Keeping Green with Jon Green: A C2B Site Captain Profile

Today we have a guest blog post from Creek to Bay site captain, Jon Green!  We interviewed Jon on the highlights of C2B, why he started captaining, and what the weirdest item was he found during a cleanup… 

Here's Jon out at a cleanup site

Here’s Jon out at a cleanup site


Creek to Bay is such a great event for Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) to participate in because it helps us achieve our goal of cleaning up Alpine’s creeks and streams that flow into the San Diego River.  The one-day, County-wide effort also helps BCLT and our volunteers here in Alpine to feel connected to the larger community throughout San Diego.  Without events like this, and the support of so many dedicated people, trash would just accumulate in our waterways, eventually finding it’s way to the ocean and coastline.  These types of community clean-up events are an inspiring way to “make the world a better place” by doing your own little part to help clean up the mess that would otherwise just be endlessly accumulating around us.

In 2013, Jon and his team cleaned up 5,000 pounds of trash from Alpine Creek

In 2013, Jon and his team cleaned up 5,000 pounds of trash from Alpine Creek

I was invited to participate in Creek to Bay in 2013 by ILACSD, and jumped at the opportunity to work in partnership with such a great non-profit partner in BCLT’s efforts to clean up and restore Alpine’s creeks and streams.  For over two years, BCLT has been cleaning up Alpine’s waterways that lead to the San Diego River through our watershed stewardship program.  Partnering with ILACSD for this event was just a natural fit for us to continue to engage the San Diego community in being good stewards of their watershed, and to enhance our impact in clearing trash and debris from our rivers. I’m proud to be a leader in this effort as a Creek to Bay Site Captain. It’s how I do my part to create positive change in the world.

Through our watershed stewardship program, BCLT is working with over 40 private landowners throughout Alpine to clear trash and restore habitat along Alpine’s waterways that flow into the San Diego River.  Volunteers who come out to participate in BCLT watershed events, like Creek to Bay, get the chance to see some beautiful creek-side riparian areas that would otherwise be completely unavailable to the public because these are mainly private residences.  The site we’ll be working on in 2014 for example is a 9-acre private property that stretches along Alpine Creek (at the intersection of Alpine Boulevard and Tavern Road).  Oak and sycamore provide a shady canopy for a park-like setting beneath the trees, where Alpine Creek flows through rocky stream-banks and open clearings, colored with wild grape leaves and California holly-berry, or Toyon.  Since this land is private property, this event will provide a unique opportunity for volunteers to see some of this amazing riparian habitat for themselves since BCLT is working in partnership with the landowner.

It’s inspiring to see so many people working together to keep San Diego’s waterways clean and beautiful. Events like these build a sense of place in our small foothill community that keeps us tied to a “bigger picture” within San Diego.  We may live “up the hill” here in Alpine, but everyone lives downstream from someone, and we are all truly connected by our waterways. This event is our annual “reminder” to the community that we all live in the same watershed.

Unfortunately, we find a lot of household waste dumped off the side of the road, probably because people would rather dump it illegally than pay fees for disposal at a waste facility (ed. note: learn how you can dispose of hazardous waste at  Some of the more unusual items we’ve found throughout our watershed clean-up efforts include: a stolen ATM machine; a safe with no door (and sadly, no money); gallons of used motor oil thrown off of the road shoulder; a bathtub; and weirdly, a bag full of goat skulls.  Unfortunately, we haven’t found anything really charismatic, mostly just disgusting trash that should not be anywhere near the creek.

Great job, team!!! Hope to see you all in 2014

Great job, team!!! Hope to see you all in 2014

In 2013, we pulled nearly 5,000 pounds of trash from Alpine Creek during the Creek to Bay event.  Alpine Creek is the single largest pollution source flowing into El Capitan Reservoir, which is the City of San Diego’s main surface water catchment for drinking water, municipal use, etc.  Any trash that we can remove from the creeks in Alpine, saves the taxpayers and agencies time and money from having to remove it and clean up the pollution later before that water reaches the tap in your kitchen sink.  If Creek to Bay volunteers want to work in a more natural, rural setting AND make a difference in the headwaters of the San Diego River, then this is their chance to help us clean up the creeks here in Alpine.

