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Volunteers Pick Up 10,500 Pounds of Litter At San Diego County Beaches

Volunteers at beach cleanups around San Diego County this year removed almost 10,500 pounds of litter, comprised of nearly 208,000 pieces of refuse, according to statistics released Monday by San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation of San Diego County.

More than 75,000 cigarette butts were collected, along with 23,500 pieces of plastic and 17,500 bits of plastic foam, the organizations reported.

"Cigarette butts move with ease through our stormwater systems, meaning they don't need to be discarded at the beach in order for them to find their way there," said Haley Haggerstone, Surfrider's San Diego County chapter manager. "As with most of the debris we remove, their miniscule size can be misleading — they are non-biodegradable and leach a powerful punch of toxins into the water."

Fiesta Island had the most trash collected per volunteer in 2014 with 3.43 pounds of trash per person. The recreation area on Mission Bay also had the most trash removed overall with 1,127 pounds total and the highest average pounds removed per cleanup.

"Each year I'm alarmed by the number of items and their weight, and I'm also reminded how these small pieces of debris indicate a much larger issue to solve," said Kristin Kuhn, Coastkeeper's community engagement coordinator.

Information on the organizations' 40 cleanups planned so far for next year is available on the event calendars of their websites at www.sdcoastkeeper.org and www.surfridersd.org. Volunteers need to bring their own reusable bags, gloves and water bottles to the cleanups.

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