Chula Vista students explore the impact of plastics

ILACSD Education Specialist, Grace!

Today’s blog is from our Education Specialist, Grace! Grace is apart of ILACSD’s team of educators which leads thousands of students and adults each year in hands-on activities that showcase how our choices impact the environment around us. Read on for highlights from one of our favorite presentations from last year! 

First, a little background.

Plastic has been integrated into almost every facet of our daily lives, from plastic water bottles and grocery bags to polyester clothing and packaged food. It has become so incorporated into our society that often times it is hard to perform routine tasks without the use of plastic. Subsequently, a lot of  plastic makes its way into our environment, travels through our waterways, and often finds its way into the ocean. One of the most notable areas where this garbage collects is the Pacific Garbage Patch.

Various animals are impacted by plastics in the environment, through entanglement and ingestion. One animal in particular that has been severely harmed by this trash is the albatross, a seabird that frequents the Pacific Garbage Patch. Through this ingestion of plastics and other trash, many of these birds become malnourished and starve.

How can we make a difference?

Grace engaging a group of students in a discussion about what they found during the bolus dissection.

In conjunction with our educational programs, students at High Tech High Chula Vista were given the opportunity to witness this tragedy first hand through their dissection of an albatross bolus. Much like an owl pellet, these birds naturally regurgitate indigestible items including squid beaks, and volcanic rocks that help with their digestion, all components of a typical bolus. However, as the students discovered, today’s boluses tell a different story. Students removed fishing line, bottle caps, plastic and foam bits, and polyester fibers from boluses, highlighting the level of impact that we are having on the albatross and other marine organisms. Plastic has become so ubiquitous in the environment and the lives of these albatross that of the 10 boluses the students dissected, 100% of them contained some degree of plastic fragments.

100% of the boluses that the students dissected contained plastic.

Although many would feel discouraged by these findings, the students at High Tech High Chula Vista felt further empowered to continue their journey toward having a more positive impact on their environment. If you’re looking for simple ways to start reducing your personal plastic usage, consider refusing single-use straws, investing in reusable sandwich bags, and committing to remember your reusable grocery bags. Get started on the right foot by attending I Love A Clean San Diego’s free Zero Waste Home workshop happening this Saturday, January 9th! 

10.7.15 - SLS (22)
Learn the basics of living a zero waste lifestyle at our next free workshop happening this Saturday, Jan. 9!

Also, keep an eye out for our upcoming blog about the students’ 70 Day Shake-up project and how they integrated creative environmentally friendly habits into their everyday lives!




Fall Cleanups prepare SD for El Niño

Moriah_team15Today’s blog comes from our Community Program Coordinator, Moriah Saldaña. If you’ve been wanting to join us for one of cleanups but haven’t had the opportunity, October is your month. Read on to learn more about what makes our fall cleanup line up so important and how you can be a part of it!

After four years of severe drought, the coming of El Niño is welcome news! Scientists are predicting even greater storms during this rainy season than in 1997.  It is important to ensure that we are prepared, whether that means clearing your rain gutters, taking advantage of the City of San Diego’s rain barrel rebate program, or clearing our natural spaces of litter and debris.  Yes, that’s right, it is crucial to remove as much trash as possible now to prevent flooding caused by waterways blocked with trash and overgrown vegetation. On top of the possibility of flooding, whatever trash remains in local creeks and canyons will flow directly to the Pacific Ocean, causing coastal pollution and beach closures.

Tijuana River, US Border, Looking toward Tijuana, United States-Mexico Border, San Diego, California
San Diego has 11 watersheds made up of canyons and waterways which empty into the Pacific Ocean. (Tijuana River Valley pictured)

Interested in helping? We have two upcoming cleanup opportunities that need your support, just in time for the rainy season!

TRAM calendar buttonCome out to the Tijuana River Valley on Saturday, October 3rd from 9am-noon to help I Love A Clean San Diego pull trash, tires, and other debris from the Dairy Mart Road Bridge area before it makes it way out to the Pacific.  This event is a part of Tijuana River Action Month, which is a series of events held during September and October to bring people together in an effort to improve the Tijuana River Valley.  With around 40 volunteers at our June Tijuana River Valley Cleanup, we cleaned up over 4,000 pounds of trash.  Think of how much more we could pick up with double the volunteers! To register, click here.

The bucket says it all. Come out, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty for a clean & beautiful San Diego!

Clearing trash out of the Tijuana River Valley is especially important before this rainy season, since our beaches in the South Bay are consistently some of the most polluted beaches.  Even today, the Beach Advisory is warning people not to go to any beach south of Coronado because of possible pollution.

tram water bottlesocial media
Volunteer at the Tijuana River Valley Cleanup to claim your very own ILACSD water bottle!

And a thank you, everyone who volunteers this Saturday at the Tijuana River Cleanup will receive a complimentary reusable water bottle! Click here to register today.

Beautify Chula Vista Day is great for the whole family!

