How You Can Participate in Coastal Clean Up Day

September 21 is Coastal Clean Up Day, and we are excited to hit the beach! This initiative, created by Ocean Conservancy, started over 30 years ago and includes over 100 countries across the globe. Last year alone, the day had over 1 million volunteers cleaning up, protecting our oceans and marine life.

Since you’re part of the Stasher fam, we have a feeling you might want to get involved. There are several easy ways to participate, and the best part is, anyone can do it!

If you're on the coast

You can play your part by downloading the Clean Swell app and heading to the beach, recording the trash you pick up so Ocean Conservancy can track the day’s progress. You may also want to check to see if your community has an organized initiative going on. If they don’t and you want to rally your community, you can organize a group clean up initiative as well. This helpful article outlines the important steps to organizing a cleanup including finding a location, communication with your group, what to bring, what to do with the waste you collect, and more. There are lots of details, but Ocean Conservancy offers several useful guides to make it easy.

coastal clean up day 2019

If you're not 

Not near a beach? I feel you. Even if you can’t volunteer on a coast or beach, consider picking up trash in your local park or neighborhood. The litter in your backyard may very well end up in the ocean — as Ocean Conservancy points out, “all waterways lead to the ocean.” Here’s how they break it down: a plastic bag that ends up in the trash in your city may blow out of the trash can and into a sewer system. From there it will travel into the ocean where marine wildlife may mistake it for food. By picking up trash where you live, you can prevent it from making it’s way to the water.

According to UNESCO, 80% of debris in the ocean comes from land-based sources. So cleaning up your neighborhood is as important as heading to a beach—as it may just end up there anyway.

Why your participation matters

So, why is cleaning up our trash and our coasts so vital to our environmental health? Marine debris is one of the biggest threats to our marine life and oceans, and plastic plays a huge role. Ideally, as a society we will eliminate plastic before the impact amplifies further, but we also have to combat the massive amounts of plastic already in our ecosystem.

In fact, all the plastic that has ever been created still exists since it takes hundreds of years to degrade. Even if we don’t see plastic when we go to the beach, it is there — it has been broken down into microplastics in the sand and water. I When it ends up in the ocean, marine life often mistakes it for food, and eats it. Not only does that threaten the life of the animal, but it also ends up on your plate when you order sushi or enjoy fish. Marine life can also get entangled in the plastic that ends up in the ocean, causing the death of more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals, according to UNESCO.

What you might find at a cleanup

If you’re on the beach, what can you expect to find? According to the Ocean Conservancy, the top 10 most picked up trash included cigarettes (by far!), followed by food wrappers, then straws and stirrers, utensils, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, plastic grocery bags, other plastic bags, plastic lids, and plastic cups and plates. Notice a trend? The year 2017 was the first year that all top 10 most picked up trash items were plastic, and it continued last year as well.

Coastal Clean Up Day 2019 Waste Examples

Preparing for your cleanup 

Speaking of avoiding plastic, as you’re cleaning up, don’t forget to be prepared with your zero waste supplies! Bring your lunch and snacks with you in a Stasher bag or reusable container, bring a water bottle, and invest a few bucks into some reusable gloves. We don’t want to be creating waste while we are trying to pick it up (or, like, ever…).

Get involved

Are you participating in Coastal Clean Up Day? Let us know! Tag us on Instagram as you clean up. We’re proud to be playing a role in the plastic-free movement with you!


This post was written by Sara Weinreb. She is the host of the Medium Well podcast, sustainability and design thinking consultant, contributor at Forbes, and shares it all on Instagram @saraweinreb 

Want to join the #StasherSquad? Follow us on Instagram and show us how you're using your Stasher bags to help reduce single-plastic use! 


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