Cleanup water is vital. Oceans and lakes are the top of watersheds — areas encompassing any body of water divided by land. They then collect all of the waste that flows from the rivers feeding them, as well as any debris left behind on beaches by tides. Marine waste harms marine wildlife and habitat and has a negative impact on recreational and tourist activities.
But local communities can address this challenge through ocean cleanup community projects when you organize beach or community cleanups.
Coastal cleanup projects reduce the amount of waste on state beaches by literally removing litter and marine debris. Spring is a good time for cleanups, after the winter high tides have left behind plastic debris on our coast lines.
How to organize a Volunteer Beach Cleanup?
- Choose your beach site location. Make sure there is nearby parking and that it will be accessible to all volunteers
- Know your crew — do they need a big challenge cleaning an entire litter-covered beach or are they simply looking for a beach walk with the occasional pickup of debris to toss into their bag?
- Get permission from the site owner to host the cleanup. If applicable, contact the local government for permission to access the beach. Some locations might require a permit.
- Make sure to get in touch with Ocean Blue Project for tips — they’d appreciate any information you’ll be able to provide regarding your event.
During The Volunteer Beach Cleanup Event
- Organize your volunteers. Set up an arrival station for volunteers to check in and collect supplies. You might need them to sign liability waivers. Some volunteers may need volunteer hours validation, like high school students taking part in a volunteer program. Display a map outlining the cleanup area – you may want to target an especially dirty area of the beach, as the impact of the cleanup will be even more drastic. Make sure to supply sunscreen, drinks and goodies like t-shirts or other swag. Set a completion time and place for volunteers to meet at the end of the event.
- Collect the debris. Leave any wood, shells or ocean materials in place. Separate waste from reusable material with recycling in mind.
- Remember: safety first. Inform folks to watch out for hazardous materials, dead or entangled animals, broken glass and other sharp objects. Tell volunteers to make sure fire pits are cool before touching. You can educate them about potentially toxic plants or animals they might find. Also, make sure minors are supervised by adults at all times. Have first-aid kits and directions to the closest hospital ready — Better to be smart when working around water with waves! Keep off of logs and always face the ocean. Be aware that there may be water quality concerns, rip currents or sneaker waves.
- 4. Know your surroundings. Be aware that depending on where your beach is located, there may be sensitive areas dedicated for wildlife. A general rule is to keep off of sand dune or grassy areas where endangered birds may be nesting. Leave wildlife alone, even if you see a stranded seal on the beach. Sometimes a mother seal will leave her calf on the beach so she can grab a bite to eat and will not return if she sees you on the beach near her calf. Leave turtles and their nests alone while you are on the beach.
- Use social media to share your impact and spread awareness. Encourage others to help come up with innovative solutions to reduce ocean pollution and single use plastics.
Once the cleanup has finished, take down your displays and tables and collect the litter. Document your litter — weigh it and make note of any shocking, fascinating finds, or interesting plastic objects found.
Drop off your litter at your local recycling facility or requested drop off spot. Ensure that your crew has left nothing behind.