Around 150 volunteers removed trash — and helped build the trash-based entrance — at Border Field State Park on Saturday, October 12. Over a ton and a half of refuse and 130 tires were pulled out of Goat Canyon, just inside the park entrance.
A bi-national group called 4Walls International, which reuses soda bottles and tires as fill for inexpensive and livable structures, worked with volunteers on the redesigned entry to the park, building the cores of benches with plastic bottles full of trash.
Steven Wright and Waylon Matson led a crew that added the layers on top of foundations they'd prepared earlier in the week. Wright and Matson said they paid kids from Los Laureles Canyon five pesos for each bottle full of trash, creating and incentivizing their own private Tijuana CRV program while they recycled the materials.
"These guys [4 Walls International] are really committed to the idea of finding a use for plastics and tires that would otherwise end up in a landfill," said Roderick Michener, a Surfrider Foundation board member who participated. "It's good material: the same thing that makes it bad for our oceans — that it doesn't break down — makes it great for construction."
When the work is completed, the soda bottles will be completely coated in stucco and will not be visible.
Inside the park, volunteers gathered by Surfrider, WiLDCOAST, and from La Jolla High School and Southwestern College hauled out plastics, tires, and every kind of trash one can imagine. While much of the trash originated in Mexico, in the impoverished Los Laureles Canyon, Michener said that most of the tires were from the U.S.
"We followed the used-tire trail and found that most of the ones we pick up are tires we paid a recycling fee to have properly disposed of but that ended up in Mexico," Michener said. "They weren't useful for long and they weren't properly disposed of and they ended up back in the U.S., where they started."
The three-hour effort wrapped up Tijuana River Valley Action Month, a series of events where hundreds of volunteers took part in the removal of five tons of trash and worked on plant restorations throughout the river valley.