Coastal Cleanup Day Educator's Guide
On Saturday, September 15, 2012, California's beaches, rivers, lakes, and other waterways will be visited by 80,000 people intent on having a positive impact on our environment. Coastal Cleanup Day is the largest volunteer event in California and is a part of the International Coastal Cleanup, which takes place in 100 countries and 42 U.S. states. Your classroom or youth group can be a part of this monumental event!
If you are unable to arrange for your students to get out to a shoreline cleanup on Saturday, you can hold your event on Friday, September 14. If you can not take a field trip, you can plan to clean up a nearby park, creek, or even the area around your school! Please contact your local coordinator as early as possible to make arrangements to receive supplies and data cards. Yes, you can still record your data and have it included in the Coastal Cleanup Day totals. If trash isn't picked up off the street, it may find its way into a storm drain and then out to a waterway and eventually the ocean. All litter is potential marine debris.
The information that follows will provide you with additional resources and activities to enrich Coastal Cleanup Day for your students. Please contact us with any comments or questions as you guide your students through this experience: (800) COAST4U; firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can download this Educator Guide as a six-page packet in PDF format.
BYO For Your Cleanup
Please consider planning ahead to reduce the waste generated by your cleanup. Following a "Bring Your Own" philosophy will allow you to save plastic bags and gloves that would otherwise be used during trash pick-up. Assign your students to bring work gloves (if available) and an item from home to use in collecting small trash items. (Larger trash items would need to be carried in bags, or hauled separately.) Some ideas for containers include:
- Reusable bucket
- 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
If your students are packing a lunch to eat during the cleanup, make it "trash free." This means that students will strive to include no disposable items in their lunches. Some tips:
- 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 back to school after the cleanup.
The following links will provide you with helpful information about participating in Coastal Cleanup Day and incorporating related lessons into your classroom:
- California Coastal Cleanup Day
- California Coastal Commission's Free Resources for Educators
- The Problem with Marine Debris
- BRIDGE Ocean Education Teacher Resource Center
A collection of online marine education resources, supported by the National Sea Grant Office, the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, and the National Marine Educators Association.
Marine Debris Videos/DVDs Available from our Lending Library
Visit our Lending Library to request the following titles:
- Saving Inky - 20:25 min. running time. A video for all ages about a pygmy sperm whale
that ingested plastics from the ocean, was treated at the Baltimore Aquarium and then set free. 1994.
- Coastal Cleanup Day 2000 - 16 min. running time, for all ages. An excellent motivator
for people to become involved in the health of our coast through participation in Coastal
Cleanup Day and the Adopt-A-Beach® Program.
- The Trash Troll - 12:30 min. running time, for grades K-5. Teaches children the impacts
of beach trash on marine animals. 1993.
- The Adopt-A-Beach® School Assembly Program - 21 min. running time, grades 3 and up. The
Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education produced this DVD, which includes excerpts from
a live assembly program for students about the sources and impacts of marine debris. 2009.
- Trashing the Oceans - 8 min. running time, grades 7 and up. An introduction to marine debris. 1988.
- Troubled Waters: Plastic in the Marine Environment - 28:30 min. running time, grades 7
and up. This 1992 video from the Center for Marine Conservation addresses marine debris
issues with a focus on ocean-based sources. 1992.
- Synthetic Sea: Plastics in the Ocean - 9 min. approximate running time, grades 7 and up. An alarming look at the role plastics is playing in our waters, specifically the Pacific Ocean. (You can also view a revised version of this video online) 2001.
Have your students create art or poetry based on their cleanup experience for the Coastal Art & Poetry Contest. Below are just a few questions that might help encourage artwork or poetry.
- What do you do at the beach?
- What do you see at the beach?
- What animals live on the coast or in the ocean off California?
- How are people connected to the ocean?
- What colors can you see at the beach?
- What sounds do you hear at the beach?
- What textures do you feel at the beach?
- Why do you love the beach or the ocean?
- What things may harm the California coast?
- What does the ocean make you think of?
- How does the ocean make you feel?
- How can we protect the ocean?
- Do you have a memory of being at the coast that was special/powerful/sad/comforting/mundane.?
- What would California/your life/your community be like without the ocean?
- What is California/your life/your community like because of the ocean?
The following lessons directly relate to your students' experience with Coastal Cleanup Day, or provide an opportunity for additional learning on the topic. They can be found in California Coastal Commission publications which are available on our website and in hard copy by request. Follow the links below or request the source material.
- "Marine Debris: It's Everywhere!" from the Community Action chapter of Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds
- "Searching Out Nonpoint Sources of Pollution" from the Community Action chapter of Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds
- "Clean Shorelines, Clean Oceans: Shoreline Cleanup" from the Community Action chapter of Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds
- "Preventing Pollution at the Source" from the Community Action chapter of Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds
- "Beaches: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?" from the 6th Grade chapter of Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds. Combine this beach profiling activity with your cleanup.
- "What's So Special About Native Species?" from the 7th Grade chapter of Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds. Research an animal you think may be impacted by marine debris.
- "You Are What You Eat: Plastics and Marine Life?" from the 8th Grade chapter of Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds
- "Branching Out" from the 5th Grade chapter of Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds. Learn about watersheds, so you can understand how marine debris and pollution ends up in the ocean.
- Save Our Seas K-8 activities
- "Nonpoint Source Pollution" from Our Wetlands, Our World High School Activity Guide
- "Water Quality" from Our Wetlands, Our World High School Activity Guide
- "Pollution Observation" from Our Wetlands, Our World High School Activity Guide