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Beach cleanups collect five tons of trash

Coastkeeper and Surfrider Foundation volunteers cleared nearly five tons of trash from San Diego beaches this year, nearly a ton more than last year, organizers said.

In 82 cleanups, 6,489 volunteers cleaned 9,544 pounds of trash in 2013, the organizations stated in a year-end report. That’s 1,950 more pounds than they collected in 2012.

The sites ranged from Imperial Beach in San Diego to Buccaneer Beach in Oceanside, and stretches of seashore between.

“These are all cleanups that Coastkeeper and Surfrider organizes at popular beaches, all the way from Tijuana to Oceanside,” spokeswoman Jamie Ortiz said.

Most of the trash collected represents debris left by beach visitors, including food wrappers, lids, cups, straws, utensils and bags.

Cigarette butts accounted for the biggest share, with 52,236 butts collected. They were down by 14,500 from 2012, but are still the top item, Ortiz said. Those butts release nicotine, tar and other toxins into the sea, possibly harming marine life.

“The smaller pieces are coming from cigarette butts, which continue to be a very big nuisance in a very small way,” she said.

Volunteers also gathered 18,420 plastic food wrappers, 16,158 plastic foam containers and 4,418 plastic bags.

Cardiff Beach topped the trash tally, with 4.06 pounds of garbage collected per volunteer. It replaces Mission Beach, where volunteers cleaned 3.8 pounds each in 2012. La Jolla shores was the cleanest site for 2013, with just over half a pound of trash per volunteer.

By Deborah Brennan from the UT