How to Prepare for the International Coastal Cleanup

Your guide to preparing for the biggest coastal cleanup day of the year

It’s that time of year again: the International Coastal Cleanup is right around the corner! In less than two weeks, hundreds of thousands of volunteers will come together to pick up trash from coastlines and waterways all across the globe. When it comes to our ocean, marine debris poses a serious threat to wildlife, ocean-based economies and coastal communities alike. To push back against the growing global ocean trash problem and help ensure a healthy, trash-free future for our ocean, what we really need is simple: the help of people like you.

Last year, we had more than one million volunteers remove approximately 23 million pounds of trash from coastlines and waterways around the world in just one day. From riverside areas in completely landlocked states to the coasts of almost every single continent, the impact of volunteers last year was absolutely enormous. This year, we’re hoping to not only replicate that success, but magnify it. We know that each and every year, our success can be even greater because of the cleanup commitments of ocean advocates like you.

We could not be more excited for the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), which will take place this year on Saturday, September 21st. As the largest single-day ocean cleanup event in the world, the ICC is not only near and dear to our hearts, but also something that takes a lot of prep work to get ready for! From our top executives to local cleanup captains, every person working to ensure the International Coastal Cleanup is a successful, inspirational and memorable event knows one thing for sure: volunteers are the ones who make this all possible!

And that got us thinking. While we’re over here planning and prepping for one of Ocean Conservancy’s biggest days of the year, what might volunteers need to know in order to get ready for this game-changing day? Don’t worry, friends: no matter if you’re planning on volunteering in California, Norway or Indonesia, we’ve made a list of everything you need to know to prepare for the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup. Let’s do this!

Find your cleanup.

Whether you live in Florida, Colorado or even Norway, there are hundreds of cleanups all across the globe that you can join. Check out our Sign Up To Clean Up map and find a location near you!

Read up on last year’s cleanup findings.

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At last year’s International Coastal Cleanup, we had more than one million volunteers collect upwards of 23 million pounds of trash in just one day. From cigarette butts to straws to plastic food wrappers and more, find out what you might anticipate finding at this year’s cleanup based on last year’s findings.

Gather your crew for #TeamOcean.


When it comes to coastal cleanups, the more hands on deck for our ocean, the better! Share a message to your social media profiles about why you’re signing up to clean up your local waterway or shoreline. Not only is it a way to give back to our ocean—it’s also a great way to spend time with family and friends while participating in a fulfilling cause.

Be sure to come prepared on cleanup day.

Joy Asico:Asico Photo - 3

Both for your own comfort and safety and the safety of our coastal ecosystems, we’ve got a few tips to share to make sure you have a fun and successful cleanup day. Wear comfortable, closed-toed shoes or sturdy sandals to make sure you’re able to move around without discomfort. Don’t forget to slather on some reef-safe sunscreen to protect your skin during the event, and bring a reusable water bottle to ensure you stay hydrated while out in the sun. It’s incredibly important to stay hydrated at cleanups, so make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after the event (most cleanups will have reusable jugs available for you to refill and rehydrate throughout the course of your time there).

Download the Clean Swell app before heading to the cleanup.

With our Clean Swell app, you can instantly upload information about what trash you collect to our global ocean trash database. These data provide insight to everyone from researchers to policy-makers as we all work towards preventing ocean trash from occurring in the first place. The app is available for both iPhone and Android, so be sure to download it before your cleanup time to make logging the trash you pick up a breeze. Cleaning up in a remote area? No problem! Clean Swell has the ability to function fully without cellular service or Wi-Fi.


#TeamOcean is a team effort; be sure to follow the instructions of your cleanup leaders.

Ben Hicks

After signing in and meeting your fellow team members at your local cleanup, be sure to identify your cleanup leaders and listen carefully for important instructions from staff. They’ll be there to help advise you on best practices for cleaning up and will make sure you know what to do if you see something that looks difficult to carry or dangerous to handle.

Don’t forget to bring your trash back to be weighed.

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Without calculating an approximate total weight of the trash we collect at each and every cleanup, we wouldn’t be able to estimate our total impact on our ocean’s coastlines and waterways each year. It may sound tempting to take the trash you find directly to a recycling location, but your cleanup leaders know just what to do with it and how to properly weigh it, so it’s best to just bring it back to them and show off how much you were able to pick up.

Spread the word about how you played your part on #TeamOcean this year!


Being a part of the #TeamOcean movement is definitely something to be proud of! Help us grow ocean advocacy even further by sharing your photos from the cleanup on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #TeamOcean. Here’s a sample post to get you started:

“So happy to join Ocean Conservancy at the International Coastal Cleanup today in [Miami, Florida]! Proud to be a part of #TeamOcean and work to pave the way for a cleaner, healthier future for our ocean.”

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