On April 12, San Diego Coastkeeper went on a Tijuana border tour led by WiLDCOAST’s Serge Dedina and Paloma Aguirre. The story of the day was the 2 million gallon sewage spill that flowed from the Tijuana River to Imperial Beach. Government failed to promptly notify the public and as result, surfers and swimmers were using the water for almost a week before they became aware that the waters were tainted by sewage.
“It’s bad enough to have polluted water,” Serge said, “it’s worse when federal and international agencies don’t do their job.”
As Rob Davis noted in a Voice of San Diego piece, “The incident is just one symptom of a major pollution problem that has plagued San Diego’s coast for decades, one that was supposed to have been fixed 15 years ago but that’s been dragged down by missed deadlines, bureaucratic bungling and local infighting.”
Everywhere we went in Tijuana we saw waste tires. Waste tires are not only a huge problem for those living in Tijuana, but waste tires also have significant health, environment and economic impacts on this side of the border. When it rains trash, sewage and tires from Tijuana flow from Mexico across the border into the United States. Waste tire cleanups are a constant on both sides of the border. For example, in a recent cleanup at the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park volunteers collected more than 600 tires in a four hour period. Wildcoast’s Ben McCue noted, “A lot of those tires actually originated in California. (The tires) went over to Mexico, were not disposed of correctly and many came back here.” This is not the kind of recycling story any of us want to hear.
In Tijuana’s Laureles Canyon we had the opportunity to see the impact an organization like Wildcoast can have on a community. Through the efforts of Paloma Aguirre and Wildcoast locals are not only working to rid the community of trash and tires, but community members are actually policing the area and serving notice to would be dumpsters that such conduct will not be tolerated. But best of all is found up on top of one of the Laureles Canyon hills where Four Walls International, Wildcoast, Tijuana Calidad De Vida and Tijuana Estuary partnered on building a green community center made of 450 waste tires and other trash. The plan is to use the same construction to build homes in Laureles Canyon. This collaboration also trains residents on how to manage trash and human waste.
Bravo! It’s really simple: find an environmental harm and fix the problem. Perfect solution? No, but it is a step in the right direction. That’s what the hokey pokey is all about!
I don’t wear brands. (I’ve got nothing against them, but it’s not me.) Brands and labels give a sense of identity, loyalty, “in-ness.” They tell people something about you. I just don’t feel that sense of belonging to most companies. And don’t want people assuming things about me based on a label.
Enter The Breaks. This is different. This is local. I actually feel like I need to earn the right to wear these shirts. They might inspire more questions than assumptions. Why do I belong? Why do I care? Did I just read about it in some blog and figure I should bring my log out with five friends and bomb the lineup? What am I doing to protect the culture and the wave and the water?
That’s a lot of responsibility wrapped up in a couple yards of fabric. So I’ll wear the Cliffs shirt. And I’d better take responsibility for that declaration.
San Diego native Bird Huffman has brought surf culture and local pride to San Diego for 40 years. All you have to do is visit his Quonset hut on W. Morena Blvd. to talk story and check out the baddest collection of boards in the county to get a sense of his local pride. You can even buy a tide calendar to help him photo-document the more than 400 boards in his collection. When he chose a print shop for the tshirts, he went local with Strong Screen Printing in Barrio Logan. Taking care of our planet and our neighbors. That’s local.
San Diego Coastkeeper is all about what’s local. We work here, we live here, and we do what we can to protect the water here.
So join the (only slightly branded) movement. Pick up some trash next time you’re on the beach. And let everyone know you have local pride with a limited edition t-shirt from Bird’s Surf Shed that declares you’re part of the crew at Blacks, Cliffs, Jetty, Scripps, Tourmo or Windansea.
Bird says that local pride means we take care of our own. I agree. I’ll wear that brand.
Every time someone shows their local pride and buys a t-shirt from The Breaks collection, Bird will show his by donating a portion of the profit to San Diego Coastkeeper. Thanks, man.
Do you want to win a free surf sesh with the local legend? Bird partnered with Coastkeeper in a one-time-only contest. The first ten people to donate $100 to Coastkeeper by midnight Saturday, May 5, 2012 will be entered for a chance to win a free surf session with Bird to go on the hunt for the best waves in town. All six winners and anyone donating will receive one of “The Breaks” T-shirts. Check out other styles:
I love some friendly competition. I especially love trivia. And we all know how crazy I am about this ol’ planet we call home. That’s why when Coastkeeper partnered with San Diego CityBeat last year to put on our first Earth Day themed trivia night, I was pumped. Literally. And this year’s second annual trivia extravaganza did not disappoint!
