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New Year, New Clean-Up Challenge!

Join us in making a resolution to safely get outside while making a difference for the San Diego River!


Every year, hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash wash into or are deposited into the riverbed. You can join the efforts for a clean river (and get some exercise at the same time) by hitting the sidewalk, trail, or walkway with a trash bag or bucket!



Here's how it works:


1. Find a buddy!

  • Cleaning with a buddy or two is always best. It's safer and more fun too!

    2. Choose a location

  • Explore your neighborhood or a publicly accessible nearby park. If you live in the San Diego River watershed (map), cleaning near your home still helps our San Diego River! Learn more about watersheds here.
  • Looking to check out the San Diego River Trail? Here are some suggested routes.

    3. Gather your gear

  • You'll need clean-up and safety supplies: protective gloves, trash bag(s) or 5-gallon bucket, and trash-pickers (tongs work great too!). Like any hike or long walk, we also recommend bringing sunblock, first aid kit, insect repellent, drinking water, hat, good shoes, hand sanitizer, and a camera!
  • Click to download as PDF
  • Make sure you print (or save to your phone) the Virtual Trash Challenge BINGO card to be eligible to win prizes! Click to see full-size PDF!

    4. Conduct your clean-up, dispose of trash

  • Pick up litter and any other items you find that do not belong in the natural environment, especially plastic!
  • Since you will be taking care of disposal yourself, it's always a great idea to do your clean-up the day before trash day. Also, be mindful not to collect more than you can transport back home.
  • Remove only man-made items. Do not touch dead or injured animals. If you come across an injured animal, call a wildlife resource such as Project Wildlife for more information about what you can do.
  • If you find household hazardous waste (such as paint or batteries) or e-waste, our friends at ILCSD have put together a great tool to help answer your questions. If after looking there you have more questions feel free to reach out to our clean-up team.

    5. How to Win!

  • The first 300 people to get BINGO in 2022 (5 in a row: diagonal, vertical or horizontal) will win a challenge sticker!
  • The first 5 people in 2022 to complete the WHOLE BOARD (all 25 squares!) will win a Hydroflask.
  • Log your clean-ups by taking selfies for each square!
  • Complete this form to claim your prize!


    Important Safety Notes!

  • Always best to clean with a buddy
  • Stay on public sidewalks and trails
  • Wear gloves to protect you from anything you may be picking up. We recommend leather gloves.
  • Never put your feet or hands into holes, there might be critters home!
  • Please do not pick up syringes, needles, glass or sharp objects.
  • In accordance with federal, state, and local guidelines, please wear a mask during the duration of your clean-up. Be mindful to step away and give others space if you need to remove your mask to take a break or get a drink of water.
  • While buddies are always encouraged, public health guidelines recommend that you only have close contact with people in your household/pod; maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other walkers or trail users.

    Our mission is a TRASH-FREE San Diego River!


    We know this will take all of us doing our part, and we cannot wait to engage volunteers like you in a new way! Welcome to the river family, come join in on the family fun!





    Help us keep the River beautiful for the next generation.
    Volunteer now »



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