We also have some AMAZING places to explore after the event while volunteers are here in town, like BCLT’s own Wright’s Field Nature Preserve (open to the public for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding), and of course the Alpine Beer Company for lunch / dinner afterward!  Anyone willing to make the 30-minute drive to Alpine surely won’t be disappointed with the unparalleled natural scenery and local craft beer we have up here in the foothills.  Come on out to join us in cleaning up Alpine’s watershed during Creek to Bay, or any of our other BCLT events.


Thanks for all your help, Jon! You can join Jon in Alpine or any of our other 90+ inland and coastal cleanup sites. Learn more and register today!

You’re the best, Best Buy! Our new Adopt-A-Beach volunteers clean up Mission Bay

Today’s blog post comes from our fantastic Community Events intern, Rebecca!


We are happy to announce that the Best Buy in Mission Valley has joined the Adopt-A-Beach program at Mission Bay South Shores! California’s Adopt-A-Beach program gives people of all ages the opportunity to learn about and actively participate in conserving coastal resources.  The Adopt-A-Beach program is I Love A Clean San Diego’s most popular volunteer program.  A statewide program funded by the California Coastal Commission, ILACSD coordinates over 10,000 volunteers annually through the Adopt-A-Beach program.

Best Buy volunteers love getting out and cleaning up Mission Bay. Says sales associate Ivan Gonzalez, “I had a great time at our first beach cleanup event. It was a great feeling helping to make San Diego a beautiful place for everyone including our marine wildlife. I can’t wait for the next event!”

Best Buy employees out at an Adopt-A-Beach cleanup

Best Buy employees out at an Adopt-A-Beach cleanup

Joining the Adopt-A-Beach Program is another step forward in spreading the word about having a sustainable future. Best Buy is also committed to helping you recycle those used electronics piling up in your garage.  If your old electronics have no trade-in value Best Buy can recycle them for free! Visit to find out more electronic items Best Buy can recycle for free. Their certified third party partners break down recycled products into commodities. These commodities then get a second life when they are reused to create a new product.

Thanks to Best Buy in Mission Valley for joining our Adopt-A-Beach Program.  Are you interested in adopting your own beach or canyon?   Sign up today to adopt a site of your choice and conduct cleanups based on your schedule!  ILACSD provides all the supplies at no charge, and offers free educational presentations and sign recognition pending availability.


What’s What at the 2014 Creek to Bay Cleanup

Amy Millard-105_croppedToday’s post comes from I Love A Clean San Diego’s Director of Development & Marketing, Morgan Justice-Black, who will be attending her 8th Creek to Bay Cleanup on April 26, 2014! 


I remember my first Creek to Bay Cleanup, it was April 28th, 2007. We hosted our kick off site at Belmont Park in Mission Beach, and it was freezing! But, we still managed to bring out more than 200 volunteers at that site, and just over 3,000 volunteers countywide.

Coldest Creek to Bay Cleanup in memory!

Coldest Creek to Bay Cleanup in memory!

Fast forward to today and we are recruiting an impressive 6,000 volunteers each year, double that of just 7 years prior. A lot has changed about Creek to Bay over the year’s, but the constant has been the heart of San Diego residents who come out to lend a hand, despite rain or record high temperatures!


In just a few short weeks, I Love A Clean San Diego will be hosting its 12th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup. Here’s a cheat sheet of what you’re in store for you if you volunteer on April 26th at Creek to Bay. A few things that we have planned for this year’s cleanup include:


1. Currently there are 95 cleanup sites available for volunteers to participate in. This is more than ever before! Cleanup sites stretch from Oceanside to Imperial Beach and all the way out to Alpine! We’ve also got a number of incredible site captains who are leading these cleanup sites. Learn more about some of them as we feature them in upcoming blog posts. See them all online at


2. We are offering Scout patches for Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops who volunteer. Have you seen this year’s patch design? Here it is! Once the cleanup concludes, participants can go back onto our website, and request their patches.