My team (“Los Nerdos”) took home first place in 2011 and third place in 2012, both thanks to the combined power of some pretty awesome brains. We had about ten teams turn out for the Earth Day celebration at Raglan Public House (Great food, great beer, great sustainability! Check them out.) and our friends from Birch Aquarium took home the grand prize this year.
Trivia night was a fun, upbeat and energetic way to celebrate Earth Day. We tested our knowledge and learned some new fun facts about the planet. But we here at Coastkeeper like to celebrate Earth Day a little more often that once a year. We appreciate the planet and its resources as often as we can by hiking, surfing, kayaking or simply walking around the neighborhood and watching bees jump from flower to flower. Get outside and show some love for nature and donate now to help us protect and restore our most valuable resource: water!
Today is my last day at San Diego Coastkeeper. I am packing up my desk and re-organizing my files, taking down my Coastal Cleanup Day posters and my world map with the subtropical gyres and my travel spots outlined. It’s a bittersweet departure for an exciting career move to the Port of San Diego’s Environment and Land Use Department. Embracing this great opportunity to expand my skill set surely does not make it any easier to leave this engaging organization (which, by the way, is hiring).
I am eternally grateful for every inspiring experience and interaction with my coworkers, the board, donors, sponsors and dedicated volunteers of Coastkeeper over the last three years. San Diego has a close-knit environmental community and it’s been an honor to grow as a professional within this network of knowledgeable, action-oriented individuals. I am blessed to be able to continue my work in this field and to maintain a role in the finest city – especially now that I will be able to join the ranks of the volunteers!
One of the most important things I’ve learned here is how difficult, yet important, it is to inspire individuals to write or call their elected officials and agencies about a topic they care about. Get involved and speak your mind. And support organizations like Coastkeeper who are in the trenches every day by donating or volunteering – the ocean will thank you for it. See you on the beach (or bay).
This tip is part of San Diego Coastkeeper’s Earth Day blog series running through April 22, 2012.
Do your mental and physical health a favor and make less pollution. Walk there.
When you need a sandwich for lunch, to pick up some milk or to get cash from the ATM, walk there. You might find that you walked an extra five miles in a week and got a little stronger. You might run into a neighbor you haven’t seen in a while and have a chat. You might gain 30 minutes of peaceful time to yourself. And you’ll definitely leave a little less copper on the road from your car brakes, burn a little less fossil fuel and contribute a little less CO2.
(Yes, my biking friends, go ahead and ride there.)
Want to get interactive? These Android apps could be fun.
However you do it, make your life easier. Walk there.
Have you noticed a recent trend of half-trashed pet waste on area beaches, parks, and trails? I’ve seen bags of the stuff left along the shore and have a feeling the owners are never coming back for the bags. Like throwing something towards a trash can and letting the wind take it away, some people take steps to do the right thing, but for some reason can’t complete the action. I call this half-trashing it, and people do it every day. Let’s use Earth Week to tell those people to stop.
My local observation from San Diego is happening all over the world – this BBC article uses cleanup data to cite a 71% increase in the stuff on Scotland beaches. But why?
I have an inkling that many people believe the reason to pick up pet waste is to avoid the embarrassing social situation when someone has stepped in the stuff. They aren’t connecting the waste with water pollution – or if they do, perhaps they they think bagging it up at least gets the bacteria contained so it can’t enter runoff. Haven’t these people heard about plastic bags choking sea turtles!?
Pet waste and plastics cause serious problems for our coastal water quality, so don’t half-trash it. SD county Stormwater has some information and brochures to help you if you need some tips to share with your neighbors.
You could also take it a step further – a 2010 Treehugger post suggests that true Earth Lovers take the bag home and empty the bag to flush the poo. But then do you have to reuse the bag afterwards? I sure hope not.
Just don’t half trash it and you’re on your way to being an Earth Day rock star.
A word from the Board of Directors President David Welborn.
Since Gale joined us last July, we’ve been brainstorming, deliberating and strategizing on how we can most effectively address the water quality issues in San Diego. If you’ve gone through a similar visioning process, you know that you shoot for the moon and then narrow your goals to what’s effective and achievable in a certain time frame. With Gale’s energy and creative thinking on our side, we infused innovative and high-tech applications into our strategy while preserving those essential functions you’ve come to rely on through the years.
I encourage you to download a copy and read the details for yourself. We hope you’ll continue to feel proud to be a part of our team.
