ILACSD Kicks Off America Recycles Day Campaign!

Today’s blog comes from our Hotline Program Assistant, Barbara and Hotline Manager, Amanda! Our hotline team is gearing up for America Recycles Day and they want to make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest and greatest tips for waste reduction, while having a little fun! Read more below about what you can look forward to leading up to America Recycles day.

America Recycles Day is the nation's one and only day dedicated solely to recycling, so get ready for 1 month of recycling tips and tricks from ILACSD to get you geared up for the BIG DAY!

America Recycles Day is the nation’s one and only day dedicated solely to recycling, so get ready for 1 month of recycling tips and tricks from ILACSD to get you geared up for the BIG DAY!

Mark your calendar for America Recycles Day on November 15th! This year marks the 7th Annual America Recycles Day- the only nationally-recognized day to celebrate our waste reduction milestones and to share ideas with one another. The goal of America Recycles Day, an initiative of Keep America Beautiful, is to inspire communities to recycle more and correctly all year long. On that note, starting today, I Love A Clean San Diego kicks off its own America Recycles Day campaign! From now until November 15th, ILACSD will share with you tips and tricks to help minimize your impact on local landfills!

sorted recycling

Thankfully, in SD most recyclable items can commingle in one bin! Paper, rigid plastics, glass, aluminum, and cartons.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to receive our helpful tips. You can look forward to posts about -

  • #DIY upcycling tips – give old items a second life!
  • #TransformationTuesday
  • Recycling humor – yes, it does exist!
  • Tips for hard to recycle items

I Love A Clean San Diego started as an organization to combat San Diego’s litter problem, and has quickly evolved to address residents’ recycling needs, as well. ILACSD first started its recycling hotline in 1972, focusing on keeping thousands of Christmas trees out of landfills. Today, we continue to run our one-stop recycling resource,, and our newest addition,!

Christmas Tree Recycling, 1972

Challenges in finding out where to recycle Christmas trees spurred ILACSD to start a recycling hotline in 1972…more than 40 years later, it’s still going strong. Give us a call today, 1-800-237-BLUE!

As San Diego moves towards a 75% diversion rate by 2020 and a zero waste goal by 2040, we are dedicated to be your go-to resource to help reach these goals. Although this may appear to be a lofty goal, ILACSD is here to help inform fellow San Diegans and ultimately, keep valuable resources out of local landfills.

More than 51,000 Americans have already taken the America Recycles Day pledge on Keep America Beautiful’s webpage. By taking it, you pledge to learn more about the materials that can be recycled, reduce your waste by recycling, and encourage others to do the same. Click here to take the pledge today!

For more information on all of your recycling, reuse, and repair needs, visit and!


When in DROUGHT, turn to us!

Today’s blog is a collaboration with ILACSD and our friends that the San Diego County Water Authority. With a serious drought on our hands, it is up to all of us to take immediate action to reduce our use and save our stored water reserves for 2015. Read on to learn more about what we do to fight the drought, and go to to learn more!

Recently, we asked ILACSD staff members about how they fight the drought. Here are some of our favorite responses:

Save 5 gallons of water every time you brush!

Save 5 gallons of water every time you brush just by turning off the faucet!

  • Ann, ILACSD Director of Finance, puts a bucket under her bathtub faucet to collect the cold water as she waits for the shower water to heat up. Then she uses that to water her plants.
  • Sarah, our Marketing Coordinator, waters her plants with left over, day-old drinking water.
  • Natalie, Director of Community Events, has a wireless speaker in her bathroom and uses Pandora to time her showers.
  • Monica, ILACSD Environmental Educator, turns off the tap while brushing your teeth. Millions of people doing even the little things makes a difference!
  • Morgan, Director of Development & Marketing, and Ann have both recently replaced their lawns with native plants and rocks!
Before & after shots of Morgan's water-friendly yard!

Before & after shots of Morgan’s water-friendly yard!

There are also some mandatory water-saving restrictions in effect across the region. Requirements vary by local water agency, but they include:

When in Drought, visit!

When in Drought, visit!

