Close to home, socially distanced, and armed with personal protective equipment and cleanup supplies, San Diego County volunteers came out in force today with I Love A Clean San Diego for the 36th annual Coastal Cleanup Day. There were 7,823 registered volunteers by 9 a.m. This represents an increase of 200 volunteers from 2019.
This year, I Love A Clean San Diego is relying on volunteers to self-report their litter totals. Live results and volunteer images can be viewed at CleanupDay.org (scroll down to the Volunteer Impact Map). The live map will continue to populate over the weekend as volunteers have time to input their data.
The reported totals are lower compared to prior years due to the smaller, decentralized efforts. However, organizers I Love A Clean San Diego applaud the large number of volunteers who registered to cleanup in their communities throughout San Diego County.
“I think it is fair to San Diego County’s volunteers are cleanup heavyweights,” said Lauren Short the event’s manager with I Love A Clean San Diego. “We piloted the virtually hosted cleanup event last June with the countywide Creek to Bay Cleanup, but we still weren’t sure what to expect with Coastal Cleanup Day. I’m so proud of the volunteers and how they showed up in a tough year – it’s truly phenomenal.”
Since Coastal Cleanup Day’s inception, over 970,000 volunteers with I Love A Clean San Diego have helped clear over 16 million pounds of litter and debris from the region.
THE NEW LITTER PROBLEM
COVID-19 has not only caused a human health crisis; the response is causing environmental damage.
Disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) in the form of masks and gloves stand out among the 2020 litter totals. These items had not been tracked in the past. It is estimated about 200 billion disposable masks and gloves are being used each month around the globe.
Once banned plastic grocery bags are also marring the county’s landscape.
CIGARETTE BUTTS AND PLASTIC TOP POLLUTANTS
For the 36th year in a row, cigarette butts, which are plastic, and plastic in all its forms remains the chief polluters. From food wrappers to cups and water bottles to fast-food containers, discarded single-use plastics never go away and break down into microplastics that infect the planet forever.
If the consumption of plastic continues at its current rates, the World Economic Forum reported there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.