As you gear up to head out to the beach this summer, consider the impact you can make on the environment by becoming a beach cleanup volunteer. It’s no surprise that, during the summer months, beach pollution is at its height. It’s the perfect time to get active and do your part to protect the health and beauty of the beaches you love.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, more than eight million metric tons of plastic is found in the ocean every year. All too often, bits and pieces of plastic are mistaken by marine life as food. Compounding this problem is the fact this plastic attracts toxic contaminants that, when ingested, become lethal for ocean creatures.
Beyond plastics, items like cigarette butts, glass bottles, and foam containers can also wreak havoc on the coastal ecosystem. There are, thankfully, ways to help mitigate this unfortunate situation. Education is the environment’s first defense, along with taking action. Every action counts! If you have a calling to add your muscle to the efforts to protect the surf and sand, read on to learn how easy it is to become a beach cleanup volunteer.
Beach Cleanup Resources
Volunteer Match has a practical search tool to help you find cleanup events in your area. The Surfrider Foundation has local chapters on both coasts and is a great resource both for education and for joining a beach-cleaning event. You can contact local, state, or national non-profit organizations like the Ocean Conservancy that arrange large-scale shore cleanups. For your best results, check with your local aquarium or parks and recreation department to see if they have any cleanups on their calendar.
How You Can Make a Big Impact
Consider organizing a beach cleanup through your child’s school. You can even create sponsorship opportunities based on how much trash each child or classroom collects. This is a great way to inspire families to make a difference, and it sets children up for a lifetime of inspired giving back to the planet.
Gather your friends, family, and neighbors to form your own weekend cleanup. Create a flier to send to potential volunteers about where to meet and what to bring. You may even want to make it a monthly event and encourage your volunteers to spread the word for even greater impact. When you’re finished, host a trash-free, eco-friendly beach picnic to enjoy after all your hard work protecting the sand and sea.
Another way to keep your beach clean is to give some attention to the waterways that lead into the ocean. Much of the trash you see at the beach has traveled there from another source. It’s imperative to keep streams and rivers that lead to the ocean free from garbage and other pollutants. Focus some of your volunteer efforts on upstream pollution, including storm drains. Imagine the positive environmental impact of cleaning up the beaches or waterways, one local community at a time.
Of course, the best defense for keeping the beaches clean is to not create litter in the first place. Efforts like recycling, plastic-free packaging, and the movement to ban plastic grocery bags are definitely making their mark, but there’s still a long road ahead in the management of beach pollution. Your personal anti-pollution efforts may seem small, but they really do make a difference.
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This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.