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!


COME TOGETHER: Kids’ Ocean Day 2017

I Love A Clean San Diego once again partnered with the California Coastal Commission for our 19th annual Kids’ Ocean Day. On May 18, 2017, over 900 students, teachers, and volunteers united together to clean up Mission Beach and the surrounding area. These dedicated 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders rallied together from 7 local schools to protect our oceans by collecting thousands of pieces of litter and marine debris. Common items found during the cleanup included small pieces of plastic, snack wrappers, straws, and Styrofoam. The students’ cooperative energy and childlike verve were tangible on the beach that day.

Students from Porter Elementary show off the waste they collected and their shirts decorated with this year’s theme – COME TOGETHER.
Students from Porter Elementary show off the waste they collected and their shirts decorated with this year’s theme – COME TOGETHER.

Following the cleanup, students united with community volunteers to form an aerial art image. One of the most common questions we receive is, “how do you make the aerial art happen?” Here’s a peek behind the curtain:

Each year, I Love A Clean San Diego’s education department designs an aerial art image that follows the statewide theme for all 5 Kids’ Ocean Day partners. On the day of the event, the ILACSD aerial art team assembles before daybreak to produce the much-anticipated image. Equipped with irrigation flags, surveyor’s tape, and extra-long measuring tapes, our amazing staff spend the wee hours of the morning meticulously plotting each and every point of the aerial artwork image. This year’s theme – COME TOGETHER – draws on the power we have when united in our efforts to protect and defend the oceans and coastlines from pollution.

As students began to file into the formation, anticipation was high; everyone was excited to see the helicopter fly overhead, photographer inside, capturing our hard work from the sky. It was a gratifying moment to see all the students, teachers, volunteers, and staff sit in stillness within the image for 10 brief minutes. After months of planning, we were all rewarded with a powerful piece of art so vast it can only be seen from the sky.KAAB2017finalimage

The success of the day could be measured by the faces of the beaming students. They felt a sense of accomplishment from doing their part to help clean up the environment. The students now stand united as true “Scholars for the Sea!”

Kids’ Ocean Day is a magnificent event that helps to bring environmental awareness and stewardship to the forefront of these students’ minds. It is a day of joining forces and demonstrating to the kids what it means to work together as one. The students walked away from Kids’ Ocean Day feeling empowered and armed with the understanding that their personal choices have power and their everyday actions will impact our environment and our future.



Let’s all be Gleaning Machines

Gleaning Canva GraphicNo there isn’t a typo in the title, gleaning is a real technique that helps minimize food waste and hunger. What is it? It’s a  practice, used for hundreds of years, that seeks to reduce the amount of food that is wasted because it is not visually appealing. Gleaners harvest the crops that are not used by farmers and deliver them to those in need.

Linda Trozer, a member of the Society of St. Andrew, explains the unbelievable reality of agricultural food waste in the U.S. today.  Food is wasted at a disturbingly high rate, “The statistics are that 96 billion pounds of food are left — this is pre-consumer food — to go to waste in this country.”

What does this have to do with the average American family? The answer is food deserts. Millions of Americans are living in these areas that are lacking in cost-friendly, nutritious food.

Food Desert Infogrpahic

By throwing away edible food for superficial reasons, farmers prevent access to fresh fruits and veggies for thousands of Americans and contribute to the food desert epidemic. Naked Juice produced an interesting documentary about food deserts and their effect on American neighborhoods.

Gleaning provides an excellent solution to the this problem. If it sounds like something you might want to participate in, check out local organizations such as San Diego Roots and Crop Swap  for upcoming events. Whether you are a farmer or a novice gardener, anyone can play a role in reducing food waste by gleaning or distributing gleaned produce.

Let’s glean the food waste away one lemon tree at a time!

If you want to learn more about the gleaning process and other food waste reduction practices,check out our past blog about gleaning and I Love A Clean San Diego’s recycling website. We can all be lean green gleaning machines! 


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”.

spanish landing - brendan reed (1)
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!

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!





Hundreds attend kickoff event at Dixon Lake

Here at I Love A Clean San Diego, we like to make it as easy as possible for people to volunteer with us. That’s why we love our Adopt-A-Beach and Adopt-A-Canyon programs—people can schedule beach or canyon cleanups any day of the year, and we provide all of the cleanup supplies for free.

