Groups Say Too Much Trash Found On County Beaches

On any beach in San Diego County, experts say you can find garbage.

"We don't want to have bans or restrictions. We just want people to be aware and to help stop the problems themselves," said Bill Hickman of the Surfrider Foundation.

The problem is instead of recycling, many citizens let Mother Nature deal with it, experts said.

Throughout 2007, volunteers with the Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper picked up -- and documented -- more than three tons of trash off county beaches. According to the groups, more than half of that was plastic.

  • Link: SD Surfrider Foundation Beach Cleanup
  • Link: SD Coastkeeper Beach Cleanup

    "It includes everything from Styrofoam, to plastic bags, to pieces of plastic, to food wrappers," said Hickman.

    The groups showed their findings to San Diego city officials Wednesday.

    "But it's just not enough. We need to let the public know that we need to take further steps to control this problem," said Hickman.

    One step, they said, could be the decreased use of plastic shopping bags. The groups said 2,000 of the bags were found on beaches last year.

    Consumer Glenda Dull shops with only reusable grocery bags, and even gives the bags away as presents.

    "Paper? No, kills too many trees. Plastic? No, takes too many chemicals," said Dull.

    Ray Kau of Whole Foods in Hillcrest said, "We throw away about 1 billion bags a year and recycle less than 1 percent of those bags."

    Some grocery stores are helping fix the problem, experts said.

    Next month, Whole Foods will stop offering plastic bags at the register in hopes that customers will opt for reusable bags.

    "Awareness is really building. We're seeing more and more people bringing their own bags into the store," said Kau.

    Hickman added, "That's what we really need at the end of the day -- some of the bigger businesses jumping on board."

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