Nonprofit Organization:
I Love A Clean San DiegoBuilding Tenant Since:

Located at the Center for Civic Engagement Because:
“The Hoffman Room is a great space for training volunteer site captains for county-wide efforts, and we have strong relationships with other nonprofit tenants.”
Pauline Martinson, Executive Director, I Love a Clean San Diego

When she was 11 years old, Pauline Martinson swam under an ocean wave and immediately couldn’t see or hear anything. What caused the sudden loss of vision and hearing?

A plastic bag.

Upon emerging from the other side of the wave, Martinson disgustedly ripped the black bag away from her head and immediately thought: If this bag is harming me, what is it doing to our wildlife?

“From that moment it became my mission to get plastics out of the ocean and trash out of our environment,” she stressed.

Decades later, Martinson continues to live out her mission as Executive Director of I Love A Clean San Diego (ILACSD).

In her 10 years at the helm, she has formed countless partnerships with local corporations, foundations and government entities, and helped grow the organization from five staff members to 17, while increasing ILACSD’s annual budget from $400,000 to $1.3 million.

ILACSD’s Programs and Accomplishments

ILACSD’s programs and outreach continue to grow and make an impact county-wide.

As Martinson explains, “Everyone involved believes that while we’re on this earth, we should make it better.”

From its humble beginnings back in 1954 as the “War Against Litter Committee,” ILACSD has become one of the most influential advocates for sustainability in San Diego County.

I Love a Clean San Diego Infographic

Infographic – I Love a Clean San Diego.

Click to enlarge infographic

In 2015 alone, ILACSD’s educators delivered more than 700 presentations, fostering awareness for 30,000 youth and adults about waste reduction, pollution prevention and sustainable daily habits.

The organization’s one-stop recycling resource,, helped 12,500 San Diegans access local recycling services to dispose of more than 30,000 items, including 23,000 gallons of paint and motor oil.

Additionally, nearly 33,000 San Diegans volunteered their time to help remove 489,000 pounds of trash across the county during the organization’s cleanup events.

One of Martinson’s favorite cleanups was the first Bi-National Kids’ Ocean Day in February 2015, when 1,000 students from underserved schools in San Diego County and Tijuana cleaned up beaches on both sides of the border, sharing one common message: “Unite Por El Mar” (Unite For The Sea).

I Love a Clean San Diego Bi-National Kids Ocean Day

ILACSD creates environmental stewards through its programs to keep San Diego clean, such as the the first Bi-National Kids’ Ocean Day with over 1,000 students from San Diego County and Tijuana.

Most recently, ILACSD engaged close to 6,000 volunteers at a record 110 cleanup sites simultaneously at the 14th annual Creek to Bay Cleanup. During the three-hour event, volunteers helped improve the health and beauty of San Diego County by removing more than 150,000 pounds of trash and pollutants.

Volunteer Opportunities

Looking Ahead

In the coming months, ILACSD’s leadership team will focus on conducting new zero waste workshops, launching a zero waste database, and continuing efforts to strengthen and grow the reach of its programs.

According to Martinson, “We want to make sure San Diego remains the beautiful place it is and empower people to take personal responsibility to keep San Diego clean.”

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