SAN DIEGO — The dirtiest beach in San Diego County this year was Cardiff State Beach in Encinitas, San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation of San Diego County reported Monday.
The groups said volunteers at their beach clean-up events collected, on average, just over 4 pounds of trash at Cardiff. The cleanest beach was La Jolla Shores, with 0.58 pounds of refuse per volunteer.
More than 9,500 pounds of trash were picked up along beaches this year, nearly 2,000 pounds more than last year, according to the groups’ data.
They said the number of cigarette butts collected dropped by more than 14,000 from last year, but they still remain the No. 1 item of trash found on area beaches.
“Those pesky, little cigarettes are significant, and they continue to harm and destroy San Diego’s beautiful beaches in a big way,” said Haley Jain Haggerstone, chapter coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation. “We love the increase in our volunteer efforts this year, but we are troubled by the amount of small trash pieces they collected.”
Plastic materials made up a larger portion of the refuse collected. Environmentalists say plastic items pose a threat to wildlife because they don’t biodegrade and can sometimes be mistaken for food.
The organizations say their volunteers collected more than 52,000 cigarette butts, 18,000 plastic food wrappers, 16,000 pieces of plastic foam and more than 4,400 plastic bags.