Thanks to a grant from the Escondido Charitable Foundation, we are now able to bring this program to two sites in Escondido—Dixon Lake and Kit Carson Park. These are the first adoptable sites in inland North County, and we’re thrilled to have this program as an option for people who live far from the nearest adoptable beach.

This past weekend, we hosted a kickoff event to officially launch the program. We invited volunteers to join us at Dixon Lake in northeastern Escondido.

And we sure did kick off this program with a bang! A grand total of 402 volunteers collected 348 pounds of trash and recycling from around the lake and nearby Daley Ranch hiking trails. Here’s a recap of how the event unfolded.


Our volunteers listen attentively to the kickoff and safety talk from Lexi, our Development Manager. She covered topics like how trash travels through the community, why cleanups are important, and local recycling rules. She also talked about how to get involved with the newly launched Adopt-A-Canyon program in Escondido. Some of these volunteers have already signed up online and scheduled their next Escondido cleanups!


A team from the Division 37 East Key Club paused for a photo in front of scenic Dixon Lake. Throughout the morning, lake visitors thanked our volunteers for helping to keep the park clean and litter-free!


Miles of trails run along the lake, so our volunteers were able to spread out and cover a lot of ground. Here, a team from North Coast Church walked along one of the lake trails hunting for litter with our trash grabber and bucket in hand!

You never know what you’ll find at our cleanup events! This young volunteer wins our Most Unusual Item prize for finding this full bottle of sparkling cider. Here’s to you!

We weigh all of the trash and recycling collected at our cleanups as a way of measuring our impact and accomplishments. When volunteers use their own buckets instead of single-use plastic bags, we simply subtract the weight of the empty bucket to determine the weight of the trash. The buckets get emptied right into the dumpster—no single-use plastics needed!

A big thanks to this massive volunteer team from UCSD’s Upward Bound program. We love working with big groups like this one to get a lot accomplished at our events. These young students were a huge help!

Interested in adopting one of these sites? Visit to learn more and to schedule your own cleanups. We can provide a free educational presentation to kick off your first cleanup, and if you complete three cleanups over the course of a year, you can apply to have your group’s name posted on a sign on site.

We’ll be back at Dixon Lake, as well as at four other Escondido sites, for our big countywide event, the Creek to Bay Cleanup, on Saturday, April 23rd from 9AM-12PM. Registration opens April 1st at!



Moriah bridges love for craft beer & the environment

Mo brewing beerToday’s blog comes from our Community Program Coordinator, Moriah as she shares her love for San Diego craft beer and our environment!

I am known as the resident beer nerd at I Love a Clean San Diego.  After working at a local brewery for about a year and brewing at home, it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about beer.  One thing I didn’t know, however, was how connected my love of beer was to my love for the environment.  In a city like San Diego, it’s not surprising that our local breweries value our environment as much as they value their craft.

Ways SD breweries minimize waste

Water conservation is a big issue for everyone in California, and that includes craft breweries.  The industry average in California ranges from 3.5 to 6 gallons of water for every gallon of beer produced.  Breweries in San Diego are leading the way in reducing the amount of water needed for their production.  Local breweries are becoming increasingly water-wise.  According to the California Craft Brewers Association, Ballast Point has reduced its water use by more than 24 percent, and Stone Brewing Company recycles more than 62 percent of its water daily.

One of the biggest ways that local breweries reduce waste is by using their spent grain in creative ways.  Spent grain is the grain left over after the brewing process.  Instead of throwing this used grain in the landfill, most of San Diego’s breweries donate it to local farms, where it can be used as livestock feed.  Stone Brewing Company even uses it as a mulching tool in their garden.  Some of their spent grain goes towards locally made soaps and dog treats as well!

Hop farm
Hop farm picture is Jordan Brownwood tending hops at Nopalito Farm & Hopyard. Photo credit:

San Diego is known for its hop-heavy beers, but did you know that farms right here in San Diego County grow one of beer’s most important ingredients? Nopalito Farms is a local, family-run organic hopyard and orchard in North County San Diego.  Since water conservation is always an issue in Southern California, Nopalito Farms has adopted sustainable farming practices like drip irrigation and mulching, and they work to maximize the rain that they get in Valley Center.

Imbibe with the earth in mind!

  • Bring a growler with you next time you pick up beer. Instead of cans or glass bottles that will end up in your blue bin, get a reusable growler and take it to the closest brewery.  Get fresh, draft beer straight from the source! Be sure to check with the brewery first to see if they have any specific growler policies.
  • Reuse old beer or wine bottles to make decorations for your house. At our recent Sustainable Living Workshop that focuses on a zero waste home, our educators taught attendees how to reuse their old bottles and turn them into fashionable home decorations.