BCVD calendar buttonThe following weekend on October 10th, we are partnering with the City of Chula Vista for the 13th Annual Beautify Chula Vista Day! This year for Beautify Chula Vista Day we will have two sites, one at Discovery Park and another at the Otay Recreation Center.  Volunteers will pick up trash, remove graffiti and do other beautification projects to make Chula Vista shine. 

This event has made an extensive impact on the City of Chula Vista as a whole.   Since the first Beautify Chula Vista Day,
thousands of dedicated residents have painted out 7,750 square feet of graffiti, stenciled 200 storm drains to warn against dumping, planted 117 trees, and removed nearly 40,000 pounds of debris
 littering neighborhoods in Chula Vista, showing that huge results can come from volunteers that donate just one morning a year toward helping their community.

More information about the event and registration can be found at:

To stay up to date on upcoming cleanups and events, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! A current list of events is also available at


Top 6 Reasons To Be An Adoptive Canyon Parent!

We are excited to announce the addition of two Chula Vista canyons, Del Rey Canyon and Rice Canyon, that are now available through the Adopt-A-Beach Clean Canyons program! Join us as we work with the Chula Vista Charitable Foundation and the California Coastal Commission to protect our canyons—and ultimately our beaches—from the harmful effects of litter and pollution. Whether you’re an individual volunteer, part of a community group, or a business looking to make a different,  you are welcome to register to adopt these canyons on the website at

Canyons are great places  for humans and pets to enjoy nature! Here's our Program Assistant Barbara's dog Wiley on a walk in Rice Canyon.
Canyons are great places for humans and pets to enjoy nature! Here’s our Program Assistant Barbara’s dog, Wiley, on a walk in Rice Canyon.

Why should you add a canyon to your family? Here are our top 6 reasons:

1. Inland cleanups are crucial to preventing marine debris.  80% of trash that winds up in the ocean starts inland and travels through San Diego County’s 11 watersheds.

2. Be our 10,001st adopter! 10,000 volunteers a year are a part of our Adopt-A-Beach program, making it ILACSD’s most popular volunteer activity.

3. The harmful effects of debris are severe: these include negative economic and aesthetic impacts and harm and risk to human health and safety.

4. Free education presentation! as part of the program, ILACSD offers free education presentations to interested adopters as part of their first cleanup.  These presentations are usually on-site at the cleanup

5. Protecting our local plants and animals: trash causes injury and death to animals through entanglement and ingestion as well as habitat destruction.  Species indigenous to these canyons, such as the San Pedro Martir coyote and the San Diego Sunflower, are threatened by polluted environments.

The San Pedro Martir coyote, local to Southern California
The San Pedro Martir coyote, local to Southern California
The San Diego Sunflower: a native that blooms in sage scrub of these canyons.
The San Diego Sunflower: a native that blooms in sage scrub of these canyons.

6. Because YOU love a clean San Diego! 

A bit commitment shy? If you would like to try out a canyon cleanup before deciding to adopt, you are welcome to attend our launch cleanup at Del Rey Canyon on Saturday, December 14th from 9AM-12PM.


Our thanks to the Chula Vista Charitable Foundation for their financial support to expand the Clean Canyons program into Chula Vista. We look forward to increasing volunteer engagement in Chula Vista as a result of their generosity!

I Love A Clean (and Beautiful) Chula Vista!

We think all of our cleanups are important and fantastic, but one stands out as a bit unique: Beautify Chula Vista Day, this October 12.  Beautify Chula Vista Day is significant in many respects. It is a chance for the Chula Vista community to actively participate in enhancing the environment in which they live. Urban litter is not only an eye sore, it also contributes to environmental damage. By properly disposing of trash, waste is prevented from polluting waterways which harm plants, animals, and humans. Reporting and removing graffiti gives the urban landscape a fresh, newly painted start free from vandalism.  Volunteers will be removing litter, graffiti, and invasive plants in Rice Canyon at Discovery Park, or can remove litter and graffiti from the surrounding neighborhood at Otay Recreation Center.


Beautify Chula Vista Day is a dynamic community cleanup event organized by I Love A Clean San Diego and the City of Chula Vista, and made strong by thousands of enthusiastic volunteers.   We are proud to partner with the City of Chula Vista and show the power of joining forces! Now celebrating its 11th year, this event has made an extensive impact on the City of Chula Vista as a whole, having reached 11 areas with plans to continue on its path to make a difference for many years to come. In the last seven years, thousands of dedicated residents have painted out 4,133 square feet of graffiti, planted 117 trees, and removed nearly 19,000 pounds of debris littering neighborhoods in Chula Vista, showing that huge results can come from volunteers that donate just one morning a year toward helping their community.

Removing grafitti goes a long way towards renewing park space
Removing grafitti goes a long way towards renewing park space

Volunteers who take part in this special event lead by example, and can be proud that they have personally contributed to a beautiful and clean Chula Vista. This rewarding experience is designed to instill community pride and environmental stewardship. Last but not least, it is also fun!


An item found at last year’s BCVD. We don’t like to ‘toot our own horn’, but this is a pretty amazing cleanup