Food Waste: Impact beyond the Plate

My faceHi I’m Shannon and as one of the marketing interns for ILACSD I am excited to have the opportunity to explore the effects of food waste . My interest in food deserts and the lack of healthy food options in America led me to investigate how food waste affects our community and ways we can prevent it all together.

When I think about wasted food I imagine feeling guilty about leaving those last pieces of broccoli on my plate after dinner, however, food waste is much more serious than wasting a few good veggies. Food waste refers to the massive quantity of quality food that is wasted annually instead of being given to those in need. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “Forty percent of the food produced in the United States never gets eaten.” So what does food waste really do?

Don’t worry there are ways to fight back against food waste!

The San Diego Department of Public Works has some great solutions to help you minimize food waste in the future. They rely upon the Environmental Protection Agency’s food recovery strategy to most efficiently and cost effectively reduce San Diego’s food waste. Based on this hierarchy, San Diego’s DPW established a food waste system based on 3 simple steps: Reduce, Donate and Compost.

Food Recovery Hierachy

To best implement waste reduction in our personal lives the DPW suggests re-considering portion sizes, limiting the number of menu items you order when you go out to eat and planning all the week’s meals so your grocery list only consists of what you need to make those meals. According to the DPW it is important to be conscious of the volume of food you eat in comparison to the volume of food you waste.

Donating leftover food is another great way to reduce food waste! There are a lot of local organizations that lead San Diego’s effort to feed hungry San Diegans. Check out Feeding America and San Diego Food Bank for local options to donate your leftover quality food. Reducing food waste also means giving those without the means to feed themselves the food they need to survive.

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Kids think composting is fun too!

The final step is using spoiled and leftover food for composting in your own backyard or neighborhood! Check out our previous blogs on composting to see how easy and fun it really is.

It’s important to remember that food waste is a serious national issue so let’s work together to help make San Diego even better than it already is and improve the lives of thousands in the process!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Successful Zero Waste Plans IRL

Sam2016 - 131x172Today’s blog comes from our Contracts Manager, Sam, who has been attending several meetings related to San Diego’s Zero Waste Plan, including food recovery and organics recycling. The idea of zero waste can seem daunting or too far-fetched. Read on to learn about other cities that have successfully implemented zero waste practices IRL (in real life) and what San Diegans can do to help reach these waste diversion goals.

As we all know, “Zero Waste” is a hot button word around environmental circles these days. By its definition, Zero Waste is a commitment to diverting at least 90% of all waste away from landfills, and utilizing other means of proper disposal. But what does it look like in practice? How far along are we? What are the challenges? We will take a look at three California cities to see!

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Repurpose tip: extend the life of common items like glass bottles and jars by transforming them into home decor!

Let’s start with the current big kid on the block in all environmental programs, San Francisco. San Francisco has been among the leading pioneers in the nation for environmental programs, and zero waste is no exception. As a part of their commitment to 90% waste diversion by 2020, San Francisco has implemented composting and green waste recycling pickups at businesses and residences. Along with convenient disposal, San Francisco has also invested in providing the public with educational resources about reducing food waste, consumer and producer responsibility, and the list goes on! When other cities in the U.S. look to a city to replicate good behaviors, San Francisco is a wonderful place to start.

Next, let’s look at Los Angeles. Currently hovering around 75% diversion of waste away from landfills, Los Angeles’s goal is to to achieve a lofty 97% waste diversion by 2030 through SWIRP, which is an acronym for Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan. LA’s infrastructure will soon follow in the footsteps of San Francisco to ensure that greater tonnages of green waste (yard clippings, food scraps, etc.) and compost can be properly disposed of instead of winding up in a landfill. Along with San Francisco, LA believes educational outreach for both food waste reduction and proper recycling techniques are critical to their long term goals. Looking to achieve 87% diversion by 2020, Los Angeles has made a firm commitment to realizing their ultimate “zero waste” initiative by 2030.

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Practice makes habits! Students practice sorting paper, cans, and food scraps into pretend trash, compost and recycling bins.

Last, but certainly not least, our wonderful home of San Diego. The macro-level goal is to achieve virtually 100% waste diversion by 2040, with yearly increments designed to test the progress. Along with LA, San Diego is playing catch up to San Francisco in regards to the infrastructure required to divert large quantities of green waste. Working with the State recycling agency, CalRecycle, as well as haulers and constituents to ensure the County meets its goals will be required if they hope to reach their goals:

  • 75% by 2020,
  • 90% by 2035
  • “zero” waste by 2040

In order to achieve this, the County will need to divert an additional 332,000 tons to offset the current 67% diversion rate. They hope to do this by encouraging haulers to divert more away from landfills, educate San Diegans, and of course divert more green waste away from landfills. Click here to learn more about San Diego’s Zero Waste plan. 

Sustainable-Living-Series-Summit-flyerIt’s exciting times! Zero Waste is no longer just a dream, but it is now a successful process! And with the process, we can see the evolution towards greener, healthier, and more beautiful communities. I Love A Clean San Diego is doing its part by revamping our comprehensive recycling database, WasteFreeSD.org, to include zero waste tips and tricks to fit any lifestyle.  You can always give us a call at 1-877-R1-EARTH to have any of your recycling questions answered as well.

If you’re looking for a more hands-on approach, our education team hosts community workshops designed to give you real life solutions like choosing reusables, how to shop in bulk, etc. Our next workshop, the Zero Waste Summit, will take place on Saturday, June 11th at Ocean Knoll Farms in Encinitas. Let us know you’re coming by registering ahead of time – Here’s to Zero Waste!

We’re calling for a Sea Change this Kids’ Ocean Day

We’re getting ready for the 23rd annual Kids’ Ocean Day event happening this Friday, May 20! You may remember last year’s Kids’ Ocean Day where 1000 students, teachers, and volunteers  from both sides of the US-Mexico border came together to create this historical bi-national image.

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Hundreds of students from both sides of the US-Mexico border stood together to create this powerful message.

While this year’s event is not bi-national, we’re looking for adult volunteers to join us at South Mission Beach as we create one of our most power aerial art messages yet – we’re calling for a sea change, a dramatic shift in our current habits to protect the Pacific Ocean.

Students from local elementary schools – Chula Vista Learning Community Charter, Fay Elementary, Field Elementary, Florence Elementary, Foster Elementary, Joyner Elementary, Porter Elementary and Whitman Elementary – will step outside of the classroom and into their environment – feeling the sea breeze on their faces, perhaps for the first time.

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Sand sifters are our favorite cleanup tools!

The students will start the day off with a beach cleanup to learn firsthand about how trash travels and how they can make a positive impact.

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While small items may seem insignificant, they cause a lot of problems for our ecosystems and marine life.

Following the cleanup, over 900 students will stand side-by-side with their teachers, I Love A Clean San Diego staff and volunteers to create a piece of living art – an aerial art image that spells out “SEA CHANGE” along South Mission Beach. This powerful image seen from the sky signifies the unity needed to improve the health of the world’s oceans. Here’s is a sketch of the art to get you excited about this year’s message!

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With over 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans, now is the time to make a difference. If we continue on our path as is, it is estimated that pieces of plastics will soon outnumber fish in the ocean. The good news is that everyone, including youth, can contribute to creating a cleaner future.

If you want to be a part of this message, we’re looking for adult volunteers to lead students during the cleanup and the art. If you’re interested, please register here. As a thank you, all volunteers will receive a photo of the complete aerial art image as a keepsake.

Thanks to our primary sponsor, The California Coastal Commission for providing financial support from proceeds of the Whale Tail License Plate and the Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund. Additional event sponsors include Cox Communications, Qualcomm and the Charles and Gail Kendall Family Donor Advised Fund at the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation.

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Leila’s solutions for hard to recycle items

I Love A Clean San Diego’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database, WasteFreeSD.org, helps hundreds of San Diego residents every month to find local solutions to their recycling questions. The online database serves as a resource for residents to seek their own solutions; unfortunately some questions do not have a simple answer and that’s where the I Love A Clean San Diego staff comes in.

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From recycling questions to waste reduction tips, the ILACSD staff can help answer your questions!

As Recycling Call Center attendants, Ani and Leila know firsthand the types of items that are difficult for residents to recycle. Some inquiries require additional research on our part and we gladly take the responsibility of tackling the task to seek the proper locations for disposal. Here is a look at some hard to recycle items and how to properly repair, repurpose, donate or recycle them:

Fluorescent light bulbs and tubes
Countless individuals have “gone green” in their households by switching out traditional incandescent bulbs for energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Making the switch to CFL’s is a great energy conservation strategy that allows households to cut costs while embracing an environmentally friendly choice. However, with great energy savings comes the even greater responsibility of safe and proper disposal. CFLs contain small traces of mercury within the glass tubing, placing the bulbs under the classification of household hazardous waste.  Retailers like Home Depot and Batteries Plus offer free, in-store recycling programs for unbroken CFL bulbs only (spirals, flood lights), however,  recycling programs vary by retailer. When in doubt, visit our database or your local Household Hazardous Waste collection facility. 

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Household Hazardous Waste collection facilities accept a variety of items including paint, cleaners, etc.

Railroad Ties
Railroad ties are pressure treated wood that contains creosote, a pesticide used to protect the integrity of the wood. This chemical leaches into the wood over the time, as well as the soil and ultimately the local watershed. Railroad ties are not approved by the EPA for residential use and should not be repurposed for landscape purposes. There are two locations in the County of San Diego that will accept railroad ties: Chula Vista and Ramona. To find out how to properly discard railroad ties, search the database for more information.

DVD’s, VHS Tapes, and CD’s

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Perhaps during your spring cleaning you came across some dusty DVD’s, VHS tapes, or CD’s that remind you of a time when CD players still ruled the musical sphere. If it’s time to let go of certain ones, consider using the zero waste hierarchy to keep these materials from entering the landfill.

Reduce: Go virtual! Countless companies provide streaming of movies, TV series, and music. Movie rental kiosks are also a great way to reduce the accumulation of movies, albums, or even video games.

Repurpose: Save those broken CD’s and DVD’s to create beautiful mosaic tile pieces on a table, birdbath, or plant pot!  Great DIY ideas can be found on our Pinterest.

Donate: DVD’s, VHS tapes, and CD’s that are in good condition can be donated to your local Goodwill or thrift store. Some lucky individual will stumble upon it and give it a new home!

Recycle: Be sure to recycle unwanted or damaged DVDs, VHS tapes and CDs at a local recycling center.

Mattresses
Mattress recycling has come to San Diego! The Mattress Recycling Council has recently launched the Illegal Mattress Dumping Compensation Program in California as an approach to mitigate costs of collecting illegally dumped mattresses. The program will provide reimbursement to permitted solid waste facilities and local governments for the number of illegally dumped mattresses collected. Residents can also receive payment for mattresses through MRC’s Bye Bye Mattress Program for up to 5 mattresses at a time.

RV’s

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Riddle: What is made up of a variety of materials like wood, metals, and fiberglass AND can be tricky to recycle? Sometimes referred to as the Relaxing Vacation or more commonly known as Recreational Vehicles, the recycling of an RV presents a challenge to many residents. If the vehicle still has miles to go before it retires, consider donating it!  There are a handful of organizations like Wheels for Wishes, San Diego Armed Services and YMCA that will accept a working RV.

If the RV is damaged and no longer running, it can be disassembled for scrap metal and wood recycling. There are a couple of companies that will even tow your RV to recycle it for a fee.

More information about these items is available on WasteFreeSD.org! And if you need a refresher on what is recyclable in your blue bin take a moment to watch I Love A Clean San Diego’s new recycling video! 

Record Breaking Creek to Bay Results

c2b16 mountain view park (247)Today’s blog comes from our Community Program Manager, Moriah who is eager to share this year’s Creek to Bay Cleanup totals!

I am thrilled to announce that the 14th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup was an overwhelming success! This year, we focused on increasing communities to volunteer together in their own nearby parks, open spaces, canyons, creeks and beaches.  In total, our volunteers cleaned up a record 110 sites all over the county!

Totals from around the County are still coming in, but we can confidently report that this year’s event was record breaking all around! More than 6,400 volunteers channeled their appreciation of San Diego’s environment into action and removed more than 170,000 pounds of trash and debris from our county!

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What is even more impressive is that considering how many sites we had, we actually collected less trash than usual.  That means that we are all making improvements in our daily lives to reduce the amount of waste that we create and dump into our environment! On top of this, volunteers also beautified and restored the local environment through removing invasive plants, planting trees and native plants, stenciling storm drains, and performing a variety of park maintenance projects.Before and After - Postage Stamp Pt.

Our staff helped out at our media site, Mountain View Community Park.  While across the County we were expecting rain, the sun came through for a beautiful day.  More than 200 volunteers ranging from community members to corporate teams came out to beautify the park.  We painted bleachers and buildings, planted day lilies, stenciled storm drains on neighborhood streets, and removed more than 4,000 pounds of debris from the park and surrounding community.  It is so inspiring to see members of the community heartened after connecting with the beauty of their local environment.Fox Canyon

At almost every cleanup event cigarette butts and plastic items are our most commonly found items.  This year was no different, but there were quite a few found items that took our site captains and our staff by surprise.  Our North Swan Canyon site in City Heights found 13 rolls of piano music from the 19th Century, quite a few sites reported finding small toy dinosaurs, and New Roots Community Farm found a litter of kittens from a cat that lives at the garden! We are happy to say that the kittens are safe and sound and one of them even went home with Leila, our Recycling Program Assistant!

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Meet Tonks aka Lil Sprout!

Thank you again to all of our site captains, volunteers, event sponsors and partners for all of your support! Stay tuned for our final totals, and save the date for our next countywide cleanup, Coastal Cleanup Day, happening Saturday, September 17th, 2015! More information can be found at www.CleanupDay.org!

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Thank you from the ILACSD team!

 

New Resources Promote Water-Efficient Landscapes

Today’s blog is from our friends at the San Diego County Water Authority! Read on to learn more about the newest water-wise landscaping resources that are available!LogoColorVertPCbig

May is Water Awareness Month and studies have shown that large improvements are being made statewide to effectively conserve water and our reservoirs are slowly but surely making their way back to pre-drought levels. With that said, we all can do our part to conserve this precious and unpredictable resource.

When in Drought

Were you aware that more than half of a typical single-family household’s water use happens outdoors?

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To help improve our region’s outdoor water efficiency, the San Diego County Water Authority recently launched two new resources – an online video series that guides homeowners through the process of transforming their yards into water-efficient landscapes, and an EPA-approved training program for landscape professionals.

The WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program’s Videos On Demand take the content of the Water Authority’s award-winning WaterSmart Landscape Makeover classes and condense it into 17 short, engaging episodes that provide step-by step guidance through the landscape retrofit process, including site analysis, design, implementation and maintenance.  To watch the videos, or learn more about the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program, go to LandscapeMakeover.WaterSmartSD.org.

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The Water Authority also is now a partner in the Qualified Water-Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) training program. This program provides landscape professionals with 20 hours of education on principles of proper plant selection for the local climate, irrigation system design and maintenance, and irrigation system programming and operation.  Go to QWEL.WaterSmartSD.org to learn more, including information about hiring QWEL-trained landscapers.

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In addition to these new resources, the Water Authority continues to work with multiple partners to help homeowners and business owners maximize water efficiency. Please visit  www.whenindrought.org for links to water-use rules by community and other conservation resources, such as incentives for rain barrels to low-water-use devices and appliances.

Thank you to all of you who have conserved and continue to find new ways to make the most of our most precious resource! 

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Tips for a Green Graduation

c2b16 mountain view park (278)Hi my name is Hannah and I am currently one of the Outreach Interns at I Love A Clean San Diego! I am graduating this May from San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainability.  My love for the environment started in high school after taking a course in environmental science, which led me to my major. I am always trying to find ways to be more sustainable, including my upcoming college graduation.

Graduation season is quickly approaching. From kindergarten to college, there will be millions of students all over the globe walking across a stage to receive their diploma.  Here are 4 ways to be sustainable this graduation season and have a green graduation!

  1. Send evites to your friends and family to attend your graduation ceremony or party rather than paper announcements! You will not only be saving the planet, but also saving money. The online alternative to invitations is affordable, easy, and environmentally friendly! Websites such as Paperless Post, Greenvelope, and Punch Bowl all offer free or low cost alternatives.

  1. Rent or recycle your graduation gown! There are more than 5 million high school and college graduates every year each purchasing a graduation gown they will probably never wear again and could end up in a landfill, if it is not recycled. Greener Grads is a website that provides low cost cap, gown, and tassel rentals. If you have already graduated or purchased your gown, don’t fret, Greener Grads will recycle it for you after you are done.

SDSU gown

  1. Arrange a carpool for your guests attending your graduation or encourage them to take public transportation. Not only will there be tons of traffic getting to and from the ceremony, but they will be making a positive impact on the environment.   Since SDSU has a trolley stop right on campus, my family is staying at a hotel in close proximity to a trolley stop for my graduation this May for a quick, sustainable, and hassle free journey.
  1. Encourage your friends and family to refrain from showering you with balloons and candy leis at your graduation ceremony, and let them know their attendance is more than enough! We are currently facing a helium shortage, you know the stuff that we fill balloons with, and studies suggest supplies could be depleted before the middle of the century. Helium is a non-renewable resource, so once it’s gone it’s gone. Another popular graduation ceremony gift are candy leis, but candy wrappers are made from mixed materials that can be very difficult to recycle.

We’ll that’s it! If you’re graduating this spring or if you know someone who is, take these tips with you as you celebrate this incredible milestone with our environment in mind. For more sustainable ideas for other occasions, follow I Love A Clean San Diego on Pinterest!

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Creek2Bay Site Captain Spotlight – Dixon Lake

I Love A Clean San Diego appreciates all the hard work our volunteers put in to our cleanups in order to keep San Diego beautiful. Today, we would like to highlight one our amazing volunteers who has taken on the role of site captain at Dixon Lake in Escondido. If you’d like to join her at her site or one in your neighborhood there’s still time to register at CreektoBay.org!

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Lori having a blast at last year’s Dixon Lake cleanup!

Lori is a program assistant with the recycling division in the City of Escondido. At the recycling division, Lori handles the disposal of hazardous waste for the city and public education about waste diversion. Through her work, Lori attends farmers’ markets and schools to demonstrate repurposed crafts and recycling 101 as ways to reduce waste.

Lori originally got involved with the Creek to Bay Cleanup a few years ago when she accompanied her supervisor to a site captain meeting. After attending a few more site captain meetings, Lori decided this year she would be a site captain herself at Dixon Lake. 

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The Creek to Bay Cleanup gets the community involved and invested in protecting our environment. Lori says, “People come to the sites and make a positive impact on the environment.” She believes that every piece of trash counts and that it also is very eye-opening for members of the community.

When asked why the Creek to Bay Cleanup is so important to her community, Lori said, “We are keeping the area clean, families are out and bonding, and the park rangers enjoy it.”

At Dixon Lake there are few recycling receptacles. Lori hopes to ultimately change that and match every garbage can with a recycling bin.

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Lori keeps coming back every year to the Creek to Bay Cleanup because it is a rewarding few hours. She encourages others to come out and spend a few hours with their families to enhance our environment. Lori believes Dixon Lake is more than just a lake, “it’s a beautiful part of Escondido that brings many people together”.

Join us tomorrow, Saturday, April 23rd at one of our 110 Creek to Bay Cleanup sites! If you’re in the Escondido area, join Lori at Dixon Lake or find a site in your neighborhood at CreekToBay.org!

We’ll hope you join us at one of our 100+ sites as we beautify San Diego!

We are enhancing our environment, starting in your neighborhood.

A big thank you to Lori for all her work as a site captain and to the Escondido Recycling Division for supporting I Love A Clean San Diego’s Creek to Bay Cleanup. Thank you for investing in a clean San Diego!

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How to start a recycling program at your office

The majority of our day is spent at work. Every day you’re bound to deal with some amount of paper, especially if you work in an office. Implementing a recycling program in your office will require dedication, encouragement and education; luckily we have some tips on how to smoothly transition to a greener office.

First, find out what your waste hauler accepts and doesn’t accept, because each waste hauler is slightly different. You can find this information from a building manager or an administrative assistant.

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Start by catching everyone up to speed on what is recyclable and what isn’t.

Next, inventory your trash and recycling bin – how well is your office recycling already? Where can the recycling efforts improve?  Can you increase paper recycling, beverage container recycling, and food packaging recycling? Assess the items that are used most and which items are placed in the wrong bin. The goal is to divert those items from the trash can and into the recycling bin. From there you can set goals that are obtainable for your office.office recycling collage

Start small. Set a goal for the office that requires an educational component. Remind everyone that this is a team effort and involve everyone in the goal setting process. Appoint an overseer (we suggest you call them a “Sustainability Champion”) and as an incentive, reward others when you see them recycling properly.

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In our shared kitchen area, we’ve labeled both of the trash & recycling bins along with a graphic that illustrates what items go in each bin.

Periodically, squeeze in a friendly reminder about the recycling goal at the bottom of an email or at the end of a staff meeting. Remember to avoid demanding phrases or shaming. Instead, highlight the achievement of individuals or the entire office. If you need a boost of eco-positivity, check out this blog from our Education Manager, Emily.

If you are looking to further expand your recycling program, appoint someone to collect any non-working electronics to recycle at a collection facility, not your office recycling bin. Common office items that can be collected for recycling include batteries, toner and inkjet cartridges, computer components, and fluorescent light bulbs.

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Batteries are recyclable at household hazardous waste collection facilities.

In addition to an electronic waste pile, take your recycling efforts to the next level and add a donation pile in a cubicle or in the storage room.  There are great organizations around San Diego that will accept office items in good condition. To find a local organization visit WasteFreeSD.org

Remember to provide several rewards and words of encouragement. Set recycling goals that are achievable and go from there. Your office will continue to make improvements that will lead to the ultimate goal of zero waste!

 

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This blog has been sponsored by California Bank & Trust. 

Creek2Bay Site Captain Spotlight – Spanish Landing

c2b16-flyerEach year, I Love a Clean San Diego hosts the annual Creek to Bay Cleanup, with over 100+ cleanup sites. We like to highlight our volunteer site captains who go above and beyond to help make this event possible. For today’s blog, we’ve chosen Brendan Reed from the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority to tell us about his journey to help keep San Diego clean and how he and his team are making a difference in our community. Read on to learn more about how Brendan got involved and how you can make a difference at a site near you.

Brendan is a seasoned volunteer site captain and is committed to keeping San Diego clean. When he isn’t volunteering with ILACSD, you can find him at the San Diego Regional Airport Authority, where he is the Environmental Sustainability Manager. Brendan’s main focuses are energy and water conservation, air quality management, and clean transportation at the San Diego Airport.

Having such a passion for sustainability Brendan finds himself as the site captain at Spanish Landing Park East in Point Loma – what he considers “the front door step” for the traveling airport passengers. Spanish Landing is a relatively new site, which Brendan believes makes it an “untapped” area for cleanups. While the site is generally kept clean, Brendan says that you would be surprised by the amount of trash you can still find and cleanup, especially objects like cigarette butts, old fishing line, and other smaller items. 

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Small pieces of litter really do add up!

Brendan first started volunteering with ILACSD ten years ago when he was the environmental manager for the City of Chula Vista. What keeps Brendan coming back year after year? Brendan says it’s, “ILACSD’s mission and their on-the-ground projects.” Brendan feels that through cleanups, communities are engaged and it’s a great benefit not just for the environment but for everyone. Brendan encourages others to come out on April 23rd at one of the 110 sites because even their smallest actions could make all the difference. “With 5,000 plus volunteers we are making a difference and that’s inspiring”.

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It’s more than a cleanup. Creek to Bay is about community.

He encourages those who are looking to get involved with I Love a Clean San Diego to find a site that has meaning for them. By volunteering at the Creek to Bay Cleanup, we can help reduce our impact on the local environment.

Keep San Diego thriving and show it some love! Save the Date for the Creek to Bay Cleanup happening on Saturday, April 23rd by registering today at CreektoBay.org!

A big thank you to Brendan Reed for all his work as a site captain and to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority for supporting I Love A Clean San Diego’s Creek to Bay Cleanup.

Thank you for investing in a clean San Diego!

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