• Limit outdoor watering days and times.
Water only during the late evening or early morning hours.
• Eliminate runoff from irrigation systems.
Repair all leaks within 72 hours.
• Turn off water fountains and other water features unless they recycle water.
Use hoses with shut-off valves for washing cars (or patronizing commercial car washes that re-circulate water).
• If you do not plan to drink water with your meal at a restaurant, please remind the waitstaff not to bring water to the table.
If you stay at a hotel, request the option of not laundering towels and linens daily.
• Use recycled or non-potable water for construction when available.

The Water Authority is not anticipating cutbacks to its imported water supplies this year that would trigger mandatory supply cutbacks to its member agencies. Allocations could happen in 2015 if conditions don’t improve, but regional investments in water supply reliability such as independent Colorado River water transfers and the Carlsbad Desalination Project will help offset the impacts of any supply reductions.

For more details about the drought, including links to water-use rules and conservation programs in your community, go to The webpage also includes a link to the Water Authority’s online conservation portal, which offers numerous water-saving incentives, free water-use evaluations, classes on WaterSmart landscaping and a home water-use calculator.

Ditch the Disposable Lifestyle Part II: California Bag Ban

Monica headshotThis week’s blog comes from Monica, an ILACSD Environmental Educator! You may remember her last blog, Ditch the Disposable Lifestyle: Choose Reusables, where she provided us with many useful tips to help reduce our waste, including using reusable bags. Now that SB 270, also known as California Bag Ban, has been signed into law, Monica is here to share helpful tips to make reusable bags a part of your daily routine! 


Some Background: In late September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 270, making California the first and only state in the country with a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. While some applaud the effort, others are frustrated with it. However, unless an appeal is successful, come July 1, 2015, single-use plastic bags will no longer be available at your favorite grocery store or pharmacy.

Grocery stores will continue to carry paper bags for 10 cent each and plastic produce bags will still be available, which many people reuse to dispose of pet waste. Regardless of your position on this issue, our staff can assure you that the transition to a plastic bag free state will be easy, with a little practice.

Here are my top 6 tips to help get you in the habit well before July 2015 when the ban goes into effect. 

Bag Ban tips from Monica!

This bag is machine washable and made in the USA!

1. Hold off on buying a lot of new reusable bags.

  • Look around your house, in the closets, under the kitchen sink, under the bed. It’s likely that you already have reusable bags, or the materials to make your own!

2. I don’t have any bags. Which ones should I buy? Quality is important. You want to buy a bag that will last you a long time. Think years!

  • Materials: Cotton cloth bags are my favorite. They can hold a lot of weight and they’re machine washable. I’ve had one of my cloth bags since 2010 and still use it all the time!
  • Close the loop! Look for bags made from recycled materials.
  • Carbon footprint. American made bags would be great! You’ll be supporting American business and know that those bags traveled less to get to you and thus consumed less resources.
Director of Education, Sam, returning to the ILACSD office with her reusable bag!

Here’s Sam, our Director of Education, coming back from the store with one of our reusable bags.

3. Getting into the habit can be hard. Give it a few weeks, before you know it, you’ll never forget your bag. Here’s what helped me get into the habit:

  • Keep your bags somewhere handy & always in the same spot to save time.
  • Keep a couple in your car. Lots of us make impromptu stops to the store.
  • At ILACSD, we keep our shared reusable bags in the same spot. When one of us takes a trip to the nearby Vons or Trader Joe’s, we know exactly where to grab one.


4. Oh no, it happened, again! You’re about to pay for your groceries and realize you forgot your bags!

  • If I’m only buying a few things I’ll refuse the bag. “No thank you, I don’t need a bag”. I say that all the time, I don’t mind carrying a couple of items in my arms, or maybe I can fit them into my purse.
  • Take a tip from Costco, ask for a box! If they don’t have boxes, I’ll put bulky items in my cart, without a bag, transfer them to my trunk, and the whole shopping experience is bag-less. I lived in Suwon, South Korea for a year, where they banned plastic bags, and this is what a lot of people did. Try to maximize and get only the bags you need for smaller items.
Help prevent plastic pollution - choose reusables!

