Preliminary Counts from a Remarkable Coastal Cleanup Day as Results Continue to Roll In

While results continue to trickle in from this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day, one result we can’t overlook is the incredible time that was had by all of our participants! From volunteers picking up litter at the beaches to groups removing graffiti and refurbishing playground equipment, the volunteers expressed the immense joy they took away from the experience! As a direct result of all of that hard work, San Diegans are now able to enjoy more than 100 clean outdoor spaces free of litter!

ILACSD’s Pauline with our sponsors and speakers officially kicking off Coastal Cleanup Day by planting a tree.

For the past 30 years, I Love A Clean San Diego has coordinated Coastal Cleanup Day in San Diego County as part of a statewide and international cleanup effort to restore coastlines across the globe. The effort is coordinated statewide by the California Coastal Commission and internationally by The Ocean Conservancy. While international totals for 2017 are not available yet, in 2016, in 92 countries around the world 504,583 volunteers picked up more than 18 million pounds of trash!

A before and after look at the D Street Fill cleanup site in National City!

ILACSD team members woke up extra early on Saturday morning to lead more than 250 volunteers in beautification projects at Golden Hill Park. Even with volunteers spread out among various beautification projects including mulching, tree planting, mural paints, and storm drain stenciling, they still managed to clear out over 2,500 pounds of debris! 

As for the entire county, preliminary totals for Coastal Cleanup Day in San Diego indicate that we had over 7,500 volunteers cleaning up 105 local creeks, canyons, beaches, and bays as part of this event!  While the trash totals are still being compiled, we are expecting that more than 150,000 pounds of trash were removed from San Diego County. On top of the trash removal, volunteers also beautified and enhanced the local environment through painting murals, removing invasive plants, planting trees, mulching, and performing a variety of park maintenance projects.

Volunteers painted a mural at the Golden Hill Recreation Center!
Volunteers preparing an area to be mulched.

Every year at Coastal Cleanup Day and Creek to Bay, our two annual countywide cleanups, we see that cigarette butts and small plastic items are our most commonly found items. While unfortunately, this information is not that surprising, we are often stunned by some of the unique pieces of litter that our volunteers find. Some of the favorites this year include a dish rack, costume vampire teeth, RV door, an elephant shrine, and a Charger’s jersey.

Volunteers at Spanish Landing found dentures during their cleanup.

Many thanks go out to all that donated their time and effort to volunteer with us on Coastal Cleanup Day. We feel lucky to put on such a beloved event with dedicated and wonderful participants every year! This year, we had individuals, groups, and corporate volunteer teams out all over the county representing various organizations including SDG&E, Wells Fargo, Lincoln Military Housing, Bank of America, San Diego County Water Authority, San Diego Metropolitan Credit Union, Illumina, Evans Hotels, and a large number of scout troops!

Bank of America volunteers winding down after cleaning up the Golden Hill site!


Volunteers from SDG&E excited to clean up at the Scripps Ranch site.

See more pictures from Coastal Cleanup Day and our other cleanups on Facebook and Instagram!

Looking to join us at our next event? We have a quite a few volunteer opportunities coming up. Visit our upcoming events page for more information on how to get involved!


Coastal Cleanup Day Site Highlight: Volunteers Needed Here!

Can you believe it’s already September? In the ILACSD office, that means we’re in full swing for Coastal Cleanup Day! It seems unreal that it is less than two weeks away. As we amp up for this huge day of action for our environment, we wanted to take some time to show some love to our cleanup sites that are still in need of more volunteers! Volunteers are encouraged to register at a cleanup site in need today at!

Stop inland trash and debris from making it out to the beach this Coastal Cleanup Day!

While the beach locations are a big hit for Coastal Cleanup Day, it is still vitally important to spread out our efforts throughout the county. San Diego County has 11 different watersheds that carry debris out to the coast and ocean. This year, we want to encourage volunteers to explore a newer area also! Stop debris from even reaching the beach where it is more likely to end up in the ocean and affect the wildlife.

