MB woman turns beach trash into art; breathes new life into other discards
by Marsha Kay Seff
Published - 11/07/12 - 03:49 PM | 4798 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cathy Ives takes her morning walk at Mission Beach to collect garbage and discards. Photo by Marsha Kay Seff
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Cathy Ives grew up at the beach in San Diego and said she hates to see beachgoers leaving their dirty imprints on the sand.

So for years, the Mission Beach resident has been spending two hours several mornings a week picking up trash and other discarded items for recycling. She uses many of her finds in wall hangings — and even decorated her fence with found sandals and baseball caps. She wears a pair of reclaimed flip-flops in like-new condition.

She recycles glass and cans and takes the things that still have life in them to thrift stores. She discards as little as possible, although she admits with a cringe that dirty diapers, condoms and razors are bound for the trash.

Ives said she’s always amazed that people can spend a day enjoying the beach and then leave their trash behind to ruin the experience for others.

On a recent morning, she collected 15 shoes, including pairs and singles. She has even found an American flag in the sand. Among her other finds are bottle caps, cans, cigarettes and lighters, toys, hats, dog leashes, make-up, balls, towels, balloons and clothing — including underpants and bras. Ives shakes her head when she says she finds some of the trash within steps of the trashcans.

She also picks up lots of broken boogie boards, which owners simply abandon. She hasn’t decided how to recycle them yet, though one of her friends is using one to display jewelry.

Ives said Styrofoam and balloons in particular make her angry, because they can and do end up in fish and birds. That’s why there’s a ban against them at the beach, she said.

The problem, she said, is that people don’t care.

“They toss out something because it’s cheap, yet they can’t pay their bills,” said Ives. “Talk about a disposable life and society … ”

To encourage others to think about what they discard, Ives started her own blog, www.GreenEcoServices.com, in 2008. The site is filled with ideas for green products and recycling.

Cleaning up the beach is easy, she said.

“Every morning, there are hundreds of people walking for exercise and they walk right by the trash,” she added. “If everyone had one bag for trash, we’d have a cleaner beach.”

She points to a woman walking by with her dog and says every dog owner could make a difference if they took one bag for the poop and another for the rest of the garbage. Actually, there are so many plastic bags left on the beach people don’t even need to take their own, Ives said.

Ives said she continues her quest to clean up the beach “because someone has to.” And she hopes that seeing her at work will make other people more conscious about what they do with their litter.


To raise awareness for the type of trash that’s ending up on local beaches, the New Ocean Blue nonprofit is sponsoring a Trash to Art program at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library, 4275 Cass St., from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 10. Participants will Velcro beach trash onto a giant canvas, which will be displayed in front of the library for the next month. New Ocean Blue members will talk about the dangers of the ocean’s garbage patches, causing 100,000 marine mammals die annually from plastic and other trash.
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