From your backyard to the Bay, it’s time to cleanup!

In almost every city, trashy runoff flows directly into the Bay, untreated.

Distressing images of birds trapped in plastic debris and trash fouling beaches have sadly become common news stories. Events like International Coastal Clean Up Day (Saturday, September 16) and National Estuaries Week (September 16-23), bring much-needed attention to the cleanliness of our Bay, coastline, and waterways. But, often overlooked and not often discussed, is where the vast majority of this trash begins its journey to the Bay. When we look for answers we need to look further inland to one of the greatest sources of Bay trash… our city streets.

Trash is a daily and persistent threat to the health of our communities and neighborhoods. Illegal dumping creates chronic blight in many of our region’s neighborhoods, and city departments are struggling to respond in a timely manner. Homeless encampments lack access to trash bins, resulting in unsanitary and often dangerous living conditions. Trash is deliberately thrown on the ground and accidentally blows out of cars, garbage trucks, and trash bins.

The sources of trash are numerous, but the Bay is often the ultimate destination. Our streets are connected to the Bay through our storm drain system. In most places in the Bay Area, the grates you see next to the curb allow water and pollution to flow freely through a system of pipes that empty into creeks, rivers, and the Bay. Since stormwater does not flow to a treatment plant, all of the trash flowing through this system ultimately ends up in the environment.

Save The Bay has been working for almost a decade to keep trash out of the Bay, including advocating for regulations that require zero trash in city storm drains by 2022. Since most trash starts in our cities, our city leaders and local agencies must play a role in the solution.

The road to zero trash in the Bay is a tough one, but we are already seeing the positive impacts of our advocacy. In July, Save The Bay partnered with Oakland Community Organizations to advocate for additional funding in the city budget to prevent and respond to illegal dumping, a chronic problem that primarily impacts some of Oakland’s most underserved areas. Following pressure from Save The Bay, local and regional organizations, and the community, the city council adopted a budget that not only includes an additional $150,000 to address illegal dumping but also $1.6 million to place port-a-potties and clean trash from homeless encampments. The city also committed to installing trash screens in storm drains as a part of transportation projects.

This victory is only the beginning for our Zero Trash campaign. Like Oakland, cities and counties throughout the Bay Area need to secure additional funding to keep trash out of our neighborhoods and the Bay. Save The Bay is committed to advocating throughout the region to make the 2022 zero trash requirement a reality, and we hope you’ll join us by making a personal promise to reduce your trash footprint:

Four Simple Ways Your Can Reduce Your Trash Footprint!

 Thanks for all you do to help keep our Bay, coastline, and waterways, clean and healthy for all life. Stay tuned for opportunities to advocate for zero trash in your city.

Notes from the Field | A Legacy of Service

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

National Day of Service
178 volunteers planted 2,323 native plants to help restore the Bay over MLK weekend.

This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. encapsulates the importance of community engagement in our every day lives. His peaceful crusade against unjust war, poverty, and discrimination has inspired many individuals to act collectively to achieve real and just change in their broader communities.

Over the past weekend Save The Bay was an official participant in the National Day of Service in honor of MLK. One of our goals was to help re-vegetate a once barren levee in the Palo Alto Baylands. It was a beautiful, clear, and crisp morning and I was excited to have 50 volunteers from all walks of life.

I was struck by how naturally these people, who were complete strangers, worked together to reach a common goal. There were volunteers who took it upon themselves to haul mulch and water for everyone else to use. I saw some that realized the soil was tough for others to dig in, so helped them out by making the holes for our native seedlings. By the end of the day we had put over 800 plants in the ground! Everyone left with a sense of place and purpose.

Building a healthy and thriving community starts with the simple truth that we are all connected and we are all in this world together. Dr. King’s message of putting aside our individualistic concerns for the greater good reminds us that our community extends to everything around us — from the trees and birds to the Bay itself. Bay Area residents are blessed to be living in such a unique and wonderful place that provides us with food, water, commerce, and recreation. By actively engaging in our environment, like removing invasive species, trash cleanups, and planting native seedlings, we can begin to see the connection and impact we have on the ecosystems that sustain us. A healthy Bay means a healthy community.

Join the spirit of service by volunteering at one of our restoration sites throughout the Bay Area!


Save The Bay + GGAS = Birds and Plants

Birding with Golden Gate Audubon
Birding with Golden Gate Audubon

Save The Bay hosted a planting training day for the Golden Gate Audubon (GGAS) in exchange for a birding expedition at the Emeryville cresent.

As a trade off, GGAS led a birding trip for Save The Bay.  We saw White and Brown Pelicans, Coots, Grebes (Eared and Western), Canvasback, Surf Scooter, Ruddy Ducks, Egrets, Herons, Plovers, Shovelers, Cormorants, Avocets, Stilts, Willets, Dunlin, Sandpipers, Terns, Gulls and an amazing White tailed Kite.

Save The Bay demonstrated strategic techniques for the GGAS staff in teaching volunteers to plant natives. We also role played scenarios that are helpful in guiding volunteers.

This year, GGAS will be planting 750 native wetland plants along the Martin Luther King Jr. regional shoreline, all of which were grown at Save The Bay’s native plant nursery on site.

Save The Bay and Golden Gate Audubon are working together to enhance vital bird habitat at MLK Shoreline in Oakland. Both groups are working with other partners at other sites all over the Bay.

If you interested in getting  involved in birding trips or helping with Audubon’s Annual World Wide Christmas Bird Count, visit: