Around the world on International Coastal Cleanup Day, September 17, people will flock to beaches to clean up their countries’ coastlines.
“For more than 35 years, 17 million volunteers have joined the International Coastal Cleanup to collect more than 350 million pounds [about 160 million kilograms] of plastic and debris, all the while recording what they find and helping inform research and legislation across the world,” says the Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that helps develop ocean policy around the world.
Cities across five continents will be joining together to find nearby beaches to clean of plastic and debris.
The world produces about 272 million metric tons of plastic waste each year. More than 8 million metric tons of that waste makes its way into the ocean annually and washes up on beaches around the world.
That much waste makes volunteer beach cleaners essential.
The Ocean Conservancy offers tips for organizing and safely executing a trash pickup, including:
- Using protective gear to clean up trash.
- Logging the trash through the Clean Swell app and taking photos.
- Properly disposing of waste.
- Sanitizing hands and tools after cleaning up.
Cleaning up the coasts year-round
Civilians aren’t interested in beaches only one day per year — there are scores of year-round cleanup efforts.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funds some efforts, including:
- Removing debris from the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean.
- Reducing marine debris from the Maine coast.
- Cleaning up 80 kilometers of shoreline in Yakutat, Alaska.
- Removing fishing gear from the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington state.
“The ocean is our lifeblood, impacting a $500 billion global economy and the livelihoods of 1 out of every 10 people in the world,” Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said in April. “Millions of citizens around the world depend on the ocean for their protein and livelihoods, realizing the ocean is a delicate ecosystem that must be protected.”