Second Year in Row Ocean Beach Misses Being “Dirtiest Beach”

by on December 17, 2013 · 4 comments

in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach

beach cleanupFor the second year in a row, OB has missed out being called the “dirtiest beach” by San Diego Surfrider and Coastkeeper.  Actually, this year this dubious award goes to Cardiff State Beach.  OB was the dirtiest beach in 2011 in terms of trash and debris being picked up off the sand by the two groups.

Here is their press release:

 Cardiff State Beach replaces Mission Beach as dirtiest beach in San Diego County

San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter—two of the region’s leading environmental organizations—removed 9,544 pounds of trash from San Diego beaches in 2013. After tallying this year’s results, organizers say 6,489 volunteers removed 1,950 more pounds than in 2012, collecting 157,908 items of trash.

This year, the top four items of trash include:

  • Cigarette Butts (52,236 items)
  • Plastic Food Wrappers (18,420 items)
  • Plastic Foam (16.158 items)
  • Fully Intact Plastic Bags (4,418)

“Those pesky, little cigarettes are significant, and they continue to harm and destroy San Diego’s beautiful beaches in a big way,” said Haley Jain Haggerstone, chapter coordinator for Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter.

“We love the increase in our volunteer efforts this year, but we are troubled by the amount of small trash pieces they collected.”

As in past years, cigarettes and cigarette butts continue to be the most common trash item on San Diego County beaches. In 2013, volunteers removed 58,236 cigarette butts from San Diego beaches, 14,500 less than in 2012. Organizers say cigarette butts are still a major pollution concern for San Diego beaches because they are non-biodegradable and leak toxins into the water and the environment, a serious health problem for both marine wildlife and humans.

This year saw a decrease in the total number of items collected, and a larger percentage of those items were plastic materials. Organizers say plastics are a huge concern for marine life because they do not biodegrade, but break into smaller and smaller pieces as they form a “plastic dust.” This process releases harmful toxins into the ocean and harms marine life that mistakes the plastic particles for food. Plastic materials include food wrappers, lids, cups, straws, utensils, plastic foam and single-use plastic bags.

Last year, Mission Beach ranked as the dirtiest beach in San Diego County with 3.8 pounds of trash collected per volunteer.

In 2013, the dirtiest beach title belongs to Cardiff State Beach, with 4.06 pounds of trash collected per volunteer. This year, the cleanest beach in San Diego County is La Jolla Shores with .58 pounds of trash per volunteer.

To solve these pollution problems and volunteer at beach cleanups, interested community members and visitors can help at one of the 38 cleanups already planned for 2014. Find more information on upcoming cleanup days by visiting Surfrider’s Event Calendar. Remember, Surfrider and Coastkeeper ask volunteers to bring their own reusable bags, gloves and water bottles.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

gailpowell December 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm

What this means is that Coastkeeper & Surfrider SD need to put more of their beach cleanup resources towards scheduling events at Cardiff State Beach, if it is so dirty as to be considered #1. Right now, it seems like OB, PB, Moonlight Beach in Encinitas & Imperial Beach get the lion’s share of volunteer attention. Time to take the gloves and bags up to Cardiff.


obracer December 18, 2013 at 7:44 am

Credit has to be given to locals that pick up trash everyday along the beach and in the kelp that washes up. Just before sunrise you will see a tall man with a trash bag usually full by the time he gets to the pier, I don’t know his name but I always say good morning and thank him for cleaning up.

Cigarette butts are a bigger problem that plastic bags.

Place a $ 1.00 CRV on every cigarette butt purchased, YES $ 20 a pack CRV.
Buy back centers can pay by the pound like aluminum cans.
Many other things we buy have recycle fees due to the impact on the environment, electronics, tires, appliances, auto parts, etc., same theory should apply to cigarette butts.


Debra December 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm

I agree and I also think that anyone caught tossing cigarette butts on the ground should be hit with a very stiff fine.


Cheryl Newcomb December 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm

The answer is to stop the demands for single use plastic items. Reuse your water bottle, utensils and yes, even your straw!


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