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New Year, New Clean-Up Challenge!

This January, as we embark on a new year, join us in making a resolution to safely get outside while making a difference for the San Diego River!


For now, our group clean-up gatherings are paused, so your help is more important than ever! Every year, tens of thousands of pounds of trash wash into the riverbed from neighborhoods and canyons in our community. So help us out (and get some exercise at the same time) by hitting the sidewalk, trail, or walkway with a trash bag!



Here's how it works:


1. Find a buddy!

  • Cleaning with a buddy is always best. It's safer and more fun too! With COVID-19 guidelines in mind, make sure to choose a buddy from your household or pod.

    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, face covering, 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 (5 in a row: diagonal, vertical or horizontal) will win a challenge sticker!
  • The first dedicated 5 people 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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