on your walk and use it to scoop the poop. You can flush the poop at home and toss the paper in the trash or simply toss both in the trash.  This does contribute paper to the landfill, but it is a more eco-friendly solution than throwing a plastic bag in the landfill. Please do not put pet waste in your green waste receptacle.


*”Pet waste” refers specifically to dog waste. Cat waste is not flush-able. 

Don’t be a sucker! Consider Reusable Straws

Monica_Program AssistantToday’s blog comes from one of our Program Assistants, Moriah! Many of us are knowledgeable about reusable items such as water bottles, but very few  know about sustainable straws. Thankfully, Moriah has done all the research about plastic vs. sustainable straws for you!

In the US, over 500 million plastic straws are used and thrown away daily. Imagine what 500 million plastic straws looks like. That amount of straws would fill over 127 school buses every day, and more than 46,400 school buses every year!

Although disposable straws are made of plastic, and theoretically recyclable, straws are too light weight to be recycled in San Diego’s recycling facilities. Instead of being recycled, straws end up in landfills or as litter. Litter in the streets eventually makes its way to our creeks, streams, beaches, and finally, the Pacific Ocean.  Plastic litter accounted for over 84% of all of the litter picked up during our cleanups last year. Specifically during last year’s Coastal Cleanup Day and Adopt-A-Beach Program, ILACSD volunteers picked up 5,334 straws.

ILACSD is here to help you kick your plastic straw habit!  The next time you come by our office (2508 Historic Decatur Rd., 92106) or attend one of our cleanup events, ask about our newest piece of merchandise: stainless steel reusable drinking straws!

ILACSD staff love their stainless steel straws!

Our staff doesn’t leave home, or the office, without their stainless steel straws!

The San Diego Safari Park and Zoo as well as Sea World have already done their part to reduce their plastic waste. You will not find single-use plastic lids or straws at either of these parks because they recognize how easy it is for wildlife to mistake litter for food – especially straws.

On a global scale, restaurants in SoHo, London have launched a campaign against single use plastic straws called “Straw Wars.” The “Straw Wars” campaign encourages patrons to refuse plastic straws and advocate for restaurants to either not give them out entirely or only upon request.


Our stainless steel straws are great conversational pieces and make great gifts! 2 for $5, 4 for $10 or 8 for $20

If you agree that plastic straws are a thing of the past, you can either carry your own reusable straw or you can simply not use a straw.  In addition to ILACSD’s stainless steel straws, there are a variety of online retailers that have stylish, easy to clean glass and stainless steel straws. Make the switch today!

Behind the Scenes of Goodwill’s Aftermarket Facility

Barbaraa_teamToday’s post comes from one of ILACSD’s program assistants and hotline managers, Barbara! Recently, Barbara and our Hotline Manager, Amanda, took a tour of Goodwill’s aftermarket facility in Otay Mesa. Here is what they took away from their experience!



Many of us head to the nearest Goodwill location to donate our unwanted items, but do you ever wonder what happens to your donations? Conveniently, we’re here to give you the play-by-play.

At the facility, Goodwill collects and sorts any donations that are not fit for resale or donations that have sat in one of the Goodwill stores for too long. Goodwill has an extensive sorting process for recycling items and to minimize the amount that makes its way to the landfill.

Goodwill Aftermarket tourThe first stop on the tour was the electronics testing and disassembly area. Here, Goodwill employees first check if a donated electronic item works. If it does, Goodwill will sell it at one of its San Diego stores. Any non-working electronics are collected and sent to a certified electronics recycler. Also, in this area Goodwill employees wipe all hard drives, although Goodwill recommends clearing any hard drives before donating.

Goodwill's aftermarket auction boxes.As we continued through the warehouse, we saw where clothing and household items are sorted. These items are considered difficult to sell at Goodwill stores and are bundled together in large boxes to be auctioned off in bulk. Auctions are held daily and the public is welcome to attend and participate – we witnessed one on our tour, too! After paying, auction winners go through their boxes and take with them what they’d like. Any unwanted items go through the aftermarket facility again and are resold through the auction boxes.

Goodwill aftermarket facilityThe last stop on the tour was the recycling area where Goodwill employees break down and sort any recyclable material. Although Goodwill does not accept car seats as donations, they are sometimes left at donation collection sites. Instead of just throwing them away, Goodwill removes any recyclable material, like the hard plastic base, and has that part recycled. It was great to see all of Goodwill’s efforts to keep valuable resources out of our local landfills.

For information on Goodwill donation sites or other recycling options, check out today and!

Go high tech to beat the heat, and help ILACSD!

When you’re rushing to get ready for work in the morning, how often do you run out of the house and forget to adjust the thermostat when you know no one will be home?

Or have you ever been at work already when SDG&E announces a Reduce Your Use alert, and you can’t get those savings because you won’t be home?

In this summer heat, wouldn’t it be great to come home to a nice cool house without having to run the air conditioning all day?

ThermostatNow you can! With SDG&E’s new Reduce Your Use Thermostat, you’ve got the freedom to adjust the temperature in your home whenever and wherever you are – right from your phone or mobile device. And until July 25th, there is an added incentive – you can get this new thermostat for free, and benefit ILACSD!

Not only can you control your new programmable thermostat remotely, on Reduce Your Use days, it can help you earn an even higher credit by allowing your air conditioner to cycle or be raised 4 degrees.

