18th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup

June 20, 2020 | San Diego

I Love A Clean San Diego is taking one of its largest volunteer events virtual through Facebook Live in response to COVID-19 and current social distancing practices. The virtual, close-to-home event still gives residents an opportunity to safely participate in the popular cleanup in the streets, parks, canyons, and beaches within their own neighborhoods. Free online registration is now open at CreektoBay.org.

Participants are encouraged to register online as a volunteer. Then, tune in to the event kickoff at 9am on June 20 at the I Love A Clean San Diego Facebook page, featuring hosts from I Love A Clean San Diego and its partners. The kickoff will provide important volunteer and safety information. Throughout the day, I Love A Clean San Diego will keep the live broadcast going through live check-ins with participants throughout the county who will share their experience and what pollutants they are finding.

New for this year’s event, I Love A Clean San Diego is excited to launch the Volunteer Impact Map. This participatory map allows volunteers countywide to submit their cleanup location and stats to create visual and quantitative measurement of the day’s cleanup efforts. Participants will contribute to real-time, crowd-sourced metrics for the event. Once registered, volunteers will be sent a link to a simple survey to report back on their cleanup stats, which can be accessed on a mobile device or computer. Everyone is asked to check in throughout the day to see the stats and locations expand. Creek to Bay typically runs for three hours from 9am to noon. However, organizers want as many people as possible to spend what time they can in their communities, so volunteers are able to participate anytime during the day. 

“No matter where you live in San Diego County, we all live in one of the region’s 11 watersheds, which need our help to protect the inland environment, creeks, bays, and ultimately the ocean,” says Len Hering, executive director of I Love A Clean San Diego. “This year, we are not organizing specific sites to avoid large group gatherings. Rather, we encourage residents to help their community close to home with immediate family and friends, and engage with us through social media to show their impact.” 

To help expand the countywide experience, volunteers are encouraged to contribute to the virtual cleanup’s story through Facebook and Instagram with images and video to show themselves in action as they beautify their community. #ILoveACleanSD #CreekToBay2020 @ILoveACleanSD #SeparateTogether

“Since we are unable to host our typical cleanup sites, this is a unique opportunity for thousands of people — separate but together — to make a huge collective impact,” says Lauren Short, the event’s program manager. “Any plastic piece, cigarette butt, or other form of pollution removed through many small cleanup efforts creates a lifelong difference. You might be surprised what you find in your neighborhood.”

In years past, about 5,000 volunteers have cleaned up an average of 140,000 pounds of litter at more than 100 sites countywide at each event. Even with this year’s restrictions, organizers at I Love A Clean San Diego are excited to see the results from the many small efforts countywide and hope the Creek to Bay’s tagline, “Your Neighborhood, Our Environment,” highlights the importance of taking action locally to contribute regionally and beyond. 

Volunteering in the new normal:

I Love A Clean San Diego is following public health guidelines and acknowledgment from both the County of San Diego and State of California. 

How to volunteer for the virtual countywide Creek to Bay Cleanup:

  1. Register online for free at CreektoBay.org — this helps organizers track participation countywide. The volunteer profile created on I Love A Clean San Diego’s “Community Hub” will provide easier access to upcoming volunteer events and programs, like Coastal Cleanup Day or Adopt-A-Beach.
  2. Like I Love A Clean San Diego’s Facebook page in preparation for the Facebook Live event.
  3. Follow I Love A Clean San Diego on Instagram (@ILoveACleanSD) to share your day’s experience.
  4. Target your community — choose a block, a park, beach, canyon, or neighborhood near you.
  5. Prepare for the day with a reusable bucket, work gloves, litter grabbers, reusable water bottle and sturdy shoes. Don’t have a bucket or work gloves?
    1. While I Love A Clean San Diego does not recommend the use of plastic garbage bags, if that’s all that is available, it’s better to get litter off the streets. 
  6. Tune in at 9am for the kickoff and post your experience on Facebook and Instagram throughout the day.
  7. Wear face masks and gloves
  8. Practice social distancing and volunteer only with immediate family and friends.
  9. DO NOT form large groups — remember many small efforts make a big difference.
  10. Weigh the litter you collect and share it with I Love A Clean San Diego — directions provided after online registration is complete.

I Love A Clean San Diego encourages all volunteers to practice zero waste cleanup habits at Creek to Bay by swapping single-use plastic items for sustainable alternatives. 

As an incentive to opt for reusable alternatives, I Love A Clean San Diego will again hold its Bling Your Bucket Contest to encourage creativity while promoting conservation. Details on this and other event contests can be found at CreektoBay.org.

Since its inception, Creek to Bay Cleanup volunteers have helped clear more than 2.7 million pounds of pollution from communities across the county to protect the regions natural environment, waterways and the ocean. 

Staff at I Love A Clean San Diego thank the generous donors and sponsors whose support helped launch a new event website and volunteer registration platform to support Creek to Bay for years to come. Once an individual creates a volunteer profile, their profile will serve as their hub for the many events and workshops I Love A Clean San Diego hosts throughout the year.

Did you know?

The most prevalent pollutants collected at the Creek to Bay Cleanup are discarded cigarette butts, which are really plastic, and plastic pieces of all types and sizes. These items pollute the planet forever. Volunteers at past events have also collected, easy chairs, tires, mattresses, refrigerator’s, bike frames, golf clubs and other odd items that should not be discarded in the natural environment.

Supporting partners of the Creek to Bay Cleanup: Think Blue, County of San Diego, CBS News 8, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Port of San Diego, COX, U.S. Bank, Dudek, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, City of San Marcos, City of Imperial Beach, City of Escondido, City of La Mesa, City of Chula Vista, City of Carlsbad, City of Poway, Mitchell International, California Coast Credit Union. 

Founded in 1954, I Love A Clean San Diego is an environmental nonprofit supporting residents and businesses of San Diego County through youth and adult education, and local action through impactful volunteer events and workshops. I Love A Clean San Diego’s programs are an environmental catalyst, awakening passion and inspiring action to empower everyone to be leaders in conservation and waste-free living. For more information, to volunteer or donate, visit CleanSD.org or call 619.291.0103. Connect with I Love A Clean San Diego on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.