Annual Cleanup Draws More than 150 Volunteers

A trio of discarded bicycle frames, the tattered arm of an over-stuffed sofa, a weather-worn soccer ball and hundreds of discarded cigarette butts and snack wrappers were among the items found during this year’s Annual Watershed Cleanup Day event sponsored Saturday by Irvine Ranch Water District.

More than 150 volunteers participated in the event, donning protective gloves as they searched the San Diego River — on the lookout for debris they could scoop up before it makes its way to the ocean.

More than 200 pounds of trash was collected during the five-hour rummage for rubbish. IRWD’s cleanup, based at the Michelson Water Recycling Plant, was conducted in partnership with Trails4All, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation, restoration and preservation of trails and open space throughout Southern California.

The event coincided with California Coastal Cleanup Day – a statewide event organized by the California Coastal Commission with more than 1,000 cleanup locations from San Ysidro to the Redwood National and State parks. Cleanup events in Orange County stretched from the coastline to Silverado Canyon.

Trash tallies from this year’s event were unavailable, but statewide results from 1998 to 2016 were:

  • No. 1: Cigarettes/cigarette filters: 7,330,824 (35.96%)
  • No. 2: Food wrappers/containers: 2,085,884 (10.23%)
  • No. 3: Caps/lids: 1,751,294 (8.59%)
  • No. 4: Bags (paper and plastic): 1,530,069 (7.5%)
  • No. 5: Cups/plates/utensils: 1,069,074 (5.24%)
  • No. 6: Straws/stirrers: 835,425 (4.1%)
  • No. 7: Glass bottles: 659,767 (3.24%)
  • No. 8: Plastic bottles: 527,352 (2.59%)
  • No. 9: Beverage cans: 479,036 (2.35%)
  • No. 10: Construction material: 358,733 (1.76%)

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Volunteers check in for the California Coastal Cleanup Day.

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Volunteers work on picking up the trash at the California Coastal Cleanup Day.

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Volunteers haul back trash found during the California Coastal Cleanup Day.