With over 100 cleanup and beautification sites throughout San Diego County, Coastal Cleanup Day offers this unique opportunity to explore new areas in your own town! Volunteers can find a new area for hiking or a neighborhood park they never knew about before. Check out some of the sites listed below to find a new site you’d be interested in volunteering at on Coastal Cleanup Day. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your new favorite hidden gem in San Diego!

Click any of the sites listed below to take you directly to the registration page for that location. If you have any questions about these sites or Coastal Cleanup Day in general, feel free to reach out to our Community Programs Coordinator, Michelle Freeman.


North County:

Fallbrook – Live Oak Park

Central San Diego:

Alpine Creek before volunteers cleaned it up last year on Coastal Cleanup Day.

Mission Hills Neighborhood Cleanup

Chollas Creek – Chollas Pkwy at Boyce

City Heights – Auburn Creek

City Heights – Cooper Canyon

Hillcrest – South Marston Canyon

Emerald Hills – Emerald Hills Park

Volunteers in the swing of it on last year’s Coastal Cleanup Day at Cooper Canyon!

East County:

Lemon Grove Park

Lemon Grove – Chollas Creek

Encanto Park

Alpine Creek

El Cajon – Fresh Farm

Last year, Howard Lane Park got an upgrade with new paint! Keep the park in tip top shape at Coastal Cleanup Day this year!

South County:

Chula Vista – Sweetwater River

Otay Valley Regional Park – Saturn Staging Area

Tijuana River Valley – Smuggler’s Gulch

San Ysidro – Howard Lane Park

Otay Mesa – Dennery Canyon

San Ysidro – San Ysidro Blvd

Give Smuggler’s Gulch some much-needed love this Coastal Cleanup Day!

Coastal Cleanup Day Site Highlight: Paradise Creek

This year’s Coastal Cleanup Day is set for Saturday, September 16th from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM. One local wetland has benefitted from the work of a dedicated group of volunteers for the last 25 years, and it is once again set to be a site for the annual volunteer effort.

Paradise Creek Educational Park is a public park in the Old Town neighborhood of National City that was designed to increase environmental stewardship and to provide a place of respite in the busy city. Paradise Creek has flowed out to San Diego Bay as part of the Sweetwater River watershed for thousands of years. In 1999, the non-profit organization, Paradise Creek Educational Park Inc., formed to carry out the mission of advocating for and preserving the salt marsh wetlands. Since that year, a group of community members, teachers, students, families, and others have been holding Creek Day cleanups on the last Saturday of every month. 

On this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day, the park will hold a small celebration of the recent completion of work carried out by the City of National City. Come out and take a walk through the new entry way of native plants at 1815 Hoover Avenue in National City. Also, there is a new schoolyard garden that can be visited. Check out the Paradise Creek Facebook page for more information. 

There is still time to register to volunteer at the Paradise Creek site on Coastal Cleanup Day. Head over to to sign up at Paradise Creek or one of the other 100+ cleanup sites in San Diego County for Coastal Cleanup Day and be a part of this international day of action!


Registration Open for 33rd Annual Coastal Cleanup Day

Get registered today at!

Registration officially is open for San Diego County’s Coastal Cleanup Day! While the name Coastal Cleanup Day suggests that this cleanup is all about the beach, many of you already know ILACSD’s volunteer efforts reach far beyond the coast. With eighty percent of marine debris originating in inland areas, at ILACSD we have expanded our Coastal Cleanup Day reach to include both inland and coastal territory. This year, sixty-five percent of the cleanup sites are located inland along rivers, creeks, canyons, and urban areas with the aim to stop debris before it makes its way to the ocean. We even have 3 clean ups happening on the water with kayaks! With 114 cleanup sites last year, volunteers removed 185,000 pounds of debris from San Diego County – the equivalent weight of 10 garbage trucks! Help us remove even more trash and debris and beautify our county by getting registered for this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day on September 16, 2017, from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM! Get registered now at!

Cut back on waste by bringing your own reusable buckets, work gloves, and water bottle if you have them!