3. The Bring Your Own Reusables campaign is back in full force, meaning that we want all of our volunteers to bring a few things to help reduce our waste at the cleanup. Please remember to bring: a plastic bucket or other container to collect trash in, work gloves or gardening gloves, and a canteen for refilling with water at the event. You may have heard that our Bring Your Own Reusables campaign, which we fondly refer to as “BYO”, received national recognition by Keep America Beautiful this winter. In case you need a visual reminder, here is what to bring:

Bring Your Own

Bring Your Own bucket, work gloves and reusable water bottle to Creek to Bay!

Here we are, accepting the Innovation Award from Keep America Beautiful!

Here we are, accepting the Innovation Award from Keep America Beautiful!


4. Our generous friends at Sony Electronics are once again sponsoring our Creek to Bay Photo Contest! This year’s theme…Be The Change! We are asking folks to snap a photo of themselves or their volunteer group changing our environment for the better at Creek to Bay. More information about the contest and submission guidelines are on our Creek to Bay contest page.

Here's last year's photo contest winner, Evan!

Here’s last year’s photo contest winner, Evan!


5. Just a month after our Creek to Bay Cleanup, volunteers will have the opportunity to get together and share stories about the weirdest items they found at our 60th Anniversary Celebration Event. Join us on May 29th from 6:30 – 9pm at SeaWorld for what is bound to be a great time! More information is on our website too!



Can’t wait to see all of you out there on April 26th for another fabulous Creek to Bay Cleanup. And here’s to hoping that this year’s weather is a little warmer than 2007, but not as warm as 2008!

True or False: plastic bags go in the blue bin?

Today’s blog post comes from our Environmental Educator Monica Rosquillas!monica

Here’s a question we get a lot: do plastic bags go in my blue recycle bin?

Unfortunately, the answer is NO. We thought it was important to address this because plastic bags are one of those items that many people misplace into the recycle bin. To learn WHY plastic bags aren’t recycled along with other plastic products, we contacted our friends at EDCO Waste and Recycling. This is what our friend Robert Hill at EDCO had to say, “EDCO doesn’t process bags because this material reaps havoc on our equipment.  The bags clog our screens and we lose the ability to properly process all other items since the screens can’t separate items due to bags wrapping around them”. So basically, plastic bags aren’t taken in at the recycling facility because they clog up the equipment.


Here are some scary stats about how many bags we use, and how detrimental they are to the environment:

-Total number of plastic bags used worldwide annually: 1 trillion

-Number of plastic bags used worldwide per minute: 1 million

-Number of plastic bags the US uses per year: 1 billion

-Number of years it takes a plastic bag to degrade: 1,000 years

Keep these guys out of landfills!

Keep these guys out of landfills!

However, plastic bags can still be recycled! To do this, simply place them in a special plastic bag recycling container. These containers are widely available outside of grocery and retail stores.  Next time you go grocery shopping, remember to bring those plastic bags with you. From there, companies like TREX, recycle those bags into composite decks and deck furniture.

You can recycle your plastic bags at most major grocery stores

You can recycle your plastic bags at most major grocery stores

Of course we think recycling is great.  But even better than recycling is reducing by reusing! Refuse the plastic bag and bring your own reusable bag instead. 

Tsunami Debris, Paint, and… Intestines? A Creek to Bay Site Captain Profile

The 12th annual Creek to Bay cleanup is coming up on April 26! We like to give our volunteers some background on the site captains who help lead the cleanup, as well as some facts about various sites at which they may volunteer. Today we profiled Wainwright Hester, a long-time C2B site captain and big advocate of cleaning up SD!

Hester captaining away at C2B

Hester captaining away at C2B

Wainwright Hester had been organizing cleanups at his work for years, often at Creek to Bay sites.  One year a  call went out for  site captains and he thought he’d help out and give it a try.  Seeing all of the trash that could have stayed in the area without all of the volunteers’ hard work made the whole experience well worth it.  Wainwright thinks the C2B cleanup is really important for our local environment.  So much debris collects in our waterways that, if not regularly cleaned out, it would cascade into a much bigger problem! If we can catch those containers with paint, oil, or whatever chemical is lurking inside of them, before they degrade enough to leak, we can keep a simple cleanup from  turning into a major cleanup. Plus, the longer trash is in our waterways, the more it decays from one big piece into numerous smaller pieces and thus making it harder to completely remove.

c2b13 trash

This year, as he has in the past, Wainwright is captaining  Torrey Pines State Park and, according to the California Coastal Commission, Torrey Pines is a prime site for Japanese tsunami debris to accumulate. Last year he didn’t find any obvious tsunami debris but volunteers could possibly find some this year.  When asked what the weirdest object Wainwright found at a cleanup was, he replied, “I was at Ponto State Beach a few years ago and someone found animal intestines. Animal: at least that’s what we kept telling ourselves.” Hey, at least our cleanups are both beneficial AND keep you on your toes?