On a 30 minute walk with my dog at Discovery Park in Chula Vista (an adoptable canyon), I picked up 6 plastic bags!

5. Keep in mind WHY you’re doing this. For some of us, the motivation may be to save the 10 cents per paper bag, but every time we choose reusables, that means there are fewer plastic bags to pollute our watersheds and occupy the limited space in our landfills.

I know the few extra efforts I put into using my reusable bags and refusing disposable bags are worth it because I’m not contributing to pollution. When it rains, littered plastic bags flow into storm drains and eventually to the ocean. Many marine animals, like sea turtles, get entangled in the bags or eat them because they mistake them for food. Keeping this is mind motivates me to continue refusing single-use bags!

6. Have fun with it! Reusable bags give you a chance to show your personality, and can be just another accessory that allows you to make a statement. Just try not to make this statement:

Although for some it will take time to adopt the reusable bag habit, our small efforts are bound to make a significant, positive impact on our environment.

Bag Ban tips from Monica!

Choosing reusable bags over single-use plastic bags is an easy choice!

What the heck is going on in the TJ River Valley?

MJB-2010-photoshop-picToday’s blog post comes from ILACSD’s Director of Development & Marketing, Morgan, who likes to take any and all of her out-of-town guests down to Borderfield State Park and the Tijuana River Valley for a private tour of one of San Diego’s little known gems!

Someone recently asked me, “what the heck is going on in the Tijuana River Valley that could warrant 4 weeks straight of cleanups and restoration events?” Well, I’m here to share with you the good news, and the bad news, about the Tijuana River Valley region.

The Tijuana River is a 120 mile waterway that originates in Baja California, northeast of Ensenada and flows through Tijuana. On its way to the Pacific Ocean, the River crosses the US-Mexico border near San Ysidro and its mouth is just south of the City of Imperial Beach, just a few miles north of the border.  In Tijuana, the river is more like a concrete canal filled with trash, sewage and homeless migrants. Last year, NPR aired a story focusing on the hundreds of homeless who live in the Tijuana River channel. While there are seemingly insurmountable political, economic and social issues surrounding the border region, a group of San Diego and Tijuana-based nonprofits have come together to tackle the pollution problem. This group, jointly referred to as the Tijuana River Action Network, works on both sides of the border to prevent pollution, teach more sustainable building techniques and hold governments accountable for improvements in sewage infrastructure.

Tijuana River Valley

A great shot of the Tijuana River Valley! Photo Credit: WiLDCOAST

So where does I Love A Clean San Diego fit in? Well, each year for the past few years, our annual Coastal Cleanup Day kicks off the month of cleanup activities called Tijuana River Action Month. In fact, Coastal Cleanup Day involves close to 20 cleanup sites in the shared Tijuana River Watershed. While most of them are in Mexico, they do include Borderfield State Park, Tijuana River Valley – Dairymart Road, and the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden, all on the U.S. side of the border. This year alone, nearly 50,000 pounds of debris was collected from these sites at Coastal Cleanup Day!

Sign up for Tijuana River Action Month today!With Coastal Cleanup Day behind us, we can now look forward to a handful of other great events in the shared watershed that are meant to restore the environment and teach participants of the valuable resource we have in the TJ River Valley.

Saturday, October 4th, 9am – 12noon

Join ILACSD & Wildcoast for a cleanup along Effie May Trail in the TJ River Valley. Help us to dig out tires and other trash that has been covered by sediment. You’ll be shocked and probably dismayed at the sheer amount of trash – especially tires, plastic and Styrofoam that is collected at a single cleanup. To sign up for this cleanup, contact Lexi Ambrogi at or 619-704-2778.

TRAM is great for the whole family!

TRAM is great for the whole family!

Saturday, October 11th, 9am – 12noon

Join Surfrider’s No BS campaign volunteers & Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR) staff for a cleanup at Goat Canyon in the TJ River Valley. Additional projects on October 11th include building benches out of trash with 4 Walls International and erecting a mural created by local students with the help of A Reason to Survive. At 12noon, you can get a sneak peek into the rarely opened Friendship Park to participate in a bi-national planting and ceremonial butterfly release. To sign up for this cleanup, visit the Tijuana River Action Month website.

