by KELLEY GUSICH | photos by Soul of Photography

Enjoying the Ride

Since 1991, Stew Aadnes has lived in Encinitas Highlands, which he loves because of the easy walk to Swami’s and downtown. He, his wife Jennifer, and his dog Minnie are in the same boat as everyone else in town when it comes to their enjoyment of the beach, surf, sunsets, and “the killer vibe from all the locals.” Stew shared, “The locals make this community! They welcomed me when I came here, so I try to welcome the newbies.” While Stew believes it would surprise people to know that he is a “clean freak,” it is actually somewhat evident through his volunteering. He is a site captain for the coastal cleanup organization known as I Love A Clean San Diego (ILACSD). The group does monthly cleanups and monthly fundraisers, with massive cleanup events every September and April.


Name: Stew Aadnes
Community: Encinitas Highlands since 1991
Volunteer Affiliation: I Love A Clean San Diego (ILACSD)
Profession: Site Manager/Engineering Technician for Geosyntec
Family: Wife – Jennifer; Killer smiling dog – Minnie
Interests: Surfing, snowboarding, playing guitar, and eating my wife’s vegetarian food
Favorite Spots in 92024: The 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro, Mozy Cafe, Via Italia Trattoria, Swami’s Cafe

volunteer_aadnes2Stew had always done ILACSD’s beach cleanups with his coworkers, but recently his boss Sam at Geosyntec had a different idea. “He asked if we could sponsor a site more inland and really get our hands dirty,” he explained, “as the creek sites are not as popular with volunteers and really need help.” The creek cleanups have turned into a huge accomplishment, with an enormous amount of trash scoured from Encinitas Creek – from shopping carts to paint cans to full containers of antifreeze. The hazardous waste ILACSD picked up would’ve eventually made its way downstream to the beach. “I like knowing that after one of our cleanups, the trash is in dumpsters and hazardous waste containers where it belongs,” Stew said.

When looking at total numbers for trash removed, you can really see the impact the organization is making in terms of volume. “The trash on the beach and upstream would never have been picked up if it wasn’t for ILACSD and all the volunteers,” he shared. If Stew could grant the community one wish, it would be for there to be no trash and to have everyone clean up after themselves. That way ILACSD could focus their resources on education in the classroom and clean green living for all. As it stands, the organization always welcomes new volunteer assistance. He has this advice for the community: “We can’t stop the changes. The secret is out. I think it’s best to remain calm and enjoy the ride.”

Group: I Love A Clean San Diego
Mission: ILACSD is an environmental catalyst inspiring action and empowering everyone to improve the health and beauty of the local environment.
Phone: 619-291-0103