ocean beach cleanups

Beach Cleanups 101

By: Environmental, The Oceans

Did you hear that the Ocean Cleanup is preparing to get their plastic-cleaning system back in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch soon? The device, renamed “System 001/B,” has been back at the lab for months being repaired and upgraded. 

This massive cleanup device is a beacon of hope for the global movement to save our oceans from plastic, but let’s not forget one of sailing’s most important lessons: Sailors don’t rely on robots and engines to get things done. We roll up our sleeves and use the right combination of muscle and mother nature to get where we need to go. The same principles we apply to sailing should be applied to saving the ocean. We make the biggest collective impact by cleaning up our own communities ourselves. Here’s what you need to know to get out there and get started.

Beach cleanups are simple to organize and can be done any time, anywhere.

Cleanups aren’t special events reserved for eco-themed holidays like Earth Day and World Oceans Day. Cleanups can be anything from a large organized event to you and a few of your friends strolling the beach. I keep a few reusable bags and pairs of gloves in the trunk of my car, just in case there is a spontaneous need for them. Any time I hit the beach or walk the dog, I bring a bag along. “Plogging” is also a new trend of picking up plastic trash while jogging. (Finally, a reason to bring back the stylish fanny-pack!)

Cleanups bring passionate people together and provide economic value.

Gathering people together to clean up plastic trash at your local beach, park, or lake fosters more conversations about protecting the environment while beautifying your town. Clean natural areas bring in more tourism and improves quality of life for the locals. Environmental stewardship can be built into a community’s culture and provide lasting social and economic value in addition to benefiting the local ecosystem.

There are water protector groups everywhere who host cleanups, or you can host your own.

Surfrider has local chapters and student groups all over the country, 5 Gyres has a plastic-free Ambassadors program, and the Ocean Conservancy has a cleanup locator map for September’s Coastal Cleanup Day. 

Usually, an online search is all it takes to find a group near you. Try something as simple as typing “beach cleanup near me” or “water organization [your city name here]” into your search bar and browsing through the first few pages. 

You’ll be surprised to see how many other people out there share your desire to help! When you find a group that interests you, subscribe to their newsletter or follow them on social media so you can join their events.

If you prefer to dance to the beat of your own drum, you can always use social websites like Facebook Groups or Meetup to start your own cleanup crew!