Saturday, October 11th, 12noon – 2pm

If you had any involvement in this year’s Tijuana River Action Month, join us for the annual Volunteer Appreciation Party! Free food, craft beer, and a raffle for all sorts of great prizes. Plus, an opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the elected officials that represent the border region. We hope to see you there!

Our dedicated volunteers make our work possible!

Fun Awaits at ILACSD’s Fall Social

Today’s post comes from I Love A Clean San Diego’s Director of Development MJB_beer& Marketing, Morgan Justice Black. She loves craft beer and a good party, and is in charge of coordinating our Fall Social!.It’s going to be an event to remember! 



What if I told you that for just $25 you could enjoy an afternoon of craft beer, food, games and getting to know other eco-minded San Diegans? Seems too good to be true, right? Well, it’s all happening on Saturday November 8th from 2pm – 5pm as I Love A Clean San Diego hosts its Fall Social fundraiser.

Building upon the success of last year’s Summer Social, ILACSD is teaming up with Karl Strauss Tasting Room & Beer Garden for an afternoon of fun to benefit our pollution prevention programs countywide. If you haven’t been to the Karl Strauss Tasting Room yet, you’re in for a treat!

With a rotating selection of more than 20 beers on tap, there are always new brews to enjoy!

With a rotating selection of more than 20 beers on tap, there are always new brews to enjoy!


Their expansive tasting room includes windows to give guests a sneak peek into the brewery operations, including the bottling line and the beer lab. Plus, they have a big outdoor space with games galore. Whether you are a board game aficionado, or prefer to try your luck with a game of corn hole or ladder ball, the Fall Social will give you the opportunity for some friendly competition among guests.

Pony up to the bar and sample one of their delicious brews. Staff favorites include: Red Trolley Ale, Oktoberfest and NZ Pacifica Session IPA.

Pony up to the bar and sample one of their delicious brews. Staff favorites include: Red Trolley Ale, Oktoberfest and NZ Pacifica Session IPA.


Back by popular demand, ILACSD’s growler toss! Think ring toss at the fair, but the ring has to land around the neck of a growler. If you participate, you could win a free growler complete with a fill up! Bring your keen wit for board games, your precision for ladder ball, corn hole and growler toss, and your wallet for our silent auction and raffle! All adult guests should also bring their photo ID to purchase additional beers.


It's not an ILACSD fundraiser without a great silent auction & raffle, so don't forget your wallet!

It’s not an ILACSD fundraiser without a great silent auction & raffle, so don’t forget your wallet!

But first, you need tickets! Adults are $25 and kids get in for FREE. Aside from admission, your ticket gets you your first pint, food, and a commemorative pint glass so that you can reminisce about the great time you had at ILACSD’s Fall Social all year round!

Buy your tickets today!

Ditch the Disposable Lifestyle: Choose Reusables

Today’s blog comes from one of our environmental educators, Monica! Each and every day she integrates reusable items into her daily routine in efforts to reduce the waste she generates. In this blog, Monica provides great Eco Tips and clearly shows how you, too, can ditch the disposable lifestyle!


That’s me drinking water at the I Love A Clean San Diego office. Reusable cup and reusable straw: Check!

As an environmental educator at ILACSD, I constantly talk about the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  As many of you know, these Rs are not in random order; the most important one comes first, REDUCE.

I was shocked to hear about the amount of trash the average San Diegan produces in a day. How much, you ask? On average, each person produces 5.5 lbs of trash per day. That’s over 2,000 lbs of trash per person per year! Last year, I decided to do something about this. I increased the amount of REUSEables in my life and have REDUCEd my waste by 75%.

This is how I do it:

Morning Coffee

Stopped to buy some refreshing iced coffee in my reusable cup.

6 am – Morning Coffee

Like most people, I need to drink coffee every morning. Just like I’ve become dependent on caffeine, I’m dependent on my reusable coffee tumbler.

