Get a free oil filter and save our local environment!

BLopez_teamToday’s post comes from ILACSD’s Hotline Assistant, Barbara Lopez!

Many of us know that it is important to recycle used motor oil, but did you know that recycling the oil filter is just as important? One used oil filter contains about 10 ounces of used oil, even after draining, and therefore should not be thrown in the trash. By recycling your oil filter, you prevent used oil from entering our landfills, our water supply, and our environment. Also, recycling an oil filter keeps about one pound of reusable steel from going to the landfill. According to CalRecycle, if each oil filter sold in California was recycled, nearly 67 million pounds of steel would be diverted from landfills; that’s enough steel to build three large sports stadiums!

oilfilterflyerTo encourage residents to recycle their old oil filters, the County of San Diego, Department of Public Works and I Love A Clean San Diego will be holding oil filter exchange events on March 23, 2013. Residents of the unincorporated county can visit one of the participating AutoZone locations, bring in a used filter and receive a new one free. In addition to oil filters, residents can also bring in up to five gallons of uncontaminated used motor oil to recycle.

If you are unable to attend these events, there are other options available to properly recycle used oil filters and motor oil. Some communities offer a free home pick up of used motor oil and filters. Also, there are nearly 300 Certified Used Oil Collection Centers in San Diego County that accept up to five gallons of uncontaminated used motor oil; many of these collection centers will also accept oil filters for recycling. If you have motor oil that is contaminated or more than five gallons of uncontaminated motor oil, visit a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility for proper disposal. To see if free home pick up of used motor oil is available in your community or to find a Certified Collection Center near you, visit

Upcoming Oil Filter Exchange Events
All events will be held on Saturday March 23, 2013 from 10am-2pm. Limit one free filter per person. Free offer valid during specified date, time, and location.

AutoZone at 1081 S. Mission Ave., Fallbrook 92028

AutoZone at 12421 Woodside Ave., Lakeside 92040

AutoZone at 370 Pala St., Ramona 92065

Spring Valley
AutoZone at 699 Sweetwater Rd., Spring Valley 91977
AutoZone at 9710 Campo Rd., Spring Valley 91978

To find out about additional recycling events, visit today!


Meet our new Marketing Intern, Christina!

christinaToday’s post comes from ILACSD’s newest Marketing Intern, Christina Etchebarren!

Hey there readers of this blog and fans of I Love A Clean San Diego! My name is Christina, I’m the new Marketing Intern here at ILACSD and I’m so excited to be joining the team and learning from the wonderful staff and volunteers. I am a fourth year Environmental Systems major at UC San Diego, originally from a small town outside of Portland, Oregon. Growing up I’ve always been surrounded by environmentally conscientious communities, so it was no surprise that learning about and protecting our environment has turned in to a passion of mine. Letting people know about what we’re up to at ILACSD is a part of my job description and my first assignment was to attend one of our education presentations at University City High School on Tuesday, Feb. 12th.

monica_educationArriving at the high school brought back a strange wave of nostalgia for my carefree, hormone charged, rebellious teenage days and I kind of felt like never leaving. I sat myself in the back row of a marine science classroom trying to blend in inconspicuously as the students noisily settled into their seats. Monica Rosquillas, who is one of our lovely educators, introduced herself and took control of the students attention with a quickness and ease that would impress the pants off of any HS teacher I’m sure; high schoolers can be some of the most difficult crowds to reign in and she did so with confidence that can only come from plenty of experience.

monica_watershedThe presentation began with a lesson on the importance of water, which may seem obvious but sometimes all of us need a reminder about just how vital clean water is to not only our health, but the health of every living thing around us. The rest of the lesson plan was focused on watersheds, water quality and marine ecosystem health. Talking about environmental issues can be an extremely difficult task because you don’t want to come across as threatening or pessimistic and you don’t want present the problem  as overwhelmingly large or beyond help, but you do want to make it seem important and urgent enough to motivate people to care and to take action. The presentation that I Love A Clean San Diego has put together walks the line quite gracefully, and I noticed that even from the back of the classroom, all of the students seemed to stay engaged throughout the entire duration of the talk.

Stomach contents from an Albatross include plastic caps, fishing line, and even a small wooden door knob.

Monica hit the message home by passing around a jar filled with contents from an Albatross’ stomach which included a pen and several other pieces of colorful plastic, I heard murmurs of horror coming from the pupils as they passed the jar around with disgust.  To be honest, although I’ve gone through several years of environmental education throughout my time at UCSD, I learned a lot about watersheds and how important it is that we do our best to keep them clean.