In an effort to reduce waste produced by an event of this size, Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers can pledge to bring at least one reusable item to the cleanup. When volunteers bring their own reusable water bottle, work gloves, and bucket to collect litter, they prevent thousands of single-use bags and disposable gloves from entering San Diego’s landfills. When you register, please consider pledging to bring one of these items with you (or all three)! Once again, we will be having our “Bling Your Bucket” competition for Coastal Cleanup Day. Participants have the opportunity to decorate their reusable buckets showing off their creativity and imagination and submit photos of for the chance to win fun prizes and have their picture posted on the Coastal Cleanup Day website for one year! Volunteers of all ages are also encouraged to participate!

Participate in the Sony Photo Contest for the chance to win a Point & Shoot Camera!

The Sony Photo Contest is also returning to Coastal Cleanup Day! While you spend the morning helping to preserve our environment, snap some pictures of all of your hard work! After attending Coastal Cleanup Day, participants can submit their best photo from the event into the competition where the top five finalists will be put to a vote on the ILACSD Facebook page. The winner will receive a Sony Point and Shoot Camera!

We also collect valuable data about the debris collection that helps us understand how we can better prevent litter. Instead of using paper data cards, ILACSD is asking volunteers to download the Ocean Conservancy’s user-friendly mobile data collection app, Clean Swell, onto their smartphones as another way to cut back on waste.

Bring the whole family and join us for Coastal Cleanup Day on September 16th!

Not only will we be removing litter on Coastal Cleanup Day, the event also includes beautification projects such as graffiti removal and replacement of invasive species with drought-tolerant alternatives. Volunteers who signup will work with ILACSD to preserve and enhance San Diego for current and future generations to enjoy. Leading the way to a zero waste, litter-free, and environmentally engaged San Diego region, ILACSD encourages all community members to take action in their neighborhood by joining us on September 16th. Registration information and details regarding Coastal Cleanup Day can be found at


Introducing Grace! Educator & Ocean Aficionado

We’re excited to welcome Grace as our newest educator!  Get to know Grace and what fuels her passion for the environment by reading our brief Q&A.

What brought you to ILACSD?

When Grace isn’t in the office or the classroom, you’ll find her scuba diving, stand up paddle boarding and all around enjoying the ocean that she cares so passionately about.

I was very excited to begin working at ILACSD as an Environmental Educator because it allows me to combine my interests in Marine Biology and the ocean with my passion for teaching and conservation. From a young age, I was always inspired by the ocean and could spend hours looking at sea stars in the tide pools. However, it wasn’t until my college internships with Heal the Bay that I realized it was something I wanted to help protect.

During my very first Coastal Cleanup Day I was given the unique opportunity to do an underwater SCUBA diving cleanup under the Santa Monica Pier. We pulled out cell phones, cameras, bike tires, fishing line, and beach toys, just to name a few. Not only did we find trash, but we also found animals, including crabs and sea hares, living among the trash. Seeing how these animals’ lives had become so impacted with this trash was the moment that I knew I wanted to help make a difference. And by working for ILACSD, I get to make that difference by inspiring environmental stewardship in students throughout the county.

Ocean acidification, caused by excess CO2 being absorbed into the ocean, makes it difficult for corals and oysters to make their shells.

What environmental topics are you most passionate about?

If it wasn’t already obvious, I’m extremely passionate about anything that has to do with the ocean. As an avid scuba diver, and someone who loves experiencing nature. One topic that is close to my heart is ocean acidification. Ocean acidification makes it exceptionally difficult for calcifying organisms (corals, krill, oysters, etc.) to make their shells. It is caused from excess CO2 in the atmosphere being absorbed into the ocean. By teaching students about how we contribute to environmental issues, it gives them the power to make positive changes that lessen their impact on our ecosystems.

What is your most recent environmental goal?

Even during my short time working at ILACSD, I have learned so much about trash. I recently learned $1 of every $10 spent goes towards packaging that is thrown away. My most recent goal has been to buy food with less packaging. This means buying different food items, going to different stores, and making sure fruits and veggies are a big part of my everyday diet.

