beach clean up Coca Cola bottle

Everything You Need for a Successful Beach Clean Up

Water covers 71% of Earth’s surface and plays an integral part in our planet’s health – show our Earth some love with a beach clean up! Whether you live near the ocean, a lake, or a pond, you can make a visible difference with a few supplies and a group of friends. With eight million tons of plastic finding its way into our oceans each year, there’s plenty to clean up at its shores.

What is a beach clean up?

As the name suggests, a beach clean up entails collecting plastic, trash, and litter from beaches. Sometimes people do a solo beach clean up, and other times it’s a large, orchestrated event. Of course, the more people who come, the bigger the effect!

Beach clean ups have become an unfortunate necessity in modern times. Of all the plastic waste ever created, only 9% has been recycled and 12% has been incinerated. The remaining 79% is now in landfills and our natural environment. The trash from on-land activities accounts for 80% of the beach debris found during cleanups. For more on how trash ends up in the oceans, check out my blog post here

global study by the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) on plastic waste and beaches reports that cigarette butts, with filters made from tiny plastic fibers, are the most common type of trash found on beaches. The runners up will come as no surprise:

  • Drink bottles
  • Food wrappers
  • Bottle caps
  • Drink lids
  • Grocery bags
  • Stirrers
  • Straws

Unsurprisingly, anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of the trash found on beaches are from food and beverage single-use packaging. The plastic cups, utensils, and straws that are so convenient for us don’t just disappear when we throw them in the recycling. This is why it’s so important to bring your own reusable cups and takeaway containers – and participate in a beach clean up!

beach clean up trash

What you need for a beach tidy

Ready to take action? Grab a few friends or orchestrate a larger event to make an even bigger impact. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Scope out the beach ahead of time: 

Make sure the beach you’re targeting can be accessed by the public, or get permission if needed. Visit the beach beforehand to plan where the group will meet and where you’ll put the gathered trash.

  1. Decide who’s in charge:

If you have a big group, it will be important to have a go-to person to keep everything organized, check-in volunteers, and make sure things are on schedule. 

  1. Decide what you’ll do with the trash

For recyclables, you’ll need to check with local recycling facilities to find someone to take in items. For hazardous waste, like medical waste, get a container with a wide mouth and lid. If you can’t get a hazardous waste bin, empty laundry detergent bottles work well, just be sure to label them.

  1. Get supplies

You’ll likely need trash bags, gloves, wipes, hand sanitizer, a first aid kit, and sunscreen. You may also want to provide (plastic free) snacks and water – it doesn’t hurt to reach out to local businesses and ask them to sponsor or support the activity.

Just like our larger environmental issues, it will take the effort of many to have a successful beach clean up. Get organized, grab your friends, and get out there – our oceans need you! What clean up efforts can you commit to today?

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful! As always, you can support me and the site by buying me a cup of coffee or sharing the site with a friend. Your support means the world to me!

Mia Hadrill
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