How to Organize a Community Beach Cleanup

by 4ocean Team September 09, 2020

How to Organize a Community Beach Cleanup

International Coastal Cleanup Day is coming on 9/19! Here are a few tips to help you join the world’s largest volunteer cleanup event. 

International Coastal Cleanup Day was started by our friends at Ocean Conservancy as a way to promote global awareness about plastic pollution and drive action on behalf of the world’s oceans and waterways. Now, it’s the largest volunteer cleanup event that engages millions of people in 90 countries and across the United States! 

While COVID restrictions prevent us from hosting 4ocean Community Cleanups, we still want to empower every member of the clean ocean movement to participate in International Coastal Cleanup Day by cleaning up their local beach, park, or neighborhood. 

Whether you go solo, get the family involved, or spend the day with friends at a safe social distance, we want you to have our best tips and tricks so you’re ready to pull pounds and stay safe. Let’s do this! 

Before the cleanup

At least 80% of all marine debris comes from a land-based source. So even if you don’t live near the coast, you can still participate in International Coastal Cleanup Day. In fact, cleaning up your neighborhood is one of the best ways to prevent trash from entering waterways that will carry it to the ocean. 

Choose a safe waterway with lots of trash; areas with lots of traffic, parties, bonfires, and events are often the dirtiest.  Invite friends and family to make it fun and increase your impact (if it’s safe to do so).

Gather all the supplies you’ll need including:

  • Reusable trash bags to hold the trash you find
  • Gloves to protect your hands
  • 4ocean apparel to rep the clean ocean movement
  • A reusable bottle to stay hydrated
  • Reef-safe sunscreen, even if you live nowhere near the ocean
  • A grabber tool for gross or unsafe debris
  • A sifter for microplastics
  • A tarp for sorting

Fill your reusable water bottle and pack snacks in reusable containers.

Determine where you’ll sort and dispose of the trash you find in advance; you can use your curbside waste management program for most of the trash you find.

You can find out about recycling in your area by visiting Please note that most recycling facilities will not accept plastic grocery bags, but you can contact your local supermarket or major retailer (think Target) and ask if they have a plastic bag recycling program where you can drop off any bags you collect. 

During the cleanup

  • Wear thick gloves, a hat, lots of reef-safe sunscreen, and comfy, close-toed shoes

  • Take pictures of the area before you clean, while you clean, and when you’re done cleaning to document your progress and share on social media later

  • If you’re with a group, set a time and place where everyone should meet back up and have everyone set an alarm on their phone

  • Pick up anything that does not belong, including tiny microplastics (your sifter will be a great help with this!)

  • Drink LOTS of water! Cleaning up is hard work and you need to stay hydrated

  • Get a lifeguard or call your local wildlife service if you find an entangled animal

After the cleanup

  • Lay out your tarp, have everyone empty their reusable trash bag, and sort recyclables and trash into different piles

  • Take pictures of all the trash you collected to share on social media when you get back home

  • Rebag the recovered materials by type

  • Do a final cleanup of your sorting area and pick up anything that got loose

  • Dispose of plastics and trash at your predetermined location

  • Go home and wash your reusable cleanup bag and gloves; hang them to dry. Then do your laundry and take a nice, relaxing shower. You earned it! 

Always check local guidelines before you clean

Make sure you’re allowed to access the area you plan to clean ahead of time. In some areas, parks or beach access may be restricted at this time. Once the COVID crisis is alleviated, organizing larger cleanups (like a 4ocean Community Cleanup) will generally require a lot more promotion as well as approval from the city or county where you plan to host it. Contact your municipality for details.

We want to see the pounds you pull today!

Don’t forget to share your cleanup photos and tag @4ocean on social media using #InternationalCoastalCleanup. We can’t wait to see how much trash the clean ocean movement recovers! 

If you plan on participating in more cleanups in the future, we encourage you to invest in 4ocean Cleanup Kits, which include a reusable trash bag and a pair of gloves. If you want to rep the clean ocean movement while you pull pounds, definitely shop our apparel and drinkware. Of course, every product purchased funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines by our professional cleanup crews who are out there cleaning up seven days a week! 

Any questions? Email today!

4ocean Team
4ocean Team


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