Record Breaking Turn-out for Tsuanami Sweepers Cleanup

Volunteers picking up litter before it is swept away by the tide. We are passion in action.

San Diego’s Tsunami Sweepers were at it again last weekend for our first cleanup of 2016! I Love A Clean San Diego has been named the first responder in San Diego to assist in the cleanup of debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami that is expected to wash up on California’s shores in 2016.

While our volunteers were looking for tsunami debris, there was plenty of litter to pickup on our end, as well. Our coastline is the last stop for litter before it reaches the Pacific Ocean so ILACSD and an astounding crew of 305 volunteers set out to beautify one of San Diego’s most scenic and iconic natural spaces, Torrey Pines State Beach.

Volunteers ready to cleanup with waivers and even reusable buckets in hand!

Even with a chance of rain in the forecast, hundreds of San Diegans turned-out to keep Torrey Pines State Beach clean and beautiful. Equipped with bags, buckets, trash grabbers and gloves, volunteers of all ages spread out across the sandy coastline and walkways. 

Volunteers took to the walkways in addition to the sandy beach where they found more Styrofoam and cigarette butts.

Thanks to the full moon, the tide was unusually high, but that didn’t slow down our team of dedicated volunteers. Many of them took to the nearby walkways to capture trash before it reached the sand and tide, as well.

On the beach side of the cleanup, volunteers continued to find small pieces of trash including several pieces of fishing net.

Rocks and boulders are the perfect hiding spots for litter.

In a matter of only two hours, volunteers collected mostly cigarette butts, bits of Styrofoam and food wrappers. Even though our volunteers didn’t find any tsunami specific debris, volunteers still collected over 500 pounds of litter! 

Weighing the litter at the end of the event is one of the most rewarding parts of every cleanup we do.

If you weren’t able to make it to our first cleanup, don’t worry! We have monthly cleanups as well as two countywide cleanups, Creek to Bay and Coastal Cleanup Day. Find out how to get involved by visiting our upcoming events page!


The Totals are In! 2013 By The Numbers…

Today’s post comes from I Love A Clean San Diego’s Director of Development & Marketing, Morgan Justice-Black, who thinks that annual program totals are pretty much the cats pajamas!HPIM1703_cropped

As someone who spends most of my days fundraising, there is no more exciting time of the year than the end of the year. Seeing those last few donations come in before the new year rolls around and crossing my fingers that we meet our projected revenue goals has become an annual tradition for me. But I also love the end of the year for another reason…the opportunity to compile our program totals for the year!

My coworkers run their programs pretty much up until the last week of the year. This year, we had two cleanups in December, as well as education presentations in schools through December 19th! Shout out to Mission Estancia Elementary in Carlsbad for being our last presentations of 2013! Naturally, the holiday “break” was spent doing some serious math, adding up the total number of volunteers we mobilized, the number of education sessions that we hosted, and much more.

Well, I’m happy to report that the results are in! And once again, I’m in awe of how much an organization of just 12 staff can get done!


30,510 volunteers

440,953 pounds of debris collected

79,689 cigarette butts

5,334 straws

and a whole lot more!


28,220 youth educated

600 environmental education presentations


15,555 requests for recycling information

1 brand new repair database,

All in all, 2013 was a great year for I Love A Clean San Diego. But I’m confident that 2014 will be even better. Why? Because we are turning 60! Not me personally of course, but I Love A Clean San Diego! Since 1954, we’ve been working to prevent pollution in San Diego County, giving us a BIG reason to celebrate! So stay tuned for how we are going to make 2014 a year to remember. Oh, and if you didn’t get your donation in before the end of the year, our mailbox is always open 😉


Carroll Canyon Cleanup, a Site Captain’s Perspective on Creek to Bay

Today’s blog post comes from our Marketing Intern, Christina, who fearlessly led a cleanup site as part of the Creek to Bay Cleanup. christina

This year’s Creek to Bay Cleanup was a huge success thanks to all of our hard working staff, interns and volunteers! We’ve all had time to exchange stories and reflect on our experiences, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my experience with all of you. This was not only my first Creek to Bay, but my first ever event with I Love A Clean San Diego, so I was excited and a bit nervous as I served as a site captain for Carroll Canyon.