Volunteers of all ages, helping clean up Torrey Pines State Beach!

Volunteers of all ages, helping clean up Torrey Pines State Beach!

Wainwright’s favorite part of the Creek to Bay Cleanup is the volunteers. Since they are volunteering, they often have a volunteering attitude so they are willing to do whatever needs to be done to make his C2B site a success.

Any final words to encourage our wonderful ILACSD team to sign up and volunteer for C2B 2014, Wainwright? “I think that everyone should participate in at least one clean up in their lifetime because it would bring awareness to what actually happens when someone does not throw their trash into a trash can. It would be a real eye opener for people who think that litter is either not a problem or that nature alone can handle it.” We couldn’t put it better.  Thanks for all your hard work, Wainwright, and we look forward to seeing you on the 26th!

Join Wainwright at Torrey Pines, or any of our other 90+ inland and coastal Creek to Bay cleanup locations: sign up today!


Ewaste: Why You Should Care, and What To Do

Ewaste is a growing problem.  As we keep adding new electronics to our lives (and who doesn’t want to get a new cell phone every two years!), we are then swamped with an excess of the old ones.  Ewaste is defined as, basically, anything you can plug in.  This means cell phones, refrigerators, TVs, keyboards, your monogrammed waffle iron, you name it.  It also includes the “secondary” waste that comes from these products, like copper wire.  The EPA estimates that only about 28% of all ewaste gets recycled. So what happens to the other 72% of ewaste? Unfortunately, that amount winds up in local landfills where lead, mercury, and other toxins soak into the ground.  The hazards of ewaste are pretty severe and can cause serious health and pollution risks. Some ewaste is banned from landfills.  In California, law prohibits cathode ray tubes from televisions and computer monitors from entering the landfill.  Regardless, you never want to dump your ewaste in the landfill (this means keep it out of your trash and recycling bins).  Ok, so now that you know what ewaste is, what do you do with it?

What comprises ewaste

What comprises ewaste

Here are a few tips for safe ewaste disposal:

1. Repair it! Maybe your laptop’s CD drive broke when your cat jumped on it.  Instead of buying a whole new laptop, get the current one repaired! You may be asking where you can get such a thing done. Well, we built you a whole repair database, where you can search the item you need repaired and find a convenient location.

An option (maybe) for ewaste repurposing

An option (maybe) for ewaste repurposing


A cute art project made from an old keyboard

2. Re-purpose it! We can’t quite think of how to reuse that old laptop, but how about all the other ewaste you may have? Circuit board shoes not your idea of how to spend a Sunday? How about this cool way to reuse the keys in your keyboard- make a neat art project by spelling out the letters and putting them in a shadow box.  Also check out our Pinterest page, where we find ways to re-purpose all sorts of items.

3. Recycle it! The ewaste you dispose of likely isn’t 100% recyclable, but many of the components are. Regardless, if you can’t figure out what else to do with your ewaste, your best bet is to take it to a collection event.  Again, we have you covered- check out our events calendar for upcoming ewaste recycling events (usually there’s around one per weekend).

Have any questions about recycling? Contact us  at  1-877-R-1-EARTH (1-877-713-2784)

Calling all Clean Freaks and Greeks! ILACSD is looking for fraternity and sorority volunteers!

Today’s blog post comes from our expert Community Events Coordinator, Lexi Ambrogi.  If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering or want to sign up for an event, contact her at 


We may not think of San Diego as a college town, but with UC San Diego, San Diego State, and University of San Diego right in our backyard, there are tens of thousands of college students in our community. For many students, a big part of the collegiate experience is Greek life—fraternities and sororities can be a great way to make friends and enjoy your 4 years (or 5, if you fall in love with San Diego’s beaches and want to hang around a bit longer).