All in all, I walked out of University City High School proud to be a part of such an amazing and inspiring organization and feeling hopeful for our future generations of environmental enthusiasts, and I look forward to the months ahead here at ILACSD.

You’ll hear from me soon, until next time.


Did volunteers find love at Cupid’s Cleanup?

LexiToday’s post comes from ILACSD’s Community Events Coordinator, Lexi Ambrogi!

This past weekend, ILACSD hosted an event—my personal favorite—called Cupid’s Cleanup. The grand totals are pretty impressive: 231 volunteers joined us on the lawn outside of the PB Taylor Library to do a street-sweep cleanup of Pacific Beach’s streets and alleyways—an often neglected part of this coastal community—and removed nearly 500 lbs of debris (359 lbs trash, 128 lbs recyclables) in under 2 hours.

SONY DSCVolunteers were briefed on the importance of removing trash from our communities before it reaches the ocean and becomes a serious threat to the health of our marine ecosystems. They learned how trash can travel for miles through our storm drain system and be mistaken for food by sea creatures; armed with this knowledge, they took to the streets to fill up their trash bags.

SONY DSCAs this is our take on a “singles mingle” event, we decided to have a little fun with our volunteers: everyone wrote his or her name on a nametag either in green (single and ready to mingle!) or red (already spoken for). We can’t say for sure if sparks were flying between our volunteers, but it wouldn’t be the first time—two volunteers met at this cleanup in 2007 and eventually got married!

Our staff was taken aback by the overwhelming support and gratitude we received from people in the neighborhood. We had several walk-up volunteers who saw us on the lawn and decided to join us, and lots of people were asking how they could get involved with our future events (my answer: email me!)

SONY DSCAfter the cleanup, many volunteers walked over to Typhoon Saloon to join us for an after-party, where volunteers could win prizes for guessing our trash totals for the day. You can see photos from the event in our Facebook album.

Looks like fun, right? We’re jam-packing our 2013 schedule with cleanup events, so check back often to see where we’ll be next!


Think Blue Brigade tackles storm water pollution in Market Creek

monicaToday’s post comes from ILACSD’s Environmental Educator, Monica Rosquillas!

Last week, I gladly spent my Saturday with the high school students from the Elementary Institute of Science (EIS) stenciling storm drains in the neighborhood of Market Creek. The students at EIS are part of the Think Blue Brigade, a program by Think Blue San Diego that aims to connect high school students with storm water pollution prevention.

???????????????????????????????I arrived at EIS, stenciling kits in hand, and was met by a warm group of students and their enthusiastic advisor.  Soon after, we walked out into the sunny streets of Market and Euclid, where we split up into 3 groups, each group stenciling “Don’t Dump Goes to Ocean” on 3 storm drains. While some tackled storm drains, others documented their progress, recording video and taking pictures for their end-of-the-year project.

The footage collected will be used in a video that will be showcased at the end of the year. The storm drain stenciling activity and video project fulfill 2 out of the 3 requirements of being part of the Think Blue Brigade. Having already completed the storm drain stenciling, this group of students will also participate in ILACSD’s signature cleanup event, the Creek to Bay Cleanup, held on April 27th of this year.  Then, they will have until June to finish their video on storm water pollution and Green Transportation.

thinkblue1It’s very encouraging to work with a group of high school students, like these kids, who willingly give up their Saturday mornings to come out and do an event like this. As an educator at I Love A Clean San Diego, I go to high schools all over San Diego and teach kids about pollution. So when I see them do something about it, it feels great! Overall I had a great day spreading the message of storm water pollution prevention with this awesome group of students.

If you are a high school student interested in becoming involved with the Think Blue Brigade, please contact the education department by calling (619) 291-0103 or email me at


Local Boaters Take to the Seas for Coastal Cleanup Day 2012

Adam enjoying the ocean air on his home, the Betty Jean

The main focus of Coastal Cleanup Day is picking up trash on our beaches, along local creeks and rivers, and in local canyons. But what about the trash that’s already in the water? This year we’re attacking that water-logged trash as well. Adam Hopps joins us for his first Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 15th, as the volunteer Site Captain at our Shelter Island cleanup site.

Partnering with the Silver Gate Yacht Club, Adam hopes to get local boaters involved in cleaning up areas of our waterways that aren’t accessible by foot. Using grabbers and nets, these sea lovers will cleanup trash that is already floating in the water and even use tools to absorb oil that’s floating on top of the water. But enough from us, we’ll let Adam tell you more about it…

What motivated you to volunteer as a Site Captain for Coastal Cleanup Day?