Eco Tip:

- If you have time to sit down and enjoy your coffee at your favorite coffee shop, ask for a real mug.

12 pm – Lunch time

On most days, I make my lunch at home and bring it to the office. My lunch contents change from day to day but one thing that stays the same is that I always make sure to use reusables. Disposable silverware and zip lock baggies? No thank you!

Reusable lunch items

Typical lunch bag contents.

These are my lunch bag contents:
– Reusable Pyrex container holding my home-made enchiladas.

- 2 tangerines in their own compostable peel.

- Reusable bamboo utensils

- Reusable water bottle

Eco Tip:

Attention Parents: If your children only eat their fruit if it is pre- peeled or sliced, place the prepped fruit in a reusable container instead of a disposable, non-recyclable bag.

Reusable waterbottle

I brought my Life Factory reusable water bottle on a hike. Remember to stay hydrated!

6 pm – After work work-out

Whether I go to yoga class, on a hike, or a walk, I always make sure to bring my reusable water bottle. Did you know that Americans throw out 50 billion plastic bottles every year?! The solution is pretty simple, REUSE!

7 pm – Evening Grocery shopping

If I’m running low on groceries I’ll make a quick stop at one of my neighborhood stores or the farmer’s market. I usually plan ahead and have my reusable bags with me but I also make sure to leave some in my trunk for those unplanned trips to the store.

To further reduce my waste, I choose products based on packaging. The more packaging they have, the less likely I am to buy it, and I especially love buying from the bulk bins.

Reuseable bag for bulk items

I use my smaller reusable bags to purchase chocolates from Sprout’s bulk bins!

Eco Tip:

- Buy in bulk! If you use a jar or plastic container, have a cashier weigh it beforehand, some containers already have the weight on them!

There are so many things you can buy in bulk: coffee, pasta, chocolates, beans, flour, lentils, rice, oatmeal, trail mix, and nuts are just a few of the options. The OB People’s Organic Food Market, Sprouts, North Gate Market, North Park Produce, and Whole Foods all have a wide variety of bulk food items.

I also use my reusable produce bags when I buy produce. If the produce has a hard peel, I go without a bag completely.

You can buy reusable produce bags online, or DIY!

This is how I bundle my produce. Some items are placed loosely in my cart and other items are in bags. Do what works best for you!

These are just a few of the ways I choose to reuse every day. It’s all about rethinking and making conscious choices that better our environment. It can be a little hard at first, but before you know it, it becomes part of your daily routine!



Pledge to B.Y.O reusables to the 30th annual Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 20th! Last year, 68% of volunteers pledged to bring at least one reusable item: work gloves, water bottle, and bucket. Sign up today!





4 Ways to Add Fun to Your Next Cleanup!

Today’s blog comes one of our interns, Christian! Christian spent his summer with us learning about the ins and outs of an environmental non-profit. For this blog, we asked Christian to take a quick stroll through Liberty Station where our office is located. You’ll be surprised by what he discovered along the way.

During my fifteen minute walk around Liberty Station, I found 3 plastic spoons, 24 cigarette butts, 4 plastic wrappers, and a plastic bowl still filled with ice cream.  If I found this on a short fifteen minute walk, imagine what you could find in your neighborhood.

It may seem tedious to pick up litter, but who says that it has to be boring?

Here are 4 ways you can add an element of fun to your next cleanup!

Mary Poppins“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP! – the job’s a game!”- Mary Poppins

Make a game – Add a basketball hoop to trashcan. Shoot for that three-pointer and remember to always get the rebound!  This is a great way to encourage kids to throw away trash for the fun of it, too.

Trash-ure Hunt – Make a treasure hunt for you or a group of people where they have to find like: 5 candy wrappers, 5 plastic items (such as water bottles or bags), 10 cans or glasses, 1 spoon and fork, a plastic plate to go with it, etc.

treatGive yourself a reward – For every piece of trash you throw away, give yourself 5 points and once you reach 100 points you can treat yourself!  This would be a great way to motivate you to throw away your trash as well as litter.

