How to organize your own beach or park cleanup (or find one to join near you!)
It’s #EarthMonth and we’re ready to get our hands dirty to keep our planet clean! If you’re looking for Earth Day activities or things you can do for Earth Day, why not create your own cleanup event to contribute?
If you’re feeling inspired to roll up your sleeves and do your part for the future of our planet, here’s a quick guide with some useful resources for planning your own beach or park cleanup.
1. Select your location and check in with the local municipal organizations for help:
- Check in with the local parks and rec department to:
- Let them know your planned location for the cleanup and/or ask them to recommend a site to ensure you’re contributing where it’s most needed
- Ask where you should plan to discard the trash and recyclable items you collect at the cleanup. There may already be dumpsters on-site, or they may direct you to a local facility.
- They should also recommend how to separate all of the waste you collect and the best bags or containers to use for your cleanup, depending on where it will ultimately go.
- See if they have resources to contribute to your cleanup like supplies (e.g., gloves and bags), promotional support (e.g., digital bulletin boards with local event schedules, social media accounts that can promote the event), etc.
- Confirm if you need a permit –if you do, they’ll let you know and can help with that as well.
If you’re unsure of where to call, you can reach out to the local police station and they can help point you in the right direction.
2. Set your date & time
- Choose a date when more people will be available to join you and when the area won’t be crowded (avoiding holiday weekends is a good idea here).
- If it’s a warmer season or you’ll be cleaning an area without much shade like a beach, plan for an early morning or early evening event, where everyone will be more comfortable.
3. Gather a group
- Word of mouth is great for inviting friends and family and we suggest creating a Facebook event for your cleanup so they can share the details with their networks as well.
- The event page will also help you to see how many people to expect and make it easy to communicate with the group and share details and any changes for your cleanup.
4. Register your cleanup at EarthDay.org
- This also allows others in search of a cleanup to find yours and join your group (you can include your Facebook event link with the registration details)
5. Visit the site of the cleanup in the week or two before the event date
- Note any special instructions you may need to share to help everyone find the site
- Select a meeting spot- take a photo to share with the group just in case
- Determine if you need to make any signs to help people find the cleanup site or meeting point
6. Make and share your plan
At least a week before the event, plan and post an itinerary for the day along with some important details to help your group enjoy seamless day at the cleanup:
- Include the arrival time and meeting location plus the start and projected end times for the cleanup.
- Provide directions to the cleanup location by public transit and what the parking situation is for those who are driving.
- Share a list of supplies people should bring (and plan to bring extras for your group, just in case).
- At a minimum, we recommend bringing gloves, bags, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray and a first aid kit.
- Be sure to share the share specific bags for trash and for recycling that the local centers recommend.
- Remind everyone to wear clothes that will protect them from the sun and that they don’t mind getting dirty, and to wear closed-toe shoes for the cleanup.
7. Prepare for the day
- Buy extra supplies for the group and pack your first-aid kit.
You may want to bring water and snacks for everyone as well, to thank them for volunteering their time.
- For water, we recommend ZenWTR Alkaline Water, of course! ZenWTR is the world’s only beverage in bottles made from 100% recycled, certified ocean-bound plastic (every bottle is made from up to 5 recycled ocean-bound plastic bottles that were collected from coastal environments, preventing them from reaching and polluting the ocean). By choosing ZenWTR, you’re supporting other cleanups while you do your own!
- Make any directional signage needed to find the location
If you’re hosting a beach cleanup, download the CleanSwell App so that you can record the trash you collect that day.
- This also helps to provide insight for ocean conservation that is useful for researchers and policymakers alike.
8. On the big day!
- Arrive at least 30 minutes early to set up before everyone arrives.
- Distribute different bags for trash and for recyclables to make it easier for disposal at the end and make sure that, however the group spreads out, everyone has access to both types of bags.
- Be sure to take lots of “before” photos before you start, and “after” photos when you’re done.
Once finished, make a note of how much trash you collected, either in bags, or if you have a bag-scale, in pounds.
- If you cleaned a beach, be sure to log everything on the CleanSwell App.
- Divide the recyclables based on how they’re classed and how your local recycling facility prefers to receive them.
- Make sure you clean up all your supplies as well, and don’t leave anything behind
- Dispose of all waste appropriately.
- Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
Join another cleanup next!
If you’re feeling great about your work and want to contribute to another cleanup, we have some recommendations for some great organizations where you can help:
- If you’re in California, join Recycle for Vets, an incredible organization giving veterans a chance to recycle their leadership skills and continue their service in a different and equally important way.
- If you’re in NY, on Long Island, Long Beach Cleanups host weekly cleanups from Spring till the fall and invite new volunteers to join them any time.
- Across the country, you can find cleanups near you on Earthday.org and the SurfRider Foundation has chapters across the country hosting events and cleanups year-round! Click here to find your local chapter.
Whatever your Earth Month goals are, if you host or join a cleanup, commit to more consistent recycling habits, or switch your daily products to be more eco-friendly, every effort counts, and small changes add up to make big impacts! We wish you well and thank you for being thirsty for change!