Volunteering to pick up trash during Coastal Cleanup Day will give you a sense of accomplishment and perhaps motivate you to take further action.
Coastal Cleanup Day is coming up next week on Saturday, September 21. Millions of people will be joined together by a common mission—picking up trash—making their small part of the world cleaner, safer, and more beautiful for themselves and everyone else. You could be one of them.
This worldwide day of action will be taking place on thousands of miles of coastline as well as the banks of creeks, streams, and lakes, and even at a few parks. Chances are you can find an opportunity to participate in your own community or nearby.
Taking part in Coastal Cleanup Day is an ideal activity for first-time volunteers because generally all you need to do is slather on sunscreen, fill up your reusable water bottle, and show up. Many, if not most sites, will provide equipment like grabbers and buckets. Then after picking up trash for a few hours, you are free to hang out on your local beach, hike along a cherished stream, or take pleasure in a lakeside picnic lunch.
Bring your kids or grandkids along to this family-friendly event giving them a chance to help do something worthwhile, engage in some citizen science, and have fun with you outdoors.
During Coastal Cleanup Day, you will be acting as a citizen scientist recording the type of trash you are picking up or sorting and categorizing it afterward. This data is useful for understanding the volume and makeup of trash so that we can collectively work on solutions to reduce and hopefully eliminate trashing our oceans and waterways.
Consume consume that’s all we doRobert Becerra, Grade 1, La Puente (2017 California Coastal Commission Student Art & Poetry Contest)
We take and take and don’t regret
We need to know what’s best at end
Our oceans are at risk today
Because of all the things we toss away.
Why Should You Pick Up Other People’s Trash?
Humans seem to be the only inhabitants on Earth who litter, meaning that we produce waste that is not used by another organism for food, habitat, or other purposes and that we leave it lying about wherever we go.
Of course, you and I do not litter. It is the other people who do. So, why should you and I pick up other people’s trash?
Well, er, because instead of just being ticked off about litter we can empower ourselves to do something about it. I cannot think of any downside to there being less trash on beaches, along creeks, or in the oceans.
Perhaps you are thinking “Well, duh, I don’t need you to tell me that I can pick up litter if I want to.” Maybe not, but it is possible that you see litter without really seeing it or recognizing that you can do something about it.
That is how it was for me before participating in Coastal Cleanup Day in 2017.
Spending several hours with my spouse picking up and collecting trash on a beach where we live on the Central California Coast left an impression on me. If you are interested, you can read about it the post entitled Coastal Cleanup Day – Picking up Litter is Empowering.
Now, I see litter as something I can positively impact through my own choices and by picking up litter and throwing it in a recycle bin or trash can.
On the Way to the Post Office
Over the Labor Day weekend, our small town held its annual 3-day Pinedorado festival.
That Sunday, at the Pinedorado, my spouse and I bought some raffle tickets, savored slices of olallieberry pie (mine had vanilla ice cream on top), and purchased a potted plant from the garden club. Locals and visitors alike seemed to be enjoying the balmy weather, games, music, food, and the car show.
A few days later, I encountered remains of the weekend as I was walking from my house to the post office. Beneath a bush, I spotted a couple of deflated balloons tied together with a ribbon. They had been part of colorful columns marking the Saturday parade route, but apparently, some of them had escaped the cleanup crew.
I picked them up and resumed my walk carrying them in my free hand. Within a span of a few minutes, I discovered and picked up three more balloon clusters. When I reached the downtown area, I put the balloons in the first trash can I came across.
Did anyone see me picking up these balloons, carrying them down the street, and then putting them in the trash can? Maybe or maybe not. It does not matter. What matters is that there are fewer balloons floating around town that could have been ingested by a toddler, a pet, or the local wildlife.
You may be scoffing or rolling your eyes thinking “She picked up a few pieces of litter. Big deal.” The thing is you could do it, too. Imagine if everyone did. Picking up other people’s trash shows that you care about where you live, work, or visit.
Sign Up for Coastal Cleanup Day in Your Community
Where I live in San Luis Obispo County, CA, a local nonprofit called ECOSLO organizes and runs our cleanup days. This year we are having a Creeks to Coast Cleanup Day with events taking place at beaches, creeks, and lakes across the county.
My spouse and I volunteered to pick up trash along the banks of Santa Margarita Lake. After we finish our stint as volunteer trash collectors, we will enjoy the rest of the afternoon paddling our kayaks around the lake. Community service mixed with fun. What could be better?
To find an event near where you live type “Coastal Cleanup Day” and the name of your town into your Internet web browser, sign up for a location that interests you, and then show up the day of the event.
No beach, creek, or lake to clean up where you live? No worries pick a street in your neighborhood, a parking lot at work, or a local school playground and pick up trash there.
You may be pleasantly surprised by how rewarding picking up trash can be.
Featured Image at Top: a Fish sculpture made with pieces of trash found on a beach – photo credit iStock/SolStock.
- 4th of July – Patriotism and the Environment
- All Americans Should Visit a Landfill
- Anaerobic Digesters are Good for the Environment
- Are You an Aspirational Recycler?
- Coastal Cleanup Day – Picking up Litter is Empowering
- Every Day Should Be America Recycles Day
- It is Your Community, Go to a Public Meeting
- Life after Cancer – Volunteering
- Minimalism – Living More Lightly on the Planet
- Your Community Parks, Open Spaces, and Gardens Need You
- Beach clean-up study shows global scope of plastic pollution – by Laura Parker, National Geographic, 10/10/18
- Coastal Cleanup Day – California Coastal Commission
- ECOSLO Creeks to Coast Cleanup (San Luis Obispo County, CA)
- International Coastal Cleanup Day – Ocean Conservancy
- Pick up Litter – Day 12 of the Zero Waste Challenge – by Kathryn Kellogg, Going Zero Waste, 01/12/19
- To the Beach and Beyond: Breaking Down the 2018 International Coastal Cleanup Results – by Allison Schutes, Ocean Conservancy, 09/04/19
- What I’ve Learned as a Volunteer Trash Collector – by Drew Housman, The Simple Dollar, 12/13/17
- World Cleanup Day