2014 Beach Cleanup Results – Fiesta Island Had Most Trash – Not OB

by on December 30, 2014 · 2 comments

in California, Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

SurfRider cleanup chart 2014Yearly totals indicate a troubling trend of inland trash making its way to the ocean

From Coastkeeper and Surfrider Media Release

Condoms. Tampons. Glow sticks. A stethoscope.

These items topped the list of unusual pieces of trash removed from San Diego County beaches during a suite of cleanups hosted in 2014 by the Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter and San Diego Coastkeeper. The environmental groups train volunteers to track the type and number of items they pick up during cleanups, ask them to note unique items and help them weigh the total contents.

This year, more than 7,000 volunteers removed nearly 10,500 pounds of debris from coastal areas, capturing it before it could pollute the ocean.

More alarming than the unusual items, says cleanup organizers, is that volunteers removed nearly 207,800 pieces of trash including more than 75,000 cigarette butts, 23,500 plastic pieces and 17,500 bits of plastic foam (the top three items removed).

Haley Haggerstone, Surfrider’s San Diego County chapter manager, stated:

“Cigarette butts move with ease through our stormwater systems, meaning they don’t need to be discarded at the beach in order for them to find their way there,”

“As with most of the debris we remove, their miniscule size can be misleading—they are non-biodegradable and leach a powerful punch of toxins into the water.”

Things made of plastic or plastic foam took second place to cigarettes as the most prevalent type of debris removed from the county’s beaches. Totaling 46 percent of the items collected by volunteers, most of these small pieces were less than one inch in diameter, and much of it was non-recyclable expanded polystyrene foam, or “Styrofoam®.”

Coastkeeper’s community engagement coordinator, Kristin Kuhn, said:

“This trash doesn’t necessarily start at the beach—its path is one of wind and rain from the far reaches of inland San Diego County. Each year I’m alarmed by the number of items and their weight, and I’m also reminded how these small pieces of debris indicate a much larger issue to solve.”

Fiesta Island had the most trash collected per volunteer in 2014 with 3.43 pounds of trash per volunteer. Fiesta Island also had the most trash removed overall with 1,127 pounds total and the highest average pounds removed per cleanup. [For comparison with OB, see above chart.]

To solve these pollution problems and volunteer at future beach cleanups, interested community members can help at one of the 40 cleanups already planned for 2015. Find more information about upcoming cleanup days by visiting San Diego Coastkeeper’s event calendar or Surfrider’s event calendar. Remember, Surfrider and Coastkeeper ask volunteers to bring their own reusable bags, gloves and water bottles.

Here’s a more complete results list, with individual beaches.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler January 2, 2015 at 6:56 am

These numbers are somewhat skewed, in my opinion. There are tons of locals who continuously pick up trash in places like OB and none of that is counted. Fiesta has no locals and most if not all of their clean ups are done by groups.


Tom G January 2, 2015 at 10:27 am

Tyler, you make an excellent point, and I think that’s even better news than having not been first on that list. I know more than a few people who pick up trash on their way out of the water and walking up the beach. Believe me, if you pick up trash in front of people, a percentage will notice and think twice about their own carelessness.


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