What do you enjoy most about being an environmental educator?

Grace engaging students in a discussion about how litter impacts marine animals. The jar she is holding includes bottle caps, a lighter and other debris that was found in an albatross’s stomach.

I thoroughly enjoy interacting with the students that I am teaching! It is fun to experience their personalities as I present and discuss important issues with them. By helping them to see another perspective on the world, they can have a better appreciation for nature, which inspires them to protect it.

Do you have a favorite presentation?

One of my favorite presentations is our Enviroscape presentation, which uses a model of city along with sprinkles to represent different types of pollution. It really allows the students to visualize how pollution can make its way to the ocean and impact the animals that live there. Typically we do this presentation with 3rd graders, which is a really fun age because they are all extremely excited to share their ideas and own experiences.

I also really enjoy presenting our watershed program to AP Environmental Science classes because it allows me to use my background in science to incorporate higher level topics such as ocean acidification and eutrophication.

For more information about our presentations, email our Educator Manager at!

Join Grace & the rest of ILACSD team in our efforts to keep San Diego, and the Pacific Ocean, clean and beautiful. Our next cleanup is on December 5th at Black Mountain Ranch – click here to learn more!

Also, if you’re interested in joining the ILACSD team, check out our open positions and internship opportunities



From intern to director to goodbye

morgan team15 v2Today’s blog comes from one of I Love A Clean San Diego’s most tenured staff members, Morgan Justice Black, who is saying goodbye after working at ILACSD for almost a decade. Below, she reflects on her time with the organization. 

In June 2006, George W. Bush was the president, the World Cup was being played in Germany, the Disney film Cars was released, and I responded to a Craiglist posting for an unpaid internship with I Love A Clean San Diego. I’m not sure how much competition I had, but I landed the internship and my story with I Love A Clean San Diego began.

After a few months, I got lucky and my supervisor moved on. Again, somehow I landed her job and became the organization’s Volunteer & Events Coordinator at the ripe old age of 22. The best part of this gig…I was getting paid! I took the reins just in time for our biggest event of the year, the 22nd Annual Coastal Cleanup Day where I had to rub elbows with the likes of Supervisor Pam Slater Price and my childhood crush, local meteorologist Loren Nancarrow.

Here I am, the first photo of me on the job at Coastal Cleanup Day 2006. I don't look frantic at all...
Here I am, the first photo of me on the job at Coastal Cleanup Day 2006.

After a year on the job, I convinced my boss Pauline that we needed more help, so we hired someone even younger than me! Fresh out of college, Natalie arrived and became my right hand woman and still to this day Natalie and Pauline are key ingredients in the secret sauce that is ILACSD. I became the Outreach Director and tried the best I could to be involved in pretty much everything with ILACSD. I helped to orchestrate annual Halloween costume parties and earned the title of craziest office cat lady, as I fed the ever-growing pack of feral kittens. As the unofficial “jill of all trades” at ILACSD in those days, I got a lot of great experience doing a little of everything!



Those cats and I had a very special relationship. So special in fact that I would climb out of my office window to spend some quality time with them on my lunch break.
Those cats and I had a very special relationship. So special in fact that I would climb out of my office window to spend some quality time with them on my lunch break.

I learned how to maximize storage in our external storage unit, do dishes in the bathroom sink, and haggle for an office truck. I also learned the value of collaboration, and through new partnerships we began working closely with other nonprofits and companies to expand our programs.

2010 was a big year for me, and for ILACSD. We restructured and I became the Director of Development & Marketing. We also moved, saying goodbye to the office kitties, and hello to our current digs in Liberty Station. Over the years, I’ve written hundreds of grants, coordinated thousands of volunteers, been on tv too many times to count, had 5 different titles and attended 10 Coastal Cleanup Days – which just happen to always fall on my birthday weekend.

One of my proudest moments - getting ILACSD a truck for not a penny more than we wanted to pay for it!
One of my proudest moments – getting ILACSD a truck for not a penny more than we wanted to pay for it!

