Beach Cleanups Exposed: The Ocean Conservancy’s 25 Year Report on Marine Debris

Coastkeeper loves beach cleanups.

coastal-cleanup-day-san-diegoWe host at the very least two beach cleanups a month.  Aside from the obvious—we want beautiful beaches and healthy oceans—why?  So much more rides on these cleanups.  Ocean Conservancy just published a report titled “Talking Trash: 25 Years of Action for the Ocean,” which provides a 25-year look at the trash and other marine debris found on beaches and in the water. It is intended to educate the public and leaders in government and industry to make strides in preventing marine debris from choking our ocean and waterways.  Thus giving a broader perspective on why cleanups can influence political, industrial and social change.

The report is based on data collected over the past 25 years from Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC).  ICC is the largest volunteer effort for the ocean, bringing out hundreds of thousands of volunteers from around the world to remove millions of pounds of trash and debris from beaches, lakes and waterways while recording every piece of trash that is found.  Alongside monthly, sponsored, and beach cleanups in a box, Coastkeeper works with I Love a Clean San Diego to host Coastal Cleanup Day in San Diego County, which serves as a significant source of statistical information for this global effort, as well as a wonderful event to spread awareness and remove pollution in San Diego.  The data from the cleanups is collected and analyzed to give insight into the global problem of marine debris.  
What sets these cleanups apart is the strictly regimented counting of each item that is collected from the cleanup.  Each volunteer is trained and made responsible for recording exactly what is found.  This is the crucial step to why the cleanups are a necessary element of ocean pollution prevention.

Because of the data collected at the annual Coastal Cleanup Day and Coastkeeper’s monthly cleanups, we have a clear idea of the specific items and products affecting our oceans and waterways, thus facilitating creation of preventative programs and strategies.  This information helps us educate our government and community, so we can work together on the solutions.  Ocean Conservancy and Coastkeeper use similar data collecting procedures; Coastkeeper keeps track of every piece of trash collected at any of our beach cleanups by distributing data cards or itemized lists for volunteers to keep a tally of apprehended items.  The 25-year report recorded that over the past 25 years, 9 million volunteers in 150+ countries picked up 166 million pieces of trash across just under 300,000 miles; which provides the first ever analysis of long-term trends.

Read the beach cleanup report.  And get involved to make a difference in San Diego and join us for a beach cleanup.

Published in Marine Debris

Whole Food Donates for Clean Beaches

If you’ve ever considered stocking up on supplies, do it APRIL 6 at the Hillcrest Whole Foods. You never know when disaster might strike!  It’s best to stay safe with tons of vitamins and canned organic soups stocked deep in your cupboards.

Why April 6?  Well, Whole Foods is making good on their commitment to their community and the environment by donating 5% of their sales to Coastal Cleanup Day .

Coastal Cleanup Day is an event held every September that unites more than 10,000 San Diego volunteers at 85 coastal and inland sites to round trash across the county.  In 2010 over 148,000 lbs of garbage was intercepted before hitting the ocean. San Diego Coastkeeper and I Love A Clean San Diego , two leading San Diego environmental nonprofits, in partnership with the California Coastal Commission, organize this massive grassroots event to engage individual communities in the protection of their local “backyard;” whether that be a beach, a creek, or a street with storm drains that drain to the ocean.

Apparently enough shoppers and employees have expressed concern for San Diego beaches, because Whole Foods reached out to Coastkeeper to get involved.  Then again, Whole Foods is not your average grocery store.  Yes, they are a “chain” business, but what sets them apart is their common commitment to their local community and real concern for the environment.  The market was founded on a set of core values that keeps each store accountable and responsible to their greater, holistic goal of keeping their community healthy.  CCDcleanup2_MeierOne of the ways they show how they care is by reaching out to local organizations and giving a minimum of 5% of their profits every year to support their neighborly non-profits.  Whole Foods has been donating to the Coastal Cleanup Day for the past 5 years, allowing the event to have a greater impact by preventing marine debris from entering our waterways.

In supporting Whole Foods on Wednesday April 6, you will really be investing in a cleaner San Diego.  When you buy your Earth Day party favors or Coachella snacks, your money will go further than the expiration dates on your perishables.  It will be supporting the beaches that you love to frolic on and the sea you dip in.  Give back with Whole Foods this month and help make the 2011 Coastal Cleanup Day a WHOLE lot better!

