Ocean Beach, San Francisco
Photo credit Alison Taggart Baron-NPS
The California Coastal Commission is working to make California Coastal Cleanup
Day even "greener." What does this mean? The Cleanup brings out tens of thousands
of Californians who remove more than a million pounds of debris from our beaches,
rivers, creeks, lakes, and waterways - so, the net environmental impact of the event
is tremendously positive. However, the event itself has an environmental footprint.
For example, in 2009, Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers used more than 130,000 plastic
bags and 135,000 plastic gloves during Coastal Cleanup Day. Countless cleanup sites
held barbeques, lunches or snacks for volunteers, and many of these generated additional
packaging and food-related waste. Thousands of volunteers drove cars to their cleanup
sites around the state.
The Coastal Commission is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of Coastal
Cleanup Day, but we need your help to do so! Please join our efforts this year by turning
out to the Cleanup with a "Bring Your Own" philosophy. Over one-third of all cleanup
participants brought at least one reusable item from home to the Cleanup in 2013 and as a result,
the Coastal Commission was able to reduce its trash bag order by 50,000.
Here are some quick tips on what you can do to help:
- Bring a bucket or reusable bag to the Cleanup for collecting trash (most Cleanup
sites are equipped with dumpsters or roll-away bins so you can dump what you collect
and bring your bucket or reusable bag back home).
- Bring a lightweight pair of gardening gloves from home, instead of using the disposable
plastic gloves provided at the Cleanup.
- Bring a filled, reusable water bottle to the Cleanup.
- Use public transportation, bike, or carpool to your Cleanup.
- If you're bringing a lunch, plan ahead to make it "waste-free" lunch.
What's a waste-free lunch?
If you want to work closely with the Coastal Cleanup Day Program to develop a big BYO idea for
your Cleanup, please contact your county coordinator
For teachers, you can make the BYO philosophy into class project. Assign your students to bring
work gloves (if available) and an item from home to use in collecting small to medium sized trash
items. (Larger trash items would need to be carried in bags, or hauled separately.) Some ideas
for containers include:
- Reusable bucket
It is estimated that it requires about 10,000 kilograms of oil, or about 67 barrels, in
energy and raw material, to produce the amount of plastic bags used during the 2009
California Coastal Cleanup Day.
- Half-gallon milk carton, opened
- Cardboard oatmeal cylinder
- Plastic milk jug with the top cut off
- Plastic 2-liter bottle with the top cut off
- Reused plastic shopping bags
As containers are filled, dump them into a central collection site, such as a dumpster, trash can,
or large trash bag. The containers can be recycled after the cleanup, or you can continue to reuse
them by providing your students with potting soil and seeds or seedlings to create a small flower,
herb or vegetable planter. Be sure to punch holes in the bottom first.
Another BYO idea is kitty litter scoopers for a hands-free way to grab the trash and leave the sand
We're interested in hearing other ideas you may have to reduce waste on Coastal Cleanup Day.
send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
or join our Facebook discussion
. Let's all prepare for the best, and least
wasteful, Coastal Cleanup Day ever!
BYO Ideas and Success Stories
- Save Our Shores, the Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties Coastal
Cleanup Day coordinator, received bucket donations from a number of local restaurants.
- ECOSLO, the San Luis Obispo County Coastal Cleanup Day coordinator, secured
a donation from Home Depot for 250, 5-gallon buckets for use on the beach.
- Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary, San Francisco coordinator
of the 2009 Kids Ocean Day Cleanup, had students bring recycled containers, such as empty milk jugs,
for collecting trash. After the event, they provided the students with wildflower seeds
to plant in the empty containers.
- Ian Butler, Pacifica: I have been doing a beach cleanup once a week
for 3 years now, and recently I switched from plastic bags to burlap sacks. I ordered them on line for
50 cents each and they are great for beach cleanups; they're biodegradable, reusable, and any water or
sand drains out as I walk. I highly recommend them as an alternative to plastic.
How do you make a waste-free lunch?
- Pack lunch in a reusable bag or lunch box.
- Sandwiches can be stored in reusable containers or simply wrapped in a cloth napkin.
- Smaller items can be stored in reusable containers or tied up in a napkin.
- Use a thermos or reusable bottle for drinks.
- Fruit often comes in its own packagingthere's no need for a container for
apples, oranges, or bananas.
- Pack cloth napkins and durable utensils when needed.
- Avoid single-use items like paper bags, plastic baggies, chip bags, pudding cups, etc.
Families can save money and resources by buying larger packages and sending individual
servings in a reusable container.
- Lunch boxes and containers are available for purchase in a range of prices, or food
containers and jars can be easily reused to make a free "trash free" lunch kit. Old dish
towels can be repurposed as napkins for lunches.
- If you have access to composting, collect any compostable items like fruit peels and take
them home with you.
More "trash free" lunch ideas can be found on the following websites: