Breaking Down a Breezy Creek to Bay Cleanup!

Today’s blog post comes from our Community Events Coordinator, Lexi Ambrogi, who is one of only 2 people who fearlessly and tirelessly planned this year’s Creek to Bay Cleanup!S


As the numbers and results trickle into our office, we’re growing more and more confident of one thing: our 12th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup was a success!

Flash back to 5AM Saturday morning. Our staff members’ alarms were all set to right around this time, and I’m betting that they looked out their windows and thought what I did: that wind! That rain! How is it possibly this loud outside right now?

But fortunately for us, the weather actually improved throughout the morning, and by the time volunteers started reporting to our record 96 cleanup sites throughout San Diego County, it was almost pleasant outside.

While the threat of rain may have kept a handful of volunteers in bed that morning, preliminary totals indicate that we had more than 5,000 people cleaning up their local creeks, beaches and bays as part of this event! And while the trash totals are still being compiled, we’re expecting that these volunteers removed roughly 150,000 pounds of litter and debris from their communities.

Two volunteers pulled this tractor tire out of Chollas Creek, though maybe with a little help…
Two volunteers pulled this tractor tire out of Chollas Creek, though maybe with a little help…

Every year at this event—and Coastal Cleanup Day in September—we look forward to hearing about the interesting and bizarre things that our volunteers find tucked away in canyons, riverbeds and trails. Some of my favorites this year include a cast iron bathtub (Alpine), a teddy bear scientist (Golden Hill), a 6-foot stuffed bear (City Heights), and a 5-pound bag of raw chicken wings (City Heights).

Despite the smoking ban at San Diego County beaches, volunteers are reporting that cigarette butts were once again the most commonly found item at their cleanup sites. With the help of initiatives like our Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, we’re hoping that we’ll see fewer butts on the ground and more in the trash can where they belong. Thanks to all of our Creek to Bay Cleanup sponsors who help make this event possible each year!

A family with the Bank of America volunteer team at Memorial Community Park works together to clean up Logan Heights.
A family with the Bank of America volunteer team at Memorial Community Park works together to clean up Logan Heights.

Looking to join us at our next event? We have a bunch of cleanups coming up in May and June. Click here for more information on how to get involved!


Volunteers at Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach relax after a morning of hard work. Way to go with those reusable buckets, guys!
Volunteers at Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach relax after a morning of hard work. Way to go with those reusable buckets, guys!

Creek to Bay Cleanup 2012: The Final Totals!

On Saturday, April 28th, 2012, volunteers from across San Diego County joined together for I Love A Clean San Diego’s 10th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup. After gathering information from all of our sites, we’re excited to officially announce our totals:

88 cleanup sites (29 coastal, 59 inland)

6,000 volunteers

185 miles of coastal and inland areas covered

150,000 pounds of trash

These numbers reflect approximately 600 MORE volunteers than last year, but they collected a few thousand pounds LESS in trash and debris than the previous year’s totals. What does this mean? Our cleanup events like Creek to Bay and the upcoming Coastal Cleanup Day, are effective and San Diego is becoming a cleaner city! Although we expanded into brand new (and much dirtier) sites, many of our volunteer Site Captains noted a decrease in pollution in their areas. In the upcoming years, we look forward to focusing on newer, in-need sites that haven’t received as much attention in the past.

Updated: Photo contest voting has ended. You can see our winner here!

Although the cleanup has ended, don’t forget to vote for your favorite picture from the event on our Facebook page for our Volunteers In Action Photo Contest! Volunteers sent in photos that they thought represented the spirit of the Creek to Bay Cleanup with hopes of winning a brand new Sony camera. We’ve narrowed the contest down to three finalists:

San Marcos Creek Cleanup Site
San Diego River, Fashion Valley Site
Vista Duck Pond Cleanup Site

Visit our Facebook page, view the Volunteers in Action photo album, and “like” your favorite picture to help them win. Tomorrow is the last day to vote!!

5,800 Volunteers + 150,000 Pounds of Trash = a Cleaner San Diego

Today’s post comes from ILACSD’s Marketing Intern and USD student, Maddy Blake. Updated 5/3/2012 with new totals!

ILACSD’s Staff ready for the big day!

I Love A Clean San Diego celebrated its 10th annual Creek to Bay Cleanup this past Saturday, April 28th. An amazing 5,800 San Diegans joined together across the county to preserve and beautify their local environment. This year also marks the San Diego Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary, over 1200 of scouts took part in the cleanup to show their commitment to the environment and witness the effects that pollution has on their communities.

Volunteers separated trash and recyclables.

Thanks to all of these fantastic volunteers, San Diego is a much cleaner county. In fact, more than 150,000 pounds of trash and debris were removed from local parks, canyons, creeks, bays and beaches in the span of just three hours! As in years past, cigarette butts and plastic bags were among the most common items found, but this year, some of the most interesting items our volunteers picked up were a rocking horse, a bowling pin and a five-gallon container of pickles.

Daisy scouts pitch in at Creek to Bay.

With a total of 88 cleanup sites, the most we’ve ever had for Creek to Bay, there was somewhere for everyone to go and something for everyone to do. This year, cleanup events were held at five brand new sites in communities we hadn’t reached yet:

  • Paradise Hills – 40 volunteers filled an entire roll-away dumpster of debris
  • Spring Valley – 49 volunteers collected over 260 pounds of debris
  • Santa Ysabel – 20 volunteers removed 200 pounds of debris
  • Banker’s Hill – 49 volunteers removed 250 pounds of debris
  • University Heights – 32 volunteers can boast removing 1,200 pounds of debris

You read that right, at the site known as Camelot Canyon (the area beside the 163 at the Vermont St. bridge in University Heights), volunteers picked up 1,200 pounds of debris in that three hour timeframe and unfortunately there is more work to be done in that area. The site was brought to our attention by local University Heights resident, Alison Whitney, who bikes past the canyon on her way to work everyday. With the help of CalTrans and ILACSD, Alison organized this cleanup to make this corner of her community a little more enjoyable for local residents. Click here to read Alison’s interview with KPBS.

Just a sample of some of the debris picked up.

While about 40% of this year’s cleanup sites were in coastal areas, cleaning up inland sites like Camelot Canyon ensures that the trash will not travel down the watershed system and end up in our waterways, bays and the ocean. Furthermore, by expanding into the five new sites, an additional 2,000 pounds of debris were removed from the environment! After ten years, I Love A Clean San Diego still dedicates itself to county-wide programs and expanding its reach even farther to preserve and ensure a healthier San Diego for everyone.

Volunteers painting over graffiti near Fashion Valley Mall.

Picking up trash is not the only activity our volunteers participated in – many sites included other beautification projects such as graffiti removal, mural painting, native planting, brush maintenance and other general park maintenance.

Don’t forget – if you joined us at Creek to Bay this year, remember to submit your favorite photo to ILACSD for our Sony Volunteers In Action photo contest! Photos are due on May 4, 2012, then the top 3 photos will be posted on our Facebook page, where our fans will vote for their favorite. The winner will be announced on May 18th! Click here for more details.

We want to thank ALL of the volunteers who took time out of their weekend to do more with their morning at the 10th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup! We’d like to give a special thank you to the following volunteer groups who came out to show their love for a clean San Diego:

  • Local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormon Helping Hands Service Day
  • Girl Scouts, San Diego-Imperial Council
  • Sony
  • Gothic Volunteer Alliance
  • Torrey Pines Elementary School
  • Palabra Miel Oceanside
  • Vista Magnet Middle
  • Palquist Elementary School
  • Palomar College TRiO
  • New Haven Youth and Family Services
  • Temecula Kids for Peace
  • PASS AmeriCorps
  • Nokia
  • Ramona High School Fusion
  • Toler Elementary School
  • Starwood San Diego
  • LEVI
  • Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School
  • Mueller Charter School
  • Pima Medical Institute
  • AMC Plaza Bonita 14
  • TSC San Diego
  • Pima Medical Institute
  • San Ysidro High School Surf Club
  • Montgomery Middle School

Volunteer Spotlight: Brent Carter

We are less than two weeks from I Love A Clean San Diego’s 10th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup! With over 5,300 volunteers last year, our amazing site captains are vital in guaranteeing the success of this countywide event. This year they are taking the lead at 88 sites across San Diego County and ensure that their volunteers have everything needed for a successful cleanup.