Here’s how it works:

  • To see if your home qualifies for this offer, visit and use the promo code ‘CleanSD’ between now and July 25th.
  • ILACSD earns $20 for each completed form using our promo code during the promotional period (Note: If you find out you aren’t eligible, you can still sign up for Reduce Your Use notifications and complete this short survey. ILACSD will receive $5!)
  • SDG&E will review your application and if you are approved, you will be contacted by a contractor who will install your new thermostat, and show you how to use it, at no cost to you!

Want to know more about the Reduce Your Use Thermostat? Check out SDG&E’s website for the full run down:

Requirements for the Reduce Your Use Thermostat:

  • Must be an SDG&E account holder in good standing.
  • Must be a homeowner (offer not available to renters at this time).
  • Must have a central air conditioning unit.
  • Must NOT be currently receiving the Medical Baseline discount.

Not eligible for the thermostat? Sign up for a Reduce Your Use notification to be eligible for bill credits for conservation on hot days. After you enroll, complete this quick questionnaire to be entered into a drawing to win a 3-pack of LED light bulbs.

Clean Beach Coalition hits the sand to celebrate summer with cleaner beaches!

Today’s post comes from our Director of Community Events, Natalie Roberts! natalie

In addition to the many cleanups ILACSD hosts each year, we also aim to prevent beach litter before it hits the sand through our annual Clean Beach Coalition program. Every summer, we partner with FreePB, City of San Diego Parks and Recreation, lifeguards, and police to make sure everyone has a safe, enjoyable, and clean day at the beach over popular holiday weekends.

You may have noticed the huge temporary trash and recycling bins if you were one of the many beachgoers that took advantage of the great weather over Memorial Day weekend and visited Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Mission Bay, or Pacific Beach.  The Clean Beach Coalition teams up to order and place hundreds of these bins so that there is a convenient place to get rid of your food wrapper, or to recycle your water bottle, while you are at the beach this summer.

The bins are purchased thanks to our generous sponsors, including Think Blue San Diego, PB Shoreclub, Typhoon Saloon, SeaWorld, Heller Foundation, Sandbar, Tavern, Rubios, Anheuser Busch, Vavi, Mission Beach Women’s Club, and Bar West.

photo 4

This year, we partnered with CA State Beaches in North County, as well as Urban Corps, Friends of Cardiff and Carlsbad State Beaches, and the Carlsbad Charitable Fund to place additional recycling and trash bins at North County beaches as well!


You can go one step further and join us in preventing trash by bringing your own reusable items to the beach.  Examples include investing in a permanent cooler that you can reuse over and over rather than the single use Styrofoam cooler, using Tupperware for your beach snacks to also prevent against seagulls, sand, and bugs, and a reusable water bottle.


Otherwise, be sure to look for and use the big trash and recycling bins over the 4th of July weekend!

What does a year’s worth of education presentations look like?

Today’s post comes from our Environmental Educator, Monica Rosquillas.



It’s been a very busy year in the ILACSD education department! Our 5 educators kept very busy travelling to schools all over the county presenting to thousands of students on issues ranging from waste reduction and water conservation to motor oil pollution prevention and watershed protection. Here’s a recap of our eventful year.


  • The education department delivered 572 educational presentations to 24,803 students!
  • We presented in all corners of the county, from San Ysidro High School to Fallbrook High School and from Jacumba Middle School to beautiful Warner Springs.
  • Our students ranged from enthusiastic kindergarteners to Adult English Language Learners eager to learn about San Diego’s environmental issues.
  • We returned to friendly campuses like Garfield High, Aviara Oaks Elementary, and Hillsdale High School. We also visited new locations like Mission Vista High, Eastlake High, and Diegueño Middle School.
  • Our busiest months were April and October, tied with 90 presentations each!

IMG_6633All of us in the education department love spreading the message of a clean San Diego, but student letters like the ones below, make it all the more worth it!

Dear Monica,

Thank you so much for coming to talk to us on Monday! It really impacted me and showed me how much the little things we can do to keep our water clean can have an effect on our land. Your presentation was really eye-opening and I’ll definitely be sure to pick up littler, and try to compost more! Thanks again!

8th Grade Science Student
Diegueño Middle School

Dear Miss Monica,

From your presentation I learned a lot about what happens when it rains. I have a new puppy and from your presentation I learned how important it is to clean up after her. Your speech also inspired me to help with beach and river cleanups around San Diego.

Thank you sooo much!

8th Grade Science Student
Diegueño Middle School


That’s a wrap on Kids’ Ocean Day 2014!

Today’s post comes from our Education Coordinator, Erika Bjorkquist.Erika-team

The 2014 Kid’s Ocean Day has come and gone I am even more impressed than last year. First, I have to hand it to our amazing educator, Monica, for creating such an amazing aerial art design. The throwback to our first mascot, Pelican Pete, celebrates the 60 years ILACSD has been working to educate and empower individuals to conserve the environment. Kudos!

Kids' Ocean Day 2014

Next, we had AMAZING volunteers! A big thanks to Brown and Caldwell, Enel Green Power, Kohl’s, National University, Prometheus Labs, Sony, Target, and Verint Systems Inc., and ILACSD Board Members for all of your help – we couldn’t have done it without ya’ll.

Lastly, thanks to the 791 students (61 first time beach goers), 33 teachers, and 78 chaperones, who decided to make a difference – your impact will have a lasting impression [that can be seen from the sky!].

Want to get involved? This program is funded by the California Coastal Commission’s Whale Tail Grant – next time you see someone driving with a whale tail license plate, give them a thumbs up, or even purchase one yourself! You could be providing an underprivileged student with their first opportunity to go to the beach.


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