Published in Marine Debris

Its A Skipper’s Life For Me

It has been seven months since I started at Coastkeeper, and it’s cool to look back and think how excited I was to start working for such an amazing organization. Back then, I think the part of my job that I was most excited about was having access to the Coastkeeper boat, and 19’ Boston Whaler, called Clean Sweep. Being new to boating in San Diego myself, I was stoked to meet our only volunteer boat captain, Kevin Straw, and have him show me around San Diego Bay and learn about all the great work  Coastkeeper had done before I arrived. I had visions of scoping out pollution incidents , taking pictures and video, testing water quality samples in our lab, working with our legal team to start a lawsuit against the vile polluters, testifying in court, and bringing justice to our local environment and community.


 I also saw us using our boat to talk to the San Diego boating community  about how they can help to keep our bays and ocean clean. San Diego could become the leader in eco-friendly boating practices. Boaters in San Diego are after all enjoying the clean water we all help to protect. We could cruise through marinas, yacht clubs, regattas, and anchorages talking about how people can properly pump out sewage, pump gas without polluting, scrape their hulls without shedding copper, and reporting pollution incidents themselves. We could come to be so well known in the boating community, the Port of San Diego and the San Diego Lifeguards would throw a water parade for us while boat owners rained cash donations instead of confetti upon Clean Sweep as it passed.


Ah to dream. . .

The reality is though, we’re getting closer. We have recruited two new volunteer boat captains bringing us to a total of three, we’re talking to boat owners about being eco-friendly, we’ve tested potential pollution water samples, commented on the new hull cleaning practices from the Port, and created an outreach plan for boaters in San Diego. We’re making progress, but we need your help.

If you have a Captain’s License, or 5 years of boating experience, we want you to become a volunteer Clean Sweep skipper. We’ve got ambitious plans, and the more we can get on the water, the faster we’ll finish our course.



It Takes a Village to Restore a Watershed

volunteer-city-heightsThe Pueblo Watershed is full of diversity in every form possible.  Each neighborhood that stretches along Chollas Creek includes different ethnicities, religions, cultures, music and food.  Whether you’re crossing from North Park to City Heights, or South Park to Barrio Logan, traveling a few blocks in any direction brings you to a completely different community.

Just like the diversity of the people, the watershed encompasses all kinds of ecological communities.  Salt marshes and tidal creeks near San Diego Bay transition to riparian streams which spread into coastal sage scrub and chaparral communities in the finger canyons.  And to me, the true beauty of this watershed is how it provides pockets of nature for the communities to enjoy.  The Pueblo Watershed is very densely populated, and the creeks and canyons provide pockets of nature for tons of people to enjoy.

Because it’s such a densely populated watershed, the creeks and canyons are threatened by trash, polluted water, invasive plants and even illegal activities. The canyons often provide cover for drug use, homeless encampments and gang violence.

walk-watershedOn February 5, more than 300 community members volunteered for the 3rd annual Walk the Watershed. Volunteers took educational tours to learn about the local ecology and volunteered for a variety of projects including cleaning out over 1000 pounds of trash, planting native plants, removing invasive plants and creating a rainwater capture system for the local elementary school. The event wrapped up with a tamale lunch, an address from Councilmember Tony Young and a dance performance from local students.

The event was a huge success, and like the diversity that makes up the watershed, it took a diverse group of community organizations coming together to have such a positive impact.  We partnered and planned the event with Ocean Discovery Institute, Elementary Institute of Science, Outside the Lens, Transcendance, San Diego Canyonlands and the City Heights Canyon and Community Alliance.  We had a bunch of community groups that brought students and volunteers from throughout the watershed.

The event wouldn’t be possible without the support of all the funders. For us, we owe a huge thanks to Think Blue, City of San Diego and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

The spark that lights the San Diego water quality monitoring fire


Amanda, Chris and Taya test for pollution in water samples from throughout the region.

The third Saturday morning of the month is one of those times that I always look forward to on the calendar.  While I’m sure most of the world is pumped for some college football, turning on their favorite cartoon or gearing up for some fun weekend adventure, I’m firing up my Vespa and charging full throttle from PB, past Mission Bay, over the Ingraham Bridge, and past those “adult establishments” on Sports Arena Boulevard.

I always smile as I swing a hard left into the Einstein’s Bros. Bagels on the corner of Midway and Rosecrans because I know my friend Debbie is waiting with the two giant bags of bagels she donates every month to the volunteers in our Water Quality Monitoring program.  They are always super fresh, tasty and chocked full of carbs to fuel our volunteer’s adventures through San Diego’s major watersheds.

I stuff a few bagel bites (the cinnamon are my favorite) in my mouth, hop back on the Vespa and fly down to Liberty Station where another tasty treat awaits. Starbucks of Liberty Station on Truxtun Road is always on board to support the cause, and Elaina and crew always have a carrier or two of coffee ready and fresh from the press for our volunteers.  I grab an americano for the road, the caffeine kicks in and I get prepped for our amazing team of volunteers to arrive.  

