We’ve hesitated to host a beach cleanup in the past because we always thought it would be a challenge to do it right. But we’re here to tell you there’s no need to wait to host an easy beach cleanup!
This Memorial Day And You Creations staff and ohana met up with a few friends to do a small-scale beach cleanup. In about an hour covering about a half-mile of sand, the group collected nearly 20 pounds of trash. Watch our IGTV video to see what we found:
Sadly, 20 pounds is a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated 14 billion pounds of trash dumped in the world’s ocean every year. But if everyone hosted a quick, easy beach cleanup each regularly then together we could make a difference.
You don’t need sponsors, a ton of people or fancy equipment. All you need is a couple of friends and some gear you can find in your own house to help make a difference at your local beach.
Why host a beach cleanup?
One garbage truck worth of plastic is dumped into our oceans every minute.
Scientists predict that by 2020 the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the amount of fish.
Plastics stick around in the ocean for millennia. Rather than biodegrading like some other trash, they just break apart into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics.
Lots of small fish and birds can’t distinguish these small bits of plastic from their food, or they accidentally end up eating it. And when bigger animals eat those fish they wind up with a multiplied amount of plastic in their stomachs.
Microplastics have even been found in humans.
If the problem seems daunting, well, it is. And the truth is hosting a cleanup won’t solve the problem.
But what it does do is help to bring more awareness to the problem.
You’ll think twice about ordering from companies that don’t offer sustainable utensils after you’ve picked up your 18th plastic straw and 50th chunk of styrofoam from your local beach.
When hosting a beach cleanup, remember that awareness is the most powerful impact. Take time to share the facts with your friends and offer suggestions on alternatives for single-use plastics in your own lives.
The truth is that the problem of plastic pollution (and all pollution) starts at the source. It all begins with our choices as individuals.
The best tool for building awareness is recognizing the problem. What better way to see the effects of pollution than to see firsthand what washes up with the tide?
How to Host an Easy Beach Cleanup
A beach cleanup can range from one person picking up trash by hand to a huge organization working through miles of coastline.
The best way to host your first easy beach cleanup is to find a happy medium.
Here is all you need to put together an easy beach cleanup:
- Reusable Bags or Buckets to Put the Trash In
- Try not to use plastic bags to carry the trash you pick up. Bring one eco-bag or large bucket for each participant and keep going until they’re filled up.
- There’s no need for a giant flatbed truck. Have everyone help out by throwing away their own trash bags.
- Make sure you bring along an extra container for recyclables! Find out what’s recyclable in your locality.
- Reusable work or Garden Gloves and Close-Toed Shoes
- Make sure you protect your hands and feet from glass or other sharp objects hidden in the sand.
- *Bonus* Wire Mesh Sieve to Sift Microplastics from the Sand
- As you’ve learned from this article, microplastics are one of the biggest problems for marine life on the beach. Every bit that can be removed is one less piece for a fish or bird to ingest!
- Microplastics can be hard to see, so it’s best to have a tool to sift the sand.
- Purchase 1/4 inch wire mesh or a wire mesh kitchen strainer from a local hardware store and cut it into 2-foot wide squares
- Ducktape the edges to protect your hands
- Make sure to keep your sifter to reuse at your next cleanup!
If you don’t live by a beach, host a trail or field cleanup! A big majority of trash travels from land to the ocean by way of rivers, so land cleanups are just as important.
We would encourage everyone to try hosting their own trash cleanup at least once. But if you’d rather leave it to the professionals, check out Ocean Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation or Sustainable Coastlines. Have a great cleanup event and mahalo for helping our oceans!