As you know, Coastkeeper became your water watchdog in 1995, and it took massive efforts from so many people to get us to this moment today. While we celebrate our new three-year strategy, I’d also like to thank and honor those who have completed their terms as board of directors over the recent months — Michael Beavis, Nicole Capretz, Jenny Goodman and Mary Zoeller. We are a stronger, better organization because of their involvement, and we wish them well on their next volunteer adventures.
I also want to welcome four new board members, who bring diverse perspectives and impressive expertise that will enhance Coastkeeper’s strength and presence in the community:
- Harriet Lazer, a founder, partner and CFO of The Walker Group, has been an active leader in the community including her leadership roles at Del Mar Heights School, San Diego Children’s Choir and the Bishop’s School.
- Micah Mitrosky, an environmental organizer with IBEW Local 569, engages environmental partners to build blue-green alliances around climate change, clean air and water and other environmental issues affecting working people.
- Eleanor Musick, an attorney at Procopio, practices intellectual property law, emphasizing patent prosecution in areas such as telecommunications, computer software, geophysics and oceanography; trademark and copyright prosecution; and intellectual property licensing. Her recent patent work has included representation regarding seafloor electromagnetic measurement techniques for oil exploration, developed at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
- Gregg Sadowsky, a senior vice president and senior market officer of Regency Centers, a nationwide real estate investment trust whose innovative sustainability practices significantly reduce the use of natural resources and increase operating efficiency. Gregg oversees asset management, property management, leasing and development, and projects he oversees utilize state-of-the-art techniques to reduce environmental impacts.
San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable watersin San Diego County, which means we need a diverse group of leaders to represent all aspects of our county. We aspire to increase our board to 16 members this year. If you are interested in joining and think your area of expertise or background will help us create a green and clean water movement, please contact Board Secretary Jo Brooks at email@example.com.
Meatless Monday. Ever tried it? Even though going meat-free for just one day may not seem like it would make a difference to the environment, it actually does.
It takes 12,009 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. That means you can save more water by forgoing one pound of beef, or four hamburgers, than by not showering for a year. I don’t know about you, but I’d give up four burgers to shower for a year.
Want to learn more about how our meat-eating impacts the environment? Check it out here.
Not only can going meatless help save the environment, it can benefit your health too. Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book “Eat to Live” contains great information about how eating meat impacts our health. Concerned that without meat you won’t be able to get enough protein to sustain your active lifestyle? Check out Brendan Brazier, a professional Ironman triathlete, who is also a vegan. His book “Thrive” shows how you can eat vegan and still have enough energy to kick serious butt.
You know how sometimes you find a five dollar bill in your pocket? Or discover one last piece of pie on the plate? I spend most of my day making sure San Diegans know about the work Coastkeeper does and how they can help. Sometimes, though, I go into the kitchen…and someone else already did the dishes.
That happened a lot to me last week. And all I have to do is tell you about it.
Sprinkles La Jolla: They’re back with the vanilla Earth Day cupcake, giving 100% of proceeds from April 16-22 to San Diego Coastkeeper so we can keep the ocean as pure as the sugar in that frosting. Go ahead, have two.
Cariloha: Turns out, you can make anything from bamboo. And the entire week before Earth Day, Cariloha makes its commitment to a sustainable San Diego even bigger by donating 5% of in-store profits to keep our water healthy. This is one time I’d rather you didn’t shop online.
Strong Screen Printing: When it comes to clean water, they made a strong statement: 10% of everything, all month. Cool screen printing with non-toxic dyes, homemade in our town, plus a little something extra for the water. That’s community.
And the guys at Raglan Public House pretty much told us “whatever you want” for our Earth Day trivia night on April 19. So we’re throwing a big party with City Beat, doing trivia, giving away prizes. Bring a team, have some beers and grass-fed burgers (or veggie patties) and feel the local vibe.
It’s pretty simple… These companies put a virtual five dollars in our pocket. Now we can do more for clean water. Check them out.
If you haven’t seen Avatar, see it on Earth Day.
If you have already seen it, watch it again (and make sure you see it with those 3D glasses).
We are in a war in which time is running out. Avatar puts me in a fighting frame of mind–the fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency. See Avatar and take pride in our victories and successes. Discover energy you didn’t even know you had. Remember the words of Jake Sully: “The Sky People have sent us a message… that they can take whatever they want and that no one can stop them. Well, we will send them a message. You ride out as fast as the wind can carry you. You tell the other clans to come. Tell them (San Diego Coastkeeper calls to them!) You fly now, with me! My brothers! Sisters! And we will show the Sky People… that they cannot take whatever they want! And that this… this is our land (and our water)!”
Can you feel it?
Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. To paraphrase Moat, celebrate the day and “we will see if (the)insanity can be cured.”