Upon arrival, I noticed how steep the descent to the actual canyon was and felt a bit intimidated knowing I was about to lead groups of students and cub scouts down the treacherous hill through mounds of poison oak. Some of the volunteers blew me away with their incredible enthusiasm and dedication. For example, one man who was volunteering with John Deer Water, showed up at 8:30, which was half an hour before the event even began, grabbed a trash bag and headed down the canyon straight away. He told me this was his third cleanup, and a well-seasoned veteran wastes no time waiting for others. Throughout the duration of the event he made 4 complete trips into the abyss and back with two full black bags of trash each time. Everyone was supremely impressed with his dedication and persistence.

Volunteers in canyons are an essential part of the Creek to Bay Cleanup
Volunteers in canyons are an essential part of the Creek to Bay Cleanup

Trekking alongside the creek that runs through the canyon, we were all very surprised to find such a large amount of debris. There isn’t much surrounding the area so it was odd to find so many beer cans, clothing, plastic bins, and Red Box sleeves. How exactly do you watch DVDs in a canyon anyway? At one point, two Cub Scouts were seen in the distance lugging a giant rusted tent and canopy up the steep hill, we all ran to their aid but they refused help because they wanted to be able to say they hauled it all the way to the top themselves. The boys won our competition to see who could collect the most garbage. They were thrilled to receive free passes to the Birch Aquarium. After all of the Carroll Canyon volunteers battled their way through the terrain for three hours, we all felt a little more connected to each other and a little scared we had all contracted poison oak.

After everyone had parted ways, I couldn’t help but feel so proud of our community for giving up so much time to come hang out with me and help make San Diego a bit cleaner, healthier and more beautiful. I look forward to working I Love A Clean San Diego’s future events, and we all hope to see YOU there as well!


Spotlight On: Aimee Edmonds, Creek to Bay site captain

Join Aimee Edmonds and her family as volunteers for this year's Creek to Bay Cleanup, and help protect our coast!
Join Aimee Edmonds and her family as volunteers for this year’s Creek to Bay Cleanup, and help protect our coast!

When Aimee Edmonds’ daughter’s American Heritage Girls troop chose our Creek to Bay Cleanup as their spring service project, she had no idea she would soon be bringing together not only the troop, but also her church, to clean up the area around their local elementary school. While looking around the Creek to Bay website for a cleanup site for the AHG troop Aimee said, “I quickly narrowed my search to Mira Mesa on the Creek to Bay website and there discovered ILACSD’s outstanding need for a Creek to Bay site in none other than…Mira Mesa!”

Mira Mesa, and specifically Hage Elementary School, is where Aimee and her family attend Newbreak Church, so she knew that the area was in need of not only litter pickup, but landscaping and painting projects. Aimee immediately reached out to our Community Events Department and signed up as the site captain for Mira Mesa. As the site captain, Aimee will receive training and supplies for her site from ILACSD and then will lead the volunteers the day of Creek to Bay.

When we asked Aimee why she though events like the Creek to Bay Cleanup were important she said,

“A clean San Diego is a visible expression that we as residents responsibly care about and appreciate our community where we live and breathe…Serving others is cross-generational and cross-cultural as it builds character in our youth, adolescents, and adults. The next generation is taught how to be good stewards of the things in which we are entrusted.”

Site captains like Aimee are the heart and soul of the Creek to Bay Cleanup, we could not mobilize 6,000+ volunteers at 92 sites across the county – all on one day – without them! Aimee says, “I look forward to bringing people together to help meet real needs at Hage Elementary. We want to show their administration, staff, teachers, students and families we value them as we come alongside them.”

Thanks Aimee and all our other site captains for the great work that you do as an extension of the ILACSD staff!


Volunteers Kicked Butts at the Morning After Mess Cleanup

Today’s post comes from ILACSD’s Community Events Intern, Gabe Grinstein.

Volunteers up bright and early to cleanup up the Morning After Mess!

Already this morning, 227 volunteers came out and joined I Love A Clean San Diego by Belmont Park in Mission Beach for the Morning After Mess cleanup. After having the day off yesterday to celebrate Independence Day, there was no better way to start off the day than with a beach cleanup to recover all the mess from yesterday’s festivities. It was an early start for me, getting up at 7 so I could get to Belmont Park by 8 to start setting up. To be honest, I started quite slow since I was very tired, but I woke up once people started to come by and sign up. The mood was great around the volunteers as there were many eager people ready to participate, and we had 94/9 radio right next to us playing music and advertising our organization and event on the radio.

