County cleans it up… …before ocean sweeps it away
by Joseph Greenberg | Beach & Bay Press
Published - 04/16/09 - 11:29 AM | 1843 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Everyone knows cigarettes are bad for your health. But people seem less aware or less remorseful about scarring the environment with their left-over, tar-stained filters. Those tiny butts add up and get swept along with other debris into streams and watersheds and eventually make their way to the ocean.

“The cigarette butts continue to be an extremely pervasive litter problem, and people do not know how big an impact they can have,” said I Love A Clean San Diego (ILACSD) outreach director Morgan Justice-Black.

Justice-Black is hoping for a volunteer force 5,000 strong that will band together and blanket the entire county in the seventh annual Creek to Bay Cleanup that takes place April 25 from 9 a.m. to noon.

She also hopes that the message of loving a clean San Diego will spread through the volunteers and community members alike to cause a snowball effect in fighting pollution.

“To me pollution knows no boundaries, which is why we cover such a huge area. We have cleanup sites from Oceanside to San Ysidro, from Mission Beach and as far east as El Cajon,” Justice-Black said.

There are approximately 60 cleanup sites throughout those regions, and the event this year is poised to crack the 1 million pound mark of debris picked up and properly disposed.

The widespread volunteering event could not come at a more poignant time in the current economic atmosphere of fund siphoning and budget cuts.

“You read in the paper every day how infrastructure is being cut, the amount of [garbage] cans at the beach are being reduced along with funding for cleaning and maintenance,” Justice-Black said. “It is important that volunteers take matters into their own hands.”

To keep a happy and energetic air to the event, a contest is always held to see who can find the most unusual items.

“We have found bowling balls, pink stereo systems, all sorts of weird items. If a pink Cadillac is found it will go straight to me,” Justice-Black laughed.

Maruta Gardner, the captain of the cleanup site at Santa Clara Point in Mission Beach, said that the oddest form of litter at her site is consistently women’s undergarments. Gardner hopes 80 to 90 volunteers will show up to help this year.

“We are going to fill as many bags of trash and recyclable materials as we can,” Gardner said. “And to keep track of how much we are picking up, we will weigh all of it with the scale from my own bathroom.”

Gardner retired last November from a career in school administration that lasted 38 years. From 1990 to 1995 Gardner served as principal of Mission Bay High School.

Gardner is active with the Mission Bay Women’s Club that adopted Santa Clara Point to take on the responsibility of keeping the beautiful location litter free. The club feels an affinity for keeping the site clean and safe, Gardner said.

All cleaning tools for volunteers will be provided at each of the sites. To sign-up, visit or call Justice-Black at (619) 291 0103 x. 3003.

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