Bay Trash Hot Spots 2011: Say No to Plastic!

Plastic bags and polystyrene pollution choke wetlands at Damon Slough in Oakland.

It’s that time again! In conjunction with Coastal Cleanup Day this Saturday, Save The Bay announced its 6th Annual Bay Trash Hot Spots today, showcasing five creeks and shoreline areas that are polluted with plastic bags, polystyrene food containers (Styrofoam) and other trash. Trash continues to be one of the biggest threats to the San Francisco Bay as it gravely imperils wildlife, spoils water quality and harms public health. Further, plastic bags and polystyrene food packaging are some of the most visible and pervasive types of trash we see choking our wetlands, clogging waterways and degrading our recreational areas.

There is some good news, however. More Bay Area cities are taking the initiative to stop trash at its source by banning these wasteful and unnecessary disposable items. Save The Bay is urging all Bay Area cities to ban plastic bags and polystyrene to help reduce this toxic pollution flowing unchecked into the Bay.

This year’s Hot Spots are five Bay locations where Save The Bay and cities have identified high levels of trash:

  • Mission Creek in San Francisco
  • Guadalupe River in San Jose
  • Damon Slough in Oakland
  • Baxter Creek in Richmond
  • Pulgas Creek in San Carlos

These five sites were chosen because they are located in cities that are leading the regional effort to tackle trash through plastic bag and/or polystyrene bans. While we offer our kudos to these particular cities, other Bay Area cities must follow suit to make an impact on the health of the Bay.

So what can YOU do? Plenty! Save The Bay is asking members of the public to vote for one of the five Bay Trash Hot Spots. We will “adopt” the spot with the most votes and host a series of volunteer cleanups throughout 2012. Last year, Redwood Creek in Redwood City garnered the most votes. We have already completed two cleanups with over 100 volunteers and will host a third at this Saturday’s Coastal Cleanup Day.

Which spot will we adopt this year? It’s anyone’s guess. Visit our website to vote for the Hot Spot in your area and take action to eliminate trash from San Francisco Bay!

Redwood Creek Gets a Makeover!

Volunteers working hard at Redwood Creek

Volunteers came out in droves last Saturday to enjoy the sunshine and help clean up Redwood Creek in Redwood City! Over 50 local residents joined Save The Bay in picking up trash and debris along a section of the creek, which won Save The Bay’s Bay Trash Hot Spots “Adopt-a-Spot” contest back in September of last year.

In addition to plastic bags, Styrofoam, cigarette butts and fast food wrappers, our volunteers found fishing nets, paint cans and even a birth certificate! All totaled, 2,000 lbs of trash were removed from the creek.

Were you there? Check out photos from the event and tag yourself!

Read more about Save The Bay’s partnership with Redwood City and our continued efforts to prevent Bay pollution.

Save The Bay’s Trash Contest: Fun with Garbage

If you are reading this, you already know that trash is a serious pollution threat to people and wildlife in San Francisco Bay. This year, Save The Bay’s annual Bay Trash Hot Spots lists 225 creeks and shoreline areas identified by the cities themselves as having high levels of plastic bags, cigarette butts, fast food containers, old tires and more. Trash is a dangerous pollutant that harms wildlife, spoils water quality, threatens public health, and smothers sensitive wetland habitat.

In short, trash is a drag.

But we wanted to have some fun with trash this year. So we’re having a trash cleanup contest! Save The Bay is asking you to vote for one of seven selected Bay Trash Hot Spots for us to “adopt” and clean up in 2011. The contest sites were chosen based on several criteria, including proximity to heavily-used areas and major transportation corridors, habitat for endangered species, and Clean Water Act violations – and geographic distribution around the Bay Area.

So please vote for your favorite trash hot spot at And tell your friends – you don’t want your favorite spot to lose, right?

The contest sites are:

1. Damon Slough – if you drive 880, you know this spot. It is a mess, in part because it flows next to the Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Arena parking lots. I’m not blaming the Raider Nation – unless the can control the wind.

2. The Hayward Regional Shoreline, near where we are working to at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve to restore critical habitat for wildlife – not for garbage.

3. Fremont’s Mission Creek flows through the city’s Central Park, a major recreational area.

4. If you are tired of seeing San Jose’s Coyote Creek on our Bay Trash Hot Spot list, then vote for this spot and we’ll help clean it up.

5. The Guadalupe Slough Baylands are located within sensitive marsh habitat directly adjacent to the Bay. Bay critters do NOT like trash!

6. Redwood Creek flows through downtown Redwood City and accumulates trash from commercial and residential corridors. The creek is next to Bair Island, part of the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge which is being restored to tidal wetlands. Plastic and tidal wetlands do not mix!

7. Colma Creek flows through a variety of urban areas in South San Francisco and San Mateo County, including major commercial zones, high-traffic areas, and pedestrian corridors. Picking up trash all along the way.

While we try to have some fun with trash this year, Save The Bay is committed to working with cities to help stop trash at its source – by passing bans or fees on commonly littered items such as plastic bags, Styrofoam and cigarette butts, and installing storm drains devices to stop trash from flowing to the Bay and ocean. The most common litter items picked up in California last year included cigarette butts, food wrappers and containers and plastic bags. In fact, Save The Bay estimates that more than one million plastic bags pollute the Bay each year. Yuck.

The 225 hot spots come from new Water Board regulations require cities to eliminate hundreds of trash hot spots around the Bay. Cities in Santa Clara County identified 74 trash hot spots, with Alameda County cities picking 69 trash hot spots to call their own. There are 49 hot spots in Contra Costa County, and cities in San Mateo County submitted 31 hot spots to the Water Board. Fairfield, Suisun City and Vallejo are the three cities in Solano County that must comply with the Water Board’s provisions – these three cities selected a total of 10 trash hot spots.

We are excited that our Bay Trash Hot Spots event has grown over the years and is now the cities themselves (who never liked our calling out sites in their community, and who can blame them) that are identifying these trash-filled spots. So please, vote today and stand with Save The Bay against trash.

— Stephen Knight, Political Director