Millions of pounds of trash turn up on beaches all over the world each year. According to the Ocean Conservancy, trash in the ocean kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles each year. Trash, pollution, climate change, and damage to coastal habitats take their toll on marine life, oceans and beaches.
According to the United Nations, oceans are filling up with trash at an alarming rate. Litter can find its way into the world’s bodies of water no matter where a person lives, as much of the trash that empties into oceans comes from rivers and other waterways far from the sea. Trash also ends up in the water when boaters and beachgoers throw their trash directly into the water.
People flock to the seaside in record numbers throughout summer, when the amount of trash on beaches increases exponentially. After the season is over, cleaning up the beach can help remove garbage that has the potential to harm wildlife. Here’s how to get started.
Research conservancy groups. National parks and other conservancy organizations may host pre-organized beach sweeps. These groups always welcome new volunteers. Give them a call or visit their websites to find out more about how you can become a part of their next clean-up efforts.
Organize your own clean-up day. Get a group together and plan a meeting location for your own beach clean-up efforts. Comb a beach, paying special attention to plastic trash, which makes up 80 percent of the items that wash up on beaches. Wear rubber gloves and carry garbage bags. Several people working together can comb miles of beach and eliminate pounds of trash in a single, well-organized effort.
Make it a community service project. Various groups, including many scouting troops, include community service as part of their badge-earning efforts. Speak with officials at local schools to determine if students can sign up for beach-cleaning projects in exchange for credits or to fulfill any service requirements they may have.
Report your findings. Catalog which types of trash are most common and report that information to an ocean conservation group. This information will be helpful when it comes time to compile statistics on ocean trash or to find the origins of garbage.