This week is also National Volunteer Appreciation Week and it couldn’t have come at a better time! We’ll be recognizing many of our amazing volunteers throughout the week so if you haven’t already, make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today’s Spotlight: Creek to Bay site captain, Brent Carter!

Brent first reached out to ILACSD four years ago because he needed supplies for a cleanup he was organizing in a canyon near his home. He quickly decided to become a volunteer site captain at our Creek to Bay Cleanup, leading volunteers to beautify the 47th St. canyon site. Brent says that Creek to Bay is an important event because “bringing attention to urban sites that have been forgotten is essential, and Creek to Bay does that in a great way. It is easy to forget the pathway of debris, from the watersheds in the canyon, down to the sea.  It also a great way to get people out of their homes or routines and make some new friends on a wonderful day of stewardship!” 

All of us here at ILACSD want to thank Brent for his dedication to keeping his backyard canyon and our watersheds clean!

Full Q & A with Brent Carter:

What motivated you to volunteer with ILACSD?

I had been doing cleanups and restoration in the canyon near where I live, and heard about ILACSD from community leader, Linda Pennington.  She said ILACSD had helped her do events and helped organize, bring volunteers and provided equipment.  I can say that they have been so organized and helpful.  They essentially provide an “event in a box,” which is heaven-sent for a small group leader like myself.

How long have you been volunteering with ILACSD? 

Four years (ish)

How long have you been a site captain for Creek to Bay?

Four years (ish)

Have you always been a captain at the same site (47th St. canyon)? 

Yes, although I helped manage five sites for Coastal Cleanup Day last year.

Why is that site important to you? 

I live on the edge of the canyon and walk my dog there every day.  There are five of us with dogs that pick up trash and patrol the canyon each morning!  Keeping it clean, restored and safe is a priority to me.

What is your favorite part of participating in the Creek to Bay cleanup?

From start to finish, this is a great event.  ILACSD helps bring volunteers, gives advice, and provides equipment. I wish every organization I have worked with was so professional and on the ball!  Working with such surprising and varied volunteers is awesome, then walking through the site looking at how effective everyone has been is wonderful.

Why do you think cleanups like Creek to Bay are important to keeping San Diego healthy and clean?

Bringing attention to urban sites that have been forgotten is essential and Creek to Bay does that in a great way.  It is easy to forget the pathway of debris, from the watersheds in the canyon, down to the sea.  It also a great way to get people out of their homes or routines and make some new friends on a wonderful day of stewardship!

What is the strangest piece of trash you’ve found at a Creek to Bay Cleanup?

Strangest thing EVER is: four baby teeth in a little box.  I still have not figured out how they got in a canyon – any ideas? It’s odd, just odd.

What Will YOU Find?

You never know what you will find at the Creek to Bay Cleanup. Over the last eight years volunteer have found some very unique items.  Some of our volunteers have found a disco ball, an ab-roller, a purple plastic camel, a velvet suit, a couple safes and even a prosthetic arm and mannequin, among other strange items. Others have found valuables such as a $20 bill, a digital camera, half of a $3,000 check and a wallet with money in it. All of these unique discoveries just add to the excitement surrounding Creek to Bay.  With 75 locations this year who knows what participants may be able to find? This is just another reason that you should come out to one of the Creek to Bay locations this Saturday April 30th, 2011 at 9am and join the thousands of other volunteers that are doing something positive for San Diego. For more information, go online to

One individual found a trophy from 1911. Participate and you might be able to find a trophy of your own.