We’ve been fortunate enough to team up with some great fraternities and sororities at our cleanup events. Are you involved with Greek life? Here are the top 5 reasons we want to see you our at our next cleanup event:

5. Leadership: Looking for some leadership experience for your resume? Look no further. Why not organize a cleanup for your fraternity or sorority through our Adopt-A-Beach program? Or take it a step further and get trained as a site captain to lead a cleanup site for one of our countywide cleanups, Creek to Bay or Coastal Cleanup Day.

4.  Exercise: We’ve been known to find some pretty heavy items at our cleanups.  Why not get your sweat on while removing things like tires, mattresses and tables from canyons that have served as illegal dump sites?

Better than Crossfit: exercise through ILACSD tire removal

Better than Crossfit: exercise through ILACSD tire removal

3. Benefit your own community: Hey, you’re going to be here for a few years. Pitch in and do your part to protect San Diego’s beautiful beaches, bays and canyons—all of which are negatively impacted by pollution and litter.

Cleanups protect our beautiful beaches, oceans, and we bet these ducks appreciate them, too!

Cleanups protect our beautiful beaches and oceans, and we bet these ducks appreciate them, too!

2. Philanthropy: Most Greek organizations have a philanthropic component. That means you’re probably looking for community service opportunities. Well, we have plenty of ‘em! We host cleanups every month, and we have two ongoing volunteer programs that you can participate in year-round so you can get your fill of service.

1. Mingling: Ok, so you’re in a fraternity or sorority. You love meeting new people and building connections and relationships. Our cleanup events draw hundreds of volunteers; what better way to connect with other chapters and members than at a cleanup? Volunteer for a few hours, spend the rest of the day on the beach with some new friends. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday!

delta sigma phi

Delta Sigma Pi, a UCSD professional fraternity, out at a cleanup

You can see a list of our upcoming events at Sign up for one today!


Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund

Protecting the CA coast is now as easy as checking a box!

What if I told you that by simply checking a box, you could provide a meaningful donation to protecting the California Coast? That’s right, this year as you file your state income tax returns, you can show your love for California’s coast at the same time.  Just enter a donation of any amount next to the Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund – listed in the “Voluntary Contributions” section on the last page of your California tax return. Your contribution will go back into our communities, providing grants to clean up shorelines, restore habitat, bring kids to the coast (some for the first time), and promote beach access.

Just check the box!!

Just check the box!!

The donation goes to to the California Coastal Commission’s Whale Tail Grant Program, which provides a ton of funding for some local San Diego programs, including a couple of I Love A Clean San Diego programs.  Since its creation, the Whale Tail Grant Program has brought almost a million dollars, $902,231 to be exact, to San Diego County coastal and marine education programs!

Protect our coast and oceans for all of us, including our furry friends who love to enjoy some time at the beach.

Protect our coast and oceans for all of us, including our furry friends who love to enjoy some time at the beach.

Some of the programs that benefit from this funding are I Love A Clean San Diego’s “Adopt-A-Beach” Program, UC San Diego’s Birch Aquarium “School to Shoreline” Program, and the American Lung Association’s 1-800-NO SMOKE Campaign.  All of the programs that receive funding from the Whale Tail Grant program are dedicated in some way to either keeping our beaches and coastal areas clean and accessible, educating people about pollution prevention, or getting kids that maybe have never been to the beach educated about the environment and into the water.

For more information about the Whale Tail Grant Program or how to donate, check out You can double your impact by getting a Whale Tail license plate next time you are renewing your car registration. Those funds also go right back into the community to support marine conservation.

Funds from the Whale Tail license plate program support ILACSD's Adopt-A-Beach program!

Funds from the Whale Tail license plate program support ILACSD’s Adopt-A-Beach program!

Questions From Kids: Why are storm drains not filtered?

Today’s blog post comes from our amazing program assistant, Nicole!

Being a Program Assistant for I Love A Clean San Diego is truly a wonderful experience. I’m filled with enormous gratitude to have the opportunity to visit schools throughout San Diego County and share information with students. Everywhere I visit, kids share curiosity for information about our environment and have a passion for the future of our planet and nature.

