For a decade, Cathy Ives has been combing Mission Beach daily picking up trash. Now she has some help.
Approached by fellow Mission Beach residents Tony and Tim Sanfelice, the trio has launched a new citizen advocacy group, Don't Trash Mission Beach, donttrashmissionbeach.com. The new group held its first volunteer beach cleanup for South Mission Beach on Sept. 12.
That cleanup saw another community first: A Beach Trash Art Exhibit- Installation crafted of disposed of items, to bring awareness of beach trash and its impact on the environment. Don’t Trash Mission Beach promotes 'Pack It In and Pack It Out,’ along with personal responsibility and hopes that a community-visitor trash awareness campaign can precipitate change.
The Sept. 12 Beach Art-Trash Exhibit featured rescued items such as hundreds of shoes, towels, toys, and personal items. In addition, there were scores of other items like bottle caps, cigarette lighters, vaping materials, and other things carelessly left behind or purposefully left on the beach every day.
Speaking from a local laundromat where she was busy doing her regular routine washing towels she’d collected from beachcombing, Ives said of the Sanfelices, “They contacted me directly after they’d started picked up trash and realized how bad it was and that it’s a global issue, not just here.”
Noting she considers herself a “rescuer,” Ives added, “I pick up the big stuff, towels, beach toys. My goal is to get as much that’s reuseable and recyclable off the beach.”
Ives arises before dawn at 4 a.m. to begin beachcombing. She starts in South Mission Beach and works her way up the boardwalk.
Tony Sanfelice said he and Tim were inspired by Ives.
“We were blown away by her commitment to the community and decided to help out, but also to bring the experience of our branding and marketing company, the Felice Agency, feliceagency.com, to amplify her voice and turn her passion into a movement. Tim and I started picking up trash on our own after seeing so much of it carelessly left by people on the sand, near the shoreline, in the jetty, and in the park.”
"In the last three years, I have picked up over three tons of trash just in South Mission,” said Ives. “Fortunately, both Tim and Tony decided that a larger campaign was in order, and the three of us decided to launch Don't Trash Mission Beach. This coincides with PB Trash Pickers and PB Street Stewards, OB Street Stewards, and other beach trash advocates. We are all sick of the trashing of our neighborhoods, and so we thought we could raise awareness and advocate for change if we put our heads together."
Tony Sanfelice said they’re also developing another cleanup program where “you can adopt a court in Mission Beach. Eventually, when we have enough sponsors and donations, we’ll be able to get people grabbers and trash bags. We also have T-shirts that you can buy now on our website to help us out.”
Tony said he and Tim daily collect about 100 pounds of trash. “Cathy probably collects 300 to 500 pounds,” he said. “Last year, she picked up 53,238 items including 8,000 cigarette butts, 570 lighters and 509 pairs of shoes, as well as Styrofoam boogie boards and single-use plastic water bottle tops that are so dangerous to the environment and kill dolphins and sea turtles.”
Asked why she’s taken it upon herself to pick up other’s trash, Ives responded, “I hate waste. I hate the fact that so many people in need could use these things, which are just thrown away by our disposable society. I donate to animal shelters that need towels and blankets and to the homeless who deserve to have a warm place to sleep. I do it because it’s the right thing to do.”