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Fighting for Trash Free Seas

Ending the flow of trash at the source

Fighting for Trash Free Seas®

Have you ever walked along a beautiful beach and been surprised to find a piece of plastic at your feet? You might be even more surprised to learn that together with volunteers like you, we’ve picked up more than 348 million pounds of trash in the last 35 years.

And the problem goes deeper than what you’re seeing on the beaches. Every year, 11 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 200 million metric tons that currently circulate through our marine environments. Ocean Conservancy has been at the forefront of the ocean plastics challenge for more than 35 years. Trash in the ocean has serious consequences for all of us, but there is hope. With your help, we can solve the ocean plastic crisis together.

348,887,395

pounds of trash collected since 1986

17,061,613

volunteers since 1986

Phasing Out Plastic Foam

Plastic foam is a disaster for our ocean and environment. Act now and say farewell to foam so we can protect our ocean and beaches for generations to come.

The Problem

Ocean trash affects the health of wildlife, people and local economies

Ocean trash affects the health of wildlife, people and local economies. Trash in the water and on the shore can be mistaken as food by wildlife, or entangle animals with lethal consequences. Plastic also attracts and concentrates other pollutants from surrounding seawater, posing a contamination risk to those species that then eat it. Scientists are studying the impacts of that contamination on fish and shellfish and as well as the possible impact it may have on human health as well.

“Plastics now pollute all dimensions of our ocean from the sea surface to the seafloor, on remote beaches and in Arctic sea ice. The impact ocean plastics have on marine species is well documented, but increasingly scientists are concerned about the potential threat of plastics to species at the top of the marine food chain: humans.”

Nicholas Mallos

Nicholas Mallos

Vice President of Conservation, Ocean Plastics, Ocean Conservancy

From plankton to whales, animals across ocean ecosystems have been contaminated by plastic. Plastic has been found in 59% of sea birds like albatross and pelicans, in 100% of sea turtle species, and more than 25% of fish sampled from seafood markets around the world.

Marine debris isn’t an ocean problem—it’s a people problem. That means people are the solution. Ocean Conservancy is committed to keeping our beaches and ocean trash free. For more than 30 years we have organized the International Coastal Cleanup®, where nearly 17 million volunteers from 155 countries have worked together to collect more than 348 million pounds of trash. And we’re not the only ones who care about ocean trash: Every day, all over the world, concerned people take the problem into their own hands by cleaning up their local waterways.

“Whether we work alone on a deserted beach or with a small group of our friends, we have the knowledge that we are part of a larger congregation. Our statistics join those of others in far off places we may never get to visit.”

Judie Hansen

Judie Hansen

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, organizer of Oregon’s first statewide coastal cleanup in 1984. Excerpt from Hansen’s Preface in Cleaning America’s Beaches: 1988 National Beach Cleanup Results

Tackling the problem of plastic in the ocean begins on land. Reduction in plastics use, especially of single-use disposable products, and the collection and recycling of plastics in developing countries can help to reduce the amount of plastic waste that enters the ocean.

The Solution

Ocean Conservancy has been bringing together passionate ocean lovers and helping them contribute to a vision for Trash Free Seas®.

“It’s about people – people all over the world who care about the health of our planet and who put that care into action. It’s about cooperation and coalition, sometimes between the unlikeliest of groups who, setting aside their differing viewpoints, work together for a larger common goal.”

1993 International Coastal Cleanup Results

1993 International Coastal Cleanup Results

There’s Hope!

Ocean Conservancy is leading the way with practical solutions

Ocean Conservancy is taking bold action, working to stop the flow of trash at the source, before it has a chance to reach the water to choke and entangle dolphins or endanger sea turtles, or ruin our beaches and depress our local economies.

Ocean Conservancy is leading the way with practical solutions that:

  • Empower people. We lead a movement of people taking concrete actions every day to protect our ocean. We’re bringing useful tips to people on every street corner, creek bed and coastal waterway to empower them to stop the flow of trash before it hits our shores.
  • Strengthen the science. Ocean Conservancy is leading scientific work with business and academic partners to improve our knowledge of the ocean trash issue.
  • Engage everyone in solutions. We can’t do this alone, so we’re bringing together leaders from industry, government, NGO partners and the scientific community through the Trash Free Seas Alliance® to bring systemic, durable solutions to the ocean trash issue.
  • Promote good policies. Ocean Conservancy built support for the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act and its companion bill in the Senate, the Trash Free Seas Act, to strengthen a national focus on marine debris.
Breaking Free From Plastic Pollution

Take action and urge your members of Congress to curb the plastic pollution and climate crises before it’s too late. Our ocean, our climate, our communities and marine wildlife are counting on all of us.

Protect Our Ocean from Plastics

Help us keep plastics out of our ocean and away from ocean wildlife with a donation to Ocean Conservancy today. Your gift supports plastic pollution-reduction efforts and all our ocean conservation work. Thank you.

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Make a Difference for Our Ocean

Support from donors like you is critical to develop solutions to our ocean’s greatest challenges, like plastic pollution, risky drilling and the climate crisis. Make a gift today to this essential conservation work and be a part of our vision for a healthier ocean. We can’t do it without you.

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