Volunteers combed the beaches picking up cigarette butts, plastic bags, bottles, and more.

Time always flies by during events since it becomes so busy. I didn’t clean up any trash, but I weighed the trash and recycling bags, and added tally-marks to the big board to show how many cigarette butts, plastic bags, styrofoam pieces, and other items that we collected. By the end, we had marked 8,260 cigarette butts! This is an astonishing number since one cigarette butt can contaminate up to one gallon of water, so thankfully we picked them up before they reached the water.

Gabe keeping track of trash as it came in.

Volunteers also picked up 80 plastic bags, 134 styrofoam pieces, 345 pounds of trash, and 130 pounds of recyclables. People began to leave after a couple of hours and we started wrapping up around 11:30. The end is always my favorite part of the cleanups because I get to see all of the smiles of people when they turn their bags in. I can always see a sense of accomplishment on the faces of the volunteers. It is a great feeling knowing that we bettered the environment we live in, even if it wasn’t our mess.


Enjoy the Scene, But Keep It Clean!

Last year’s CBC trash bin.

I Love A Clean San Diego and other local nonprofits are at it again, hoping to make this summer the cleanest on record at some of our most popular beach destinations. As hundreds of thousands of people look to descend on local beaches this summer, I Love A Clean San Diego, FreePB,org, and Surfrider Foundation are working hard to make sure the beaches don’t bear the brunt of what thousands of people leave behind…trash! As part of the Clean Beach Coalition, our organizations work together to remind our community to be aware of the amount of trash they make, and also place temporary trash and recycling bins at the most popular beaches during popular holidays like the 4th of July.

Even with the added trash and recycling bins, inevitably some trash still ends up on the sand. If you’re sick of your favorite beach getting trashed, you can do something about it by volunteering at the Morning After Mess, scheduled for Thursday, July 5th at 9am! ILACSD will be hosting our cleanup site at Belmont Park in Mission Beach. Contact Jemma De Leon at or 619-704-2778 if you are interest in participating or have any event questions.

Our thanks go out to the sponsors who helped make this year’s campaign a reality!

Think Blue – City of San Diego Stormwater & Transporation Department
Pacific Beach Shore Club
Keep California Beautiful
Paradise Point Resort & Spa.

Visit to learn more!


Local Students Defend the Sea at Kids Ocean Day 2012

Many people will look at this picture and squint at it thinking, what is that?

“Are those rocks?” is a common question we’ve heard since releasing this picture after last week’s Kids Ocean Day. The design is definitely not made of rocks, or shells, or even trash from a cleanup. This amazing image is a piece of living art made up of over 1000 people. Yep, those are local San Diego students, parents, volunteers and the ILACSD staff sitting on the sand at Crown Point Shores sending a message to the rest of San Diego to ‘Defend the Sea.’

Kids Ocean Day is how we here at I Love A Clean San Diego get kids involved in celebrating World Oceans Day each year. This amazing work of art started as just an idea a few months ago, and was brought to life by ILACSD’s Environmental Educator, Alex Mullen-Ley and Education Coordinator, Samantha. Our staff were up before the sun last Thursday, mapping out and drawing Alex’s design in the sand.

As the buses began arriving, 3rd-5th grade students from 8 local schools started the day by cleaning up the beach, finding cigarette butts, beverage containers and small pieces of plastic.

The excitement started to build as we began lining the students up to file into the aerial art and the news helicopter started circling overhead. It was amazing to watch our octopus come to life piece by piece as the students and volunteers started to fill in the lines of the image. Most of the kids had never been a part of anything like this and were very excited to find their place in the sand.

Last but not least, the I Love A Clean San Diego staff sat down to form the eye of the octopus.

The second helicopter arrived, carrying our friend and photographer Rachel Lebowitz from Outside the Lens, another local nonprofit that teaches youth to use digital media to create change within themselves and their community. We were so impressed at how well behaved the students were as we waited for word from Rachel that she’d gotten the perfect shot!

Kids Ocean Day was coordinated in 5 cities in California, all using the theme ‘Defend the Sea’ in their designs. Click here to visit the Ocean Day website and see all of the amazing aerial art images!