In fact, in 2013, I celebrated by 30th birthday at Coastal Cleanup Day with the ILACSD team, my family, a few elected officials and hundreds of volunteers. They actually sang happy birthday to me after Supervisor Cox announced over the microphone that it was my 30th birthday!

My 30th Birthday Party Posse at Coastal Cleanup Day!
My 30th Birthday Party Posse at Coastal Cleanup Day!

In addition to my “day job”, ILACSD has allowed me the flexibility to pursue my passion for volunteering in the community. With their support, I spent a number of years volunteering with the Junior League of San Diego and five years ago became a member of Women Give San Diego. I’ve been able to transfer skills from volunteering into the workplace and vis versa. And I’ve been able to fulfill my desire for constant civic engagement.

This week, after more than nine years and countless chapters, the story is coming to an end, as I say goodbye to the place that I’ve spend more time in than anywhere else in my adult life. I’ve developed many friendships, countless skills, but most importantly, I’ve grown into an adult under ILACSD’s watch. I’m sad to say goodbye, but I’m happy that ILACSD has instilled in me the confidence to go after a new opportunity in which I will continue to make San Diego a better place.

Thanks to all of you who have been a part of my journey over the last decade. It’s been quite a ride!


Staff with Mannequin


Preliminary CCD Results are in!

The dynamic duo, Lexi & Moriah!

Today’s blog comes from our Community Program Coordinator and co-Coastal Cleanup Day mastermind, Moriah Saldaña!  Over the last few month, Moriah has worked closely with our Community Program Manager, Lexi Ambrogi, to ensure that our second countywide cleanup of the year was a success. Read on to learn more about preliminary totals and view snapshots from around the county!

Vol in Action - Moonlight
Counting all those cigarette butts and bottle caps, although tedious, makes a huge impact worldwide!

The results are still coming in from Coastal Cleanup Day,
but one thing is for sure, Coastal Cleanup Day was an enormous hit! Whether our volunteers were at the beach picking up litter, removing graffiti in their local neighborhoods, or removing invasive plants from canyons, we know that San Diegans are now able to enjoy more than 100 clean outdoor spaces free of litter!

Coastal Cleanup Day in San Diego is part of a statewide and international cleanup effort to restore coastlines across the globe. The effort is coordinated statewide by the California Coastal Commission and internationally by The Ocean Conservancy. While international totals for 2015 are not available yet, in 2014, 560,000 volunteers in 91 countries picked up more than 16 million pounds of trash!

Volunteers at Sweetwater Marsh working together to do some heavy lifting.

Our staff woke up extra early on Saturday morning to lead more than 200 volunteers in beautification projects at Emerald Hills Park in Encanto.  While the focus of the morning was on various planting and mulching projects, volunteers cleared out over 2,700 pounds of debris!

emerald hills park - Ani
Hotline Assistant, Ani spreading mulch with a smile!

As for the county as a whole, preliminary totals for Coastal Cleanup Day – San Diego indicate that we had over 7,500 volunteers cleaning up 105 local creeks, canyons, beaches and bays as part of this event!  While the trash totals are still being compiled, we are expecting that more than 150,000 pounds of trash were removed from our county. On top of this, volunteers also beautified and restored the local environment through removing graffiti, removing invasive plants, building raised garden beds, and performing a variety of park maintenance projects.

Team Silvergate recovering items from water
Volunteers at Sun Harbor Marina didn’t stop at the sand.

Every year at this event, and at our other countywide cleanup, Creek to Bay in April, we see that cigarette butts and small plastic items are our most commonly found items.  While unfortunately this isn’t that surprising, we are often stunned by some of the more unique pieces of litter that our volunteers find.  Some of my favorites this year include a set of dentures in good shape, a full fish tank, a dragon statue and a MacBook computer.

Dentures found at Beacon’s Beach definitely made the top of the odds items list!

See more pictures from Coastal Cleanup Day and our other cleanups on Facebook and Instagram!

Looking to join us at our next event? We have a quite a few volunteer opportunities coming up. Click here for more information on how to get involved!