I live on a sailboat in a marina on Shelter Island. Every day I witness the effects of litter and water pollution on our Bay. On a daily basis I see trash (usually plastic bottles and bags) floating on the surface of the water in and around in the marinas, in the Bay and out in the ocean. In the marinas it’s especially bad during low tide when trash has been brought in with the tide and becomes trapped in the shallow areas and in the sand – only accessible from a water craft.

Coastal Cleanup Day is California’s largest volunteer event focused on the marine environment but up until this point boaters haven’t been extremely involved in this event. When I was approached by ILACSD to coordinate a joint land and on-the-water cleanup site, I was thrilled at the idea of engaging boaters to make a difference in our own backyards as well as expanding the reach and environmental impact of this Cleanup.

How long have you been volunteering with ILACSD?

This is my first event and I’m excited to be partnering with the Silver Gate Yacht Club who will host the meet up location.

Why is that site important to you?

Living on a boat in San Diego is a blessed life. We have a dynamic marine & aquatic community, a gorgeous Bay to sail in and beautiful weather year round. It’s really hard to see the Bay tarnished with trash and oil. Even though approximately 80% of marine debris comes from inland communities, many of it makes its way into the open water which beach cleanup volunteers simply cannot access. The boating community is a natural fit for Coastal Cleanup Day because we have access to those areas from our boats, dinghies, kayaks and docks. Also, for the first time, we’re supplying on-the-water volunteers with oil absorbent sheets to use on surface level oil slicks.

We’re immensely lucky to have a magnificent natural resource like the San Diego Bay to call home and need to do our part to conserve and protect it.

What are you most looking forward to at Coastal Cleanup Day?

I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of great people come together for a common goal. I think it’s inspiring. Also, it wouldn’t be a boater event if it wasn’t followed by a dock party!

Why do you think events like Coastal Cleanup Day are important to keeping San Diego healthy and clean?

Well, not only are tons of trash and debris collected and removed from our greatest natural areas, but the people involved become more and more aware of the harmful effects of litter and pollution and band together to make a difference. Volunteers tend to get their own families and friends involved which is why this event seems to grow every year!

What is the strangest piece of trash you’ve found out on the water?

I can’t speak for CCD, but we’ll pull trash out of the water when we’re sailing in the ocean and we’ve found half a dozen birthday helium balloons over the years.

Have you registered to volunteer at Coastal Cleanup Day yet?
Click here and sign up for any of the over 85 cleanup sites across
San Diego County!


Believe it or not, high school kids DO care about our environment!

With many students heading back to school this week and next, today’s post comes from former ILACSD Environmental Educator Alex Mullen-Ley who shares her thoughts on our High School Watershed Education program and what it’s like working with high schoolers!

Let’s be honest: high school kids have a bad reputation. When I tell people that I teach high school students about water pollution prevention, they often say something like, “I could never do that!” It’s easy to stereotype high school students as self-centered and unmotivated. In reality, the vast majority of these kids are open-minded, eager to learn, and willing to help out in their communities.

Local high school students at a recent cleanup

I Love A Clean San Diego’s high school education presentation focuses on the importance of clean water, and is designed to increase students’ knowledge of local watersheds and promote behaviors that prevent marine pollution from urban runoff.  We identify important concepts such as the water cycle, food webs, and biomagnification and relate them to real life issues. We also review the latest information about the pacific garbage patch and help students identify everyday actions they can take to keep their local watershed healthy.

In 2011, ILACSD educated over 9100 students at 36 high schools around San Diego County through this program. It can be tedious talking about the same thing for five or six class periods, but the uniqueness of the students makes each day different. Nearly all of the 9th through 12th graders that I have talked to are genuinely interested in protecting the natural environment.

More than beach cleanups, students can get community service hours doing a variety of projects

Many high schools in San Diego County now actually require community service hours to graduate. So as the educators explain how trash ends up making its way into the ocean, we offer students the chance help at one of our upcoming cleanups.  It’s a win-win situation; ILACSD has more volunteers to clean up the canyons and beaches and the students earn community service hours.

Students learn that small actions like recycling can have a big impact

The watershed education program isn’t the only way that ILACSD is trying to reach out to high school kids. We recently partnered with the City of San Diego’s Think Blue campaign to create a pilot project for high school students to become more active in preventing stormwater pollution. The program gives the students resources to design a project to increase awareness of the impacts from urban runoff on local waterways. At the end of the year we will have a celebration for participating school groups where they can show off their projects and meet other like-minded teens.

When I first realized that I was going to be teaching high school kids, I was nervous about it. I thought that they might be uninterested in the material or might even have a lack of respect for me. I was wrong to prejudge them. The students I’ve talked to as the Environmental Educator are smart, motivated, and make me feel optimistic about the future of San Diego.


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.