Fighting for Trash Free Seas®

Ending the flow of trash at the source

Copy of Trinidad&Tobago_Dec2020_creditKeegan Callender. (61)

International Coastal Cleanup™

Harnessing the Power of People to Fight Ocean Trash

In partnership with volunteer organizations and individuals around the globe, the International Coastal Cleanup™(ICC) engages people to remove trash from the world’s beaches and waterways. Thanks to volunteers around the world, the ICC has become a beacon of hope, leading and inspiring action in support of our ocean. Since its beginning, over 16 million volunteers have collected more than 340 million pounds of trash.

Join Us for a Cleanup

For more than 35 years, the ICC has galvanized communities worldwide to collect trash that pollutes our waterways, making our coasts cleaner and our ocean healthier. This year, we’re making the ICC a time for people to reconnect with each other, the waters they love so much and Ocean Conservancy’s mission to keep our ocean free of trash. After so much time apart, let’s make the world’s largest volunteer effort to clean our waterways better together. Learn how you can join us to connect and collect at the 2021 ICC.

Learn More

  • In addition to cleaning beaches and waterways, ICC volunteers contribute to the world’s largest database on marine debris. See past ICC results here. 
  • Marine debris is one of the greatest threats our ocean faces, but luckily it is an issue with which we can all play a part in the solution. On our website, you’ll find useful outreach and education tools to review and download.

“What I have learned from the Cleanup experience, is that even though the Cleanup started in Texas with a small number of 2,800 volunteers… it has grown into a massive cleanup that involves both national and international volunteers all pitching in for the same common goal of cleaning up our coastal waters and taking care of our beaches. I am proud to be a part of this global movement and I appreciate all of the help and support I get from the Ocean Conservancy staff.”

Renee Tuggle
Texas State Coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup™, who has been involved since the very beginning.
Sorting marine litter for recycling - WMA
© Watamu Marine Association

History of the ICC

The International Coastal Cleanup™ began more than 30 years ago, when communities rallied together with the common goal of collecting and documenting the trash littering their coastline. The movement was catalyzed by the passion and spirit of two committed individuals. Back in 1986, Linda Maraniss moved to Texas from Washington, DC, where she had been working for Ocean Conservancy. She’d been inspired by the work her Ocean Conservancy colleague Kathy O’Hara was doing on a groundbreaking report called Plastics in the Ocean: More than a Litter Problem that would be published the next year.

Linda and Kathy reached out to the Texas General Land Office, local businesses and other dedicated ocean-lovers, and planned what would become Ocean Conservancy’s first Cleanup. They asked volunteers to go beyond picking up trash and record each item collected on a standardized data card in order to identify ways to eliminate ocean trash in the future.

The Cleanup has grown immensely in the 30 years since Linda and Kathy’s first Cleanup. Volunteers from states and territories throughout the U.S. and more than 100 countries come together each year and participate in a Cleanup event near them.

Over the years, this movement has created a family that spans oceans and country borders. It is a network that works together for something bigger than us. To our global network, we thank you.

More Information

Deadliest Year for Manatees

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