When you care about the planet, it’s hard to sit on the other side of the screen and watch what’s happening. When you don’t know what to do or where to start, it makes the news that much more frustrating to see — sea turtles ingesting plastic straws, beaches strewn with refuse. Knowing where to start is half the battle, and we’re here to help. Because there’s good news too — you can make a difference. And you don’t have to do it alone.
A beach cleanup takes the small gesture of picking up litter you see on your own outings to a whole new level. With more people on your side, you can cover more ground, collect more trash, and start making a serious dent in the trash on your area beaches. To get the most from your effort, we’ve put together this guide to help you organize a beach cleanup that’s productive and FUN and doesn’t leave the logistical details up to chance.
Here’s how to start organizing your own beach cleanup.
#1 — Start Planning Now
One of the biggest blunders eco-enthusiasts, with the best intentions, make is putting together events at the last minute. Most people work and have lives, and that means they need one magic ingredient to increase their chances of showing up: notice. Start planning as early as possible and give everyone at least a two week heads up so they can arrange their schedules and get it on the calendar.
#2 — Choose a Location
Next, it’s time to choose your location. There are a few factors you want to look at when deciding which area to cover:
- Private versus public access
- Proximity to bathrooms, gas, and amenities
- Distance from participants
Make sure the location you choose is within driving distance for participants and has plenty of parking (should your event goes viral, YAY!). You should also have a plan for bathroom breaks and getting back to the vehicles. Also, keep in mind that beaches don’t have addresses. When marketing the event, make the location extremely clear. Use a local landmark that will show up on Google Maps to ensure everyone meets in the correct spot.
#3 — Pick a Date
Now it’s time to pick a date. Take a look at the local events calendar to ensure there aren’t any big events happening on the date you’re considering. It may cause excessive traffic, parking issues, or lots of people could be milling around the beach. Forecasts can be unpredictable, so give it your best guess per the season’s norm and cross your fingers for the best.
#4 — Pick a Time
Low tide is ideal when it comes to gathering trash on the beach. This page will provide you with tide schedules, which you can use to set up an ideal time for your beach cleanup.
#5 — Plan to Bring Some Supplies
Ideally, all of your participants are going to bring everything they need, but there will inevitably be people who forget. To ensure everyone can participate, bring as many extra supplies as you can:
- Garbage bags
- Reaching tools
#6 — Promote It
Once you have the logistics figured out, it’s time to get the word out. Use social media to promote your beach cleanup:
- Share the event in Facebook groups (with admin permission)
- Create some cute graphics with a platform like Canva to promote the event
- Make posts on your own wall, make sure the privacy is set to public, and encourage friends and family to share away
Besides using social media, local beach businesses are likely to be super enthusiastic about helping you promote the event (and may even provide you with some freebies for participants!). Print some fliers off and ask if they’re up for putting them on the counter or posting them on their bulletin board.
As you put together your fliers and social media images, make sure you include all the details:
- Date, time, and specific location
- Exact area you’ll be covering
- Supplies list for participants
- Instructions on disposing of trash
- Notes on parking, bathroom access, etc.
- Plans for inclement weather
If you can, set up an event on Facebook and link to it in any digital fliers you create. It’ll give everyone a place to ask questions and allow you to post updates if anything comes up.
#7 — Dress for the Occasion
When it’s time for the big day, make sure you’re ready for the weather. Beaches are tough to walk on, so footwear is super important here. Aim for a flexible sole, and decide if you want it to be amphibious or waterproof.
If you’re tackling chilly beaches in the north, dress in layers and make sure what you wear is secured to your body and won’t drive you crazy amid the coastal winds. And of course, eyewear is incredibly important with the ocean glare. Don’t forget to bring sunglasses that offer 100 per cent UV protection.
#8 — Have a Plan for the Trash
When you reach the end of the line with your beach cleanup, make sure you have a plan for all the trash you’ve collected, and make sure all participants are aware of it. Beach trash receptacles may not have the capacity for what you need to dump, and local business dumpsters aren’t free for you to use. Talk to the local sanitation department if you need some help figuring it out.
#9 — Celebrate Your Hard Work
Cleaning up the world’s beaches is hard work, so make sure when you and your crew wrap up, you take the time to wash up and celebrate. Sit down for a beach side brunch and pat each other on the back — you’ve done something INCREDIBLE.
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