May 23 – Memorial Day Travel Brings Massive Influx of Trash to San Diego

San Diego Coastkeeper offers tips for individuals to reduce litter as California pursues its first statewide trash policy

SAN DIEGO – May 23, 2013 – Memorial Day weekend kicks off summer travel— and an influx of litter that finds its way into San Diego’s waters. San Diego Coastkeeper, an organization that protects and restores fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters, asks fun-seekers to think ahead when enjoying their local waters and open spaces to reduce trash.

San Diego Coastkeeper expects the swell of travelers this Memorial Day weekend to overwhelm San Diego’s trash bins and management systems and increase litter on streets and in natural spaces. Research shows that 80 percent of marine debris starts on land. Trash that people leave behind or that escapes receptacles gets blown by wind or carried by rain into storm drains. These storm drains flow to the bays, rivers and the ocean. Once in the water, trash breaks down into smaller pieces that can persist in the environment for decades, polluting the water and harming fish and animals that mistake it for food.

“Last year alone, our volunteers removed nearly 7,600 pounds of trash from our beaches— and we always see a spike during busy summer weekends,” said Megan Baehrens, executive director of Coastkeeper. “The good news is that we can maximize fun and minimize trash by making a few easy changes to how we prep for Memorial Day weekend.”

The best way to reduce trash in San Diego’s waters is to stop trash at its source. In this spirit, Coastkeeper asks Memorial Day revelers to:

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Wind, rain, bird and other critters can carry trash out of bins and into the water, especially those that are near or over capacity on holidays and weekends. Leave no trace by packing out everything you brought in and disposing of it at home.
  • Skip the single-use bag. Bring your goods to the beach or river a reusable bag or big storage container. These can be used time and time again.
  • Pick up three. Adopt the mantra: “I cleaned after me. Now I will pick up three.” Simply put, remember to pick up any additional trash littering the space around you.
  • Grab your butts. Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the country. Remember to collect and properly dispose of your cigarettes, and remind your friends to do the same.
  • Report pollution concerns. Download the free Waterkeeper Swim Guide ( to report trash, pollution and other unsafe conditions, and to find beaches safe for swimming and recreation.

San Diego Coastkeeper is a member of a statewide network called California Coastkeeper Alliance (CCKA), which is advising the state on the development of a trash policy to require local governments to reduce and capture trash before it enters our waters. CCKA expects the State Water Resources Control Board to approve a new statewide trash policy by the end of the year, which would require San Diego to implement local programs to meet the new standards.



Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s bays, beaches, watersheds and ocean for the people and wildlife that depend on them. We balance community outreach, education, and advocacy to promote stewardship of clean water and a healthy coastal ecosystem. For more information, visit San Diego Coastkeeper online at localhost/sdcoastkeeper

SAN DIEGO COASTKEEPER is a member of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, the statewide voice for swimmable, fishable and drinkable waters in California.


Waterkeeper Swim Guide is a free smartphone application with up-to-date water quality information about more than 400 California beaches, coves, rivers, and creeks. Download the Waterkeeper Swim Guide app on your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch® and Android to locate your nearest swimming and recreation areas and report pollution concerns.