How You Can Participate in International Coastal Cleanup Day
Here at Stasher, we’re all about saving what matters — and saving our oceans and beaches from trash (especially the plastic kind!) is perhaps what we're most passionate about.
September 16th is International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICCD), and we’re excited to hit the beach and tackle this problem with our own two hands! This initiative, created more than 30 years ago by Ocean Conservancy, spans over 100 countries around the world. Since ICCD's beginning, over 17 million volunteers working with organizations across the globe have collected more than 350 million pounds of trash to help protect our oceans and marine life.
Since you’re part of the Stasher fam, we have a feeling you’ll want to get involved.
Can’t attend an event in your area? We’ve got you covered, too. Read on!
If You're Near the Coast
If you live in or near a coastal community, chances are there’s a Surfrider chapter or student club near you. Find your local chapter or club here or on Facebook.
If there are no scheduled events in your area, or you’d prefer to clean up alone or in a small group, you can still join the movement by visiting Surfrider’s Beach Cleanup Activist Guide, downloading a data collection card and heading to the beach. As you clean, use your data card to record and report your findings, so that Surfrider can track the different types of litter being found on your local beach. Submit your cleanup data and learn more about the most commonly found items at Surfrider beach cleanups throughout the country by visiting cleanups.surfrider.org.
If You're Inland
Not near a beach? We feel you. Consider picking up trash along rivers and lakes, on public lands, in your local park, or around your neighborhood. Since all waterways ultimately lead to the ocean, the litter in your area may very well find its way to the ocean via rivers, streams, and even storm drains, where it can eventually entangle, or be mistaken for food by, coastal and marine wildlife. By picking up trash where you live, you can help prevent it from ever making its way into the ocean or your local waterways.
Scientists estimate that approximately 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based sources, so cleaning up your neighborhood is as important as heading to a beach to pick up trash — as it may just end up there anyway. Here are some helpful tips for organizing a community cleanup.
Why Your Participation Matters
So, why is cleaning up trash from our coasts and communities so vital to our environmental health? Marine debris is one of the biggest threats to the health of our ocean and sea life, and scientists estimate that plastic pollution accounts for up to 80% of marine litter. Ideally, as a society we'll eliminate plastic at the source before its impact is amplified, but we also have to combat the massive amounts of plastic already in our ecosystem.
In fact, virtually all the plastic that has ever been created still exists today in some form. Instead of biodegrading like organic materials do, plastic photodegrades, or breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces as it’s exposed to the elements, and persists in the environment even once the pieces — or microplastics — are too small for the naked eye to see. 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. When plastic 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 other seafood. Marine life can also become entangled in plastic that ends up in the ocean, causing the death of more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year, according to UNESCO.
With the data collected at beach cleanups, Surfrider’s vast network of volunteers and activists (like you!) are able to illustrate the different types of pollution being found on our beaches, which supports their advocacy for policies and legislation to reduce pollutants from the source. Learn more about how Surfrider staff and chapters turn data into policy in Surfrider’s annual Beach Cleanup Report, and take further action by supporting the federal Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act here.
What You Might Find at a Cleanup
If you’re on the beach, what can you expect to find? According to Surfrider, so far this year, the 10 most commonly picked up trash items are cigarette butts, plastic and foam fragments and food wrappers, followed by all things plastic — beverage bottles, caps, straws and stirrers... Notice a trend?
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 in a Stasher bag or reusable container, bring a water bottle, hand sanitizer, and invest a few bucks into reusable gloves (gardening gloves work great). We don’t want to be creating waste while we are trying to pick it up (or, like, ever…).