    Zero Waste Home - Jan 2016 (29)
    One example of a  repurposed wine bottle from our Zero Waste Home Workshop.

Volunteer at Cupid’s Cleanup!

If all of this beer talk has you thirsty, you can join us and Benchmark Brewing Company on Saturday, February 13th from 10am-12pm for a cleanup of the San Diego River! Why not switch up the typical dinner and a movie Valentine’s Day date and help us clean up the San Diego River instead. Then, if this blog has inspired you to try some local San Diego suds, you can join us afterward for a Valentine’s Day-themed mixer hosted by Benchmark Brewing Company! Families, sweethearts, kids, and singles are all welcome.

Register here! Help us spread the word by joining the Facebook event and sharing the cleanup with your friends and family. 

cupids instagram


Recycling brings hope to hospitals around the world

Ani_team15Today’s blog comes from our Hotline Assistant, Ani who enjoys finding recycling resources for even the toughest items and providing those resources to residents across San Diego County. Over the last few months, Ani has developed a strong relationship with Laura Luxemburg, the founder of one of the most unique services in our database, SSubi is Hope. Read on to learn about how Laura and her team of volunteers work to provide medical supplies to those in need around the world. 

The organization SSubi Is Hope collects surplus medical supplies and equipment that is in good condition from  local hospitals, doctors’ offices, hospice care, as well as individual residents to help divert these materials from local landfills. The organization then sends these supplies to medical centers around the world that have limited access to these supplies. Right away I was intrigued by the organization’s mission and thought this was a great way to divert resources from landfills while helping others in need.

Wheel chairs, walkers, and crutches are some of the top donated items. If you have gently used supplies, consider donating them to Ssubi is Hope.

In just a short amount of time, the organization has received two awards from the City of San Diego, had a day named after the organization, and has diverted 800,000 lbs. of medical equipment and supplies that otherwise may have ended up in a landfill. Led by Laura Luxemburg, SSubi Is Hope receives medical items such as wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers and is completely volunteer-driven.

Ssubi is Hope also accepts e-waste including computers & other electronics.

Recently, SSubi is Hope has also tacked on electronic waste to their services.  The organization is accepting electronic waste from residents and businesses at no cost to offset the overhead costs and to continue collecting items from hospitals, doctors offices, home care/hospice patients. I met with Laura at the new SSubi Is Hope facility in Miramar to find out a bit more about the organization.

What is “SSubi is Hope” and what does the organization do? How did you get involved or interested in these types of issues?

“The organization is called SSubi is Hope; SSubi means “hope” in Luganda (major language in Uganda) and it started out when I just wanted to make a difference and let my kids know that you didn’t have to be a rock star or movie star to make a difference in this world, you can be a soccer mom. So it began when we started helping a medical center in Uganda and out of our need for medical supplies and equipment, I started wondering, “Where was our old stuff going?” So I started calling hospitals, talking to nurses and they said a lot of this stuff was ending in the landfills.  They said no for a year and then right before Christmas 2013 I met up with Environmental Management System Coordinator, Jean Parkinson from the VA Hospital…the VA Hospital became the first hospital partner in March 7th, 2014. From there we have collected over 85,000 lbs of medical supplies and equipment and diverted it from the landfill.”

Laura Luxemburg standing alongside donated materials at Ssubi is Hope’s new warehouse in Miramar!

How fast has the organization expanded since it first started?

“Our goal originally was to send supplies to Uganda and spread out from there but also share with other countries and small organizations. Recently, we have partnered with ALS Association to help provide beds to their patients because the quality of the beds they get are very simple and they need something that is more advanced, so we are able to fill  in that gap.”

How does this partnership with I Love A Clean San Diego benefit your organization?

“SSubi is very community-based; we can’t do this project without the community getting involved. We are very big on collaborations because together we are strong. People that are looking for volunteer experiences, have medical supplies, have a home care issue or know a doctor who can share this information with their facilities; let’s get together and make a difference.”

Sealed bandages, gauze and other supplies are also accepted and are sent to needy hospitals around the world!

Lastly, how can community members help or get involved?

“We have a new space in Miramar and we are hoping that this is a good location for volunteers to come. There is a never ending supply of things to sort and separate so volunteer opportunities are going to be the longevity of this program.”

For more information about the organization visit, or to donate e-waste search