I know how much the coffee and bagels help me get fired up for the day, and I know our volunteers feel the same way.  The San Diego Coastkeeper team knows how important it is to monitor San Diego water quality for pollution, and it’s great to have community businesses that feel the same way.

Thanks so much to Starbucks and Einstein Bros!

Coastkeeper Honors Volunteer of the Year, Hall of Fame Volunteers

{gallery}galleries/Volunteer Appreciation Party 2010:400:300:1:2{/gallery}We couldn’t have hoped for a better setting to induct our first class into the San Diego Coastkeeper Volunteer Hall of Fame.  With sweeping views of San Diego Bay, Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean, our staff spent the afternoon at Kate Sessions Park inducting a truly deserving group into eternal glory and fame. . . at least in our minds.

The first group of volunteers inducted was our Water Quality Monitoring Volunteer Hall of Fame, which is made up of volunteers that have been active for over a year in collecting samples, testing for pollutants and analyzing results in our lab. This group dedicates one or two full days per month to provide water quality data that will ultimately lead to the cleanup of our local watersheds. We couldn’t be happier to induct these amazing people to our first class:


William “Skip” Price
Adam Taylor
Adrian Kinnane
Al Barret
Amanda Sousa
Beth Hendershot
Bruce Hendershot
Cathryn Henning
Cynthia Gorham
Debby Knight
Dan Murphy
Frank Kawasaki
Graham Szybala
George Liddle
Jack Marshall
Jim Brown
Kacey Cinciarelli
Karen Waggoner
Rebecca Kanter
Rexanne Dayes
Rob Park
Sierra Basegio
Steve Kwik
Sandi Jacobson
Taya Lazootin
Tom Bernitt

Our second group, the San Diego Coastkeeper Volunteer Hall of Fame, is made up of our outstanding Volunteer Core members, our beach cleanup leaders and lead Volunteer Boat Captain.  While this group varies in terms of their support for San Diego Coastkeeper’s mission, they all share the commitment to protecting our inland and coastal waters. We are very excited to induct the following members:

Amanda Sousa
Megan Stone
Sierra Basegio
Taya Lazootin
James Sebree
Rebecca Kanter
Kevin Straw


Amanda Sousa, our first ever Volunteer of the Year, accepts her honorary prize of two limited edition San Diego Coastkeeper champagne glasses. Will you volunteer in time to get yours?

And, of course, a volunteer party wouldn’t be complete without the first ever Volunteer of the Year Award. Amanda Sousa, a true community leader, is our most deserving winner.  Read more about all Amanda’s endeavors here.

We’d like to thank our generous sponsors, Burger Lounge in Little Italy for the burgers, Alaskan Brewing Co. and Coastal CODE for the beer, and Keg N Bottle for the ice, keg pump, and cooler.  It’s great to have community businesses that recognize how much our volunteers contribute to accomplishing our mission.

Inspired to join the team?  Contact me, Dylan, our Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, to learn more about volunteering in San Diego for the region’s leading organization dedicated to protecting our waters.



Do clean water issues cut right to your “Core”?



Join San Diego Coastkeeper’s Amazing Volunteer Core

If you’re reading this article, something about San Diego Coastkeeper intrigues you.  And how could it not?

We tackle everything from marine conservation, reducing marine debris, eliminating urban runoff, educating our community about the importance of clean and healthy waterways and everything else related to water in San Diego.

And if you’ve browsed the website, you’re probably also thinking you should thank your lucky stars San Diego has an awesome organization like this to protect our quality of life.

But even with a team of educators, scientists, lawyers, volunteers, and members, we still can’t do it all. . . and this is where you come in:

Join our Volunteer Core starting on Wednesday, October 6.

We’ll provide you with the chance to get your hands dirty in one of our truly important campaigns. We provide a six-session training course, a chance to get to know the ins and outs of Coastkeeper’s work and the opportunity to do something outstanding for our planet and our community.  On top of all that, we provide you with a customized six-month volunteer plan that fits your interests and your time availability.

And the best thing about dedicating your time to Coastkeeper? You have San Diego’s largest environmental non-profit at your back.  So any project you take on, you have those 17 full-time professional scientists, lawyers and educators, plus our current Volunteer Core, helping you make the most of your time and energy.

Oh, and one more thing, you have me, Dylan Edwards, our full time Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, to make sure your volunteer experience is everything it can be.

Email or call me (619.758.7743 x 131). I can’t wait to hear from you.