by Staff Reporter / Scoop San Diego / January 11, 2012
Cigarette butts, plastic foam and plastics continue to be the top three most common items found on San Diego County’s beaches, according to data released today by San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation San Diego Chapter. In partnership since 2003, the environmental organizations conduct twice-monthly beach cleanups throughout the county and ask volunteers to keep detailed records of the debris they remove. The data show that Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier had the least trash in 2011, while Ocean Beach Pier had the most trash collected per volunteer.
Alicia Glassco, San Diego Coastkeeper’s Education and Marine Debris Manager, stated:
“The data help us identify from where trash on our beaches originates. For instance, we know that plastic foam tops our list every year, which means we can drastically minimize this pollution source by choosing food containers made of other, more Earth-friendly materials. Or even better, bring your own reusable food container.”
Data collection cards from the 2011 cleanups also show:
- Six of the top ten category types recorded in 2011 are composed of plastic.
- We collected 11,000 more cigarette butts than in 2010.
- Styrofoam pieces are consistently one of the top three items counted.
- Interesting items found in 2011 included an eight-foot metal rod, carpet, spool of thread, traffic sign, gas pump, yo-yo and pair of safety goggles.
“Plastic poses a serious threat to our marine and coastal ecosystems because it does not biodegrade. Even cigarette filters are made of plastic. The solution starts at home so please help us Rise Above Plastics and if you smoke, please Hold On To Your Butts,” said Surfrider Foundation San Diego Chapter Coordinator Haley Haggerstone. Alicia Glassco and Haggerstone explained the impact of the trash in the YouTube video.
Coastkeeper and Surfrider have also announced the full 2012 beach cleanup schedule, which rotates locations of popular beaches throughout the county and are open to all volunteers. At each cleanup, organizers anticipate 100 to 500 people. They do supply bags, gloves and water for those who participate, but request that volunteers bring their own gardening gloves, buckets and reusable water bottles to help reduce plastic usage during the pickup.