International Coastal Cleanup Day is all about, well, cleaning up our coasts. Plus, protecting our oceans and being all-around good stewards of our Earth. Each year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, hundreds of thousands of volunteers comb lakes, rivers and beaches around the world for trash. Over the course of nearly three decades, more than 9 million volunteers have collected nearly 164 million pounds of trash.
This year’s big event is Saturday, Sept. 17. Want to get involved? Getting started is simple. You can head out to any beach or seaside and start picking up trash.
Feeling more ambitious? Recruit friends and family to join you in a larger cleanup. Explain to them that no matter where you live—whether on the coast or thousands of miles away—all waterways lead to the ocean. But if we take action and work together, we can improve the ocean’s health and make trash free seas a reality. Here’s how the Ocean Conservancy suggests planning Coastal Cleanup Day:
Arrive early to set up, post signs and label your trash drop-off site. At your check-in station, ensure you have writing utensils and sign-in sheets ready for your volunteers.
What to Tell Volunteers
Emphasize the importance of data collection. This information is used to create a snapshot of the global ocean trash problem and influence long-term solutions. Ask volunteers to use tick marks to record debris items; words such as “lots” and “many” are not useful for data analysis.
To make data collection easier, suggest that volunteers work in small teams with each team focused on one data card.
Instruct volunteers on what to do if they encounter any hazardous items, such as sharp objects or dead, entangled or injured animals. Remind them of any local safety hazards, such as power lines or poison ivy.
Establish a point-person to stay at the check-in station in case of health emergencies or any late arrivals.
Tell volunteers what to do with the filled bags of trash, and set a meeting time for the end of the cleanup so that everyone returns at the same time.
Document the Cleanup
Take before and after photos of the cleanup site as well as shots of your volunteers in action and a final group picture with all of the trash collected.
If you have a scale with a hook, use it to weigh the trash collected. If you don’t have a scale, you can use a standard conversion of 15 pounds per trash bag to estimate the overall weight of your collected trash.
As the volunteers finish, collect all completed data forms.
Ensure all trash is left in the designated drop-off location and that no materials are left behind as you leave the cleanup location.