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On National Cleanup Day, founders return to Mission Trails Regional Park

national clean up day pic
Posted at 12:35 PM, Sep 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-16 15:35:18-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Saturday is National Cleanup Day. The litter-picking-up event has taken place on the third Saturday of September since 2017, and the concept was started by two men from San Diego

Picking up trash isn't how everyone loves to spend their Saturday mornings. But Steve Jewett and Bill Willoughby wouldn't have it any other way.

"We have a deal if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong," Willoughby says with a chuckle.

Jewett and Willoughby have been having fun together now for 20 years, and they're encouraging others to do it too. That's when the pair started picking up trash together, and eventually formed their 501(C)-3 nonprofit, Clean Trails, in San Diego.

"We'd go hiking, and we'd see trash and litter on the hiking trails," Jewett says.

Twenty years later, Mission Trails Regional Park on Cowles Mountain is the site of Cleanup Day again. It's the place where they first started their litter-cleaning journey together.

On Saturday, community members are carrying bags and grabbers, picking up the stuff someone else wouldn't.

"I just love being outside and making a difference," volunteer Madelynne Bayer said.

The movement has evolved, from a small series of clean-up events to National Cleanup day, to now.

"In 2018, we did World Cleanup Day for the first time. It was just a wonderful thing," Jewett adds.

The cleanups have spread globally. A quick Facebook search shows dozens of Cleanup events all over Saturday.

"I think it's a great demonstration of how something can really start on a small scale, but it doesn't take much to make a difference," Jessica Lilja said.

Lilja is volunteering on the trail for the first time on Saturday.

Nobody likes trash, but for Jewett and Willoughby, cleaning it up and making an impact is what's really fun.

"We want to make communities stronger, so they don't have litter and trash and can have fun," Jewett says.