Our  High School Watershed Presentation raises environmental awareness in students by teaching the harms of storm water pollution in local watersheds. The presentation teaches that there are many types of pollution that are easily contained before they become a problem. Students are empowered to learn that they can be part of the solution by recycling oil, scooping poop, and utilizing hazardous waste collection services. However, to many students it seems only logical that something more must be done to resolve this problem.

A High School Watershed Presentation student learning the hard way about litter!

A High School Watershed Presentation student learning the hard way about litter!

One of the most common questions I have from the kids following the watershed presentation is, “Why are there no filters or screens on the storm drain inlets?”

Before addressing the question from the kids it is important to explain what is a “Storm Drain?” When there are heavy rains, parking lots streets and flat areas in a town can flood and create hazardous conditions. Storm Drains are drainage systems which are specifically designed to handle an excess of water as a result of flooding or heavy rainfall. Thier sole purpose is to quickly and efficiently move excess storm water into rivers and streams and eventually to the ocean. It is important to note that everything that goes down the storm drain goes directly to the ocean. Currently there are no filters on storm drain inlets which poses a major pollution risk, because trash, sediment, organic debris, and spills in the streets are carried through the unfiltered storm drain system. For this reason, Storm Drains have signs above them which say “No dumping, drains to ocean” to remind people to protect their waterways by disposing of pollutants responsibly.Think-Blue-Stencil-9-2009reduced

So back to the question from the kids “Why are there no filters or screens on the storm drain inlets?” A drain inlet filter or screen sounds like a feasible and logical solution. However, during a rainstorm, trash, sediment, organic matter, and other debris can quickly be swept into drain inlets. Heavy accumulation of trash, sediment, and organic debris  can clog grates, thus preventing proper drainage and potentially creating a flooding. Currently, local universities and the state of California are in the process of evaluating new technologies in the form of filtration or screening devices to be installed to help manage and control storm drain pollution and enhance water quality control. They have conducted comparative studies to analyze how various filters hold up as being effective mechanisms for collecting unwanted pollution that goes down storm drain inlets. Most of the storm drain inlet filters currently being tested would require regular maintenance to ensure effectiveness. The solutions are in progress and it is going to require a collective effort to make sure they are carried out. There is no shortage of great ideas for how to address and solve this pollution problem. The City of San Diego is taking action to reduce storm water runoff by incorporating Low Impact Development techniques into constructed surfaces such as rooftops, streetscapes, parking lots, sidewalks, and medians. These design elements work with nature to filter polluted storm water. For example, parking lots and streetscapes can be constructed to funnel storm water into landscaped elements called bio-swales that capture and filter rainwater before reaching local waterways.

Rain flows into storm drains and then oceans, bringing with it any debris

Rain flows into storm drains and then oceans, bringing with it any debris

Enrichment education programs offered by I Love A Clean San Diego are focused on spreading up-to-date information. Great questions from kids demonstrate that the message about how to protect and preserve our environment is being heard. It is inspiring to hear the passion they have and it gives me confidence that as a society we can and will take action for a healthy planet.


Loving More than A Clean SD at Cupid’s Cleanup!

 We can’t promise you’ll find love, but we do guarantee you’ll have a great time and show your passion for the environment at our annual Cupid’s Cleanup!  Join us on Saturday, February 15 for a neighborhood and canyon cleanup in North Park and South Park, and stick around for a fun Valentine’s Day-themed mixer hosted by Thorn St. Brewery.

Volunteers toasting their hard work at a past Cupid's Cleanup

Volunteers toasting their hard work at a past Cupid’s Cleanup

This Valentine’s-themed event isn’t just about picking up litter; it can also be about picking up your future spouse. Yup, this has happened.  Not too long ago, at a past Cupid’s Cleanup, Julie and Kenny Potter met and fell in love.  Now married, the Potters are pretty solid evidence that our cleanups work both for the environment and for your love life.  Check out a cool interview below with these lovebirds. 

And for those of you who have already found your other half, we welcome all volunteers- single, married, kids, and families!

Be sure to join us for the post-event party at North Park’s Thorn Street Brewery: volunteers are invited to stop by for some free beer tasters as a thank you for their hard work.

If you’d like to sign up for this event, contact Lexi Ambrogi at or (619)-704-2778. Hope to see you all there!




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