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Countywide cleanup goes virtual

The 18th Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup kicks off on Facebook Live Saturday, June 20—This year it’s a virtual event. 

Set for the first day of summer, one of San Diego County’s largest environmental volunteer efforts will mobilize volunteers of all ages in all communities across the region through social media.

Free online registration now open at CreektoBay.org. 

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 streets, parks, canyons and beaches within their own neighborhoods. Free online registration is now open at CreektoBay.org.

First, all participants are encouraged to register online as a volunteer. Then, tune into the event kick-off at 9 a.m. 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 kick-off 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.

Also NEW for this year’s event, I Love A Clean San Diego is launching 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 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 9 a.m. 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,” said Len Hering, executive director at 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,” said 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 in need 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.

 

The Creek to Bay Cleanup is normally held on the Saturday of Earth Week, but was postponed this year due to COVID-19. 

“This year we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Earth Week and as an environmental education nonprofit, having served San Diego County for more than 65 years, we want to make this year an especially impactful day of education and action,” said Hering. “We are excited to explore this virtual opportunity with volunteers to see how many take up the challenge to beautify their neighborhoods.” 

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 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?

a.       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 9 a.m. 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 over 2.7 million pounds of pollution from communities across the county to protect the regions natural environment, waterways and the ocean.

For more information, to volunteer or donate, visit CleanSD.org or call (619) 291-0103. 

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