Trash Bucket Challenge – Looking for an alternative to the ALS ice bucket challenge? Grab a reusable bucket and participate in the Trash Bucket Challenge! Take 15 – 20 minutes and once you’ve filled your bucket, take it to a local trash or recycling bin – it’s that easy! Don’t forget to nominate your friends to do that same.

If you don’t have a bucket or reusable container, you can use a bag.

ILACSD is hosting a countywide trash bucket challenge on September 20th! Sign up for the 30th annual Coastal Cleanup Day here and remember to pledge to BYO reusables: bucket, work gloves and water bottle!

Save the Date


Lemon Grove Teachers Mentor Young Environmentalists

SONY DSCOur Marketing Coordinator, Sarah, had the opportunity to interview two more Coastal Cleanup site captains! Our site captains come from all walks of life, backgrounds, and expertise. Our first site captain spotlight focused on a City Heights family, Jody and Dennis. Today, we wish to highlight another dynamic duo – two teachers from Mount Miguel High School, James McFarland and Todd Linke.

James and Todd have been active environmentalists since they were students themselves. Now, as teachers at Mt. Miguel High School, they are in a position to pass on their knowledge and passion for the environment to the next generation of environmental advocates through the school’s Eco Club.

Over the past two years, Todd and James have helped broaden the reach and impact of the club. What started as a group that focused on recycling cans and bottles has grown to do so much more. Today, the Eco Club is an environmentally educated, student-led group dedicated to the protection and enhancement of their local environment.

MMHS Eco Club at Creek to Bay 2014

Mt. Miguel High School students at our 2014 Creek to Bay cleanup! (Todd, far right; James, center)

Todd further explained that, because of the club’s strong student leadership, students often help coordinate field trips, invite guest speakers, as well as participate in cleanups. Last spring, after they participated in ILACSD’s Creek to Bay cleanup, the students voiced an interest in Coastal Cleanup Day so Todd and James gladly signed up to be site captains! This will be their very first Coastal Cleanup Day!

“The students were so excited after they participated in Creek to Bay that we wanted to continue to provide similar opportunities.” – James

Both Todd and James strive to serve as role-models for their students and instill the value, “think globally, and act locally”. Through their participation in hands-on cleanup experiences, students, and potentially other community members, are provided with a better understanding of real issues that impact San Diego County. Such opportunities serve as a reminder that every action we take is important.

When asked, “What is your favorite part of our cleanups?” James noted that it engages like-minded individuals to come together for a common good – “from children to little old ladies”. Events such as CCD and Creek to Bay serve as a reminder that “you’re not alone in your efforts to protect the environment.” James mentioned that after each cleanup, his students often report that they “feel uplifted and full of hope.”

MMHS Eco Club students at our 2014 Creek to Bay Clean up

MMHS Eco Club students work together to remove debris from their neighborhood, including this large tire!

Eco Club member at ILACSD's Creek to Bay cleanup

Eco Club member lends a hand to keep her Lemon Grove neighborhood clean and beautiful!

Similarly, Todd mentioned that his favorite part is to witness a youth or a community member have their first “ah ha” moment; when they realize that they have made an immediate, positive impact in their community. During our interview, Todd reflected on the moment that a spark was lit inside of him – he was a sophomore in college planting trees. There was something about having his hands in the soil, acting locally, that even 20 years later he continues to remember that moment.

Although their site, Chollas Creek – Lemon Grove, isn’t a well-known cleanup site, James noted that there are pieces of nature that are easily missed. There are several nearby parks and canyons that commonly fill with street litter that has been carried away by the wind. Additionally, it is a residential area full of families and students who want to take pride in their neighborhood.

One challenge that many club members face is a lack of transportation which often hinders their ability to attend certain club activities. To help eliminate this barrier, James and Todd specifically selected a site that is in their neighborhood. If you are interested in joining James, Todd and the students of the Mt. Miguel High School Eco Club, please click here!

“It’s easy, fun and it makes an immediate impact that you can see and feel.” – Todd

MMHS Eco Club 2014

Todd and James (far left) and San Diego’s new generation of environmental stewards at Creek to Bay 2014!

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


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