People at a beach cleanup facing the ocean

California Coastal Cleanup Day
How to Prepare and What to Expect

What to Bring

  • A signed waiver: All volunteers must have a signed waiver. Volunteers under 18 must have a parent or guardian's signature as well. If you are not able to bring a signed waiver, site captains will have them available at each site.
  • A bucket or reusable bag, if you can*
  • Gloves (like gardening gloves or leather work gloves), if you can*
  • A reusable water bottle*
  • (Optional) A clipboard might be helpful as you fill out your data card
  • (Optional) Pack a waste-free lunch! Coastal Cleanup Day ends at noon at most locations, which makes for a great opportunity to have lunch at the beach or creek! Just be sure to leave your lunch spot cleaner than when you arrived. Get waste-free lunch tips.

*Bring Your Own and help us cut down on the trash that we create at the Cleanup! To find out more about our efforts to reduce waste, visit our BYO page. (If you are not able to bring reusable cleanup supplies, supplies will be provided for you at each Cleanup site.)

Volunteers with datacard and bucket

What to Wear

  • Closed-toed shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • A hat
  • An extra layer, like a sweater or jacket in case it is cold. Be prepared to be outside in potentially changing weather for at least half a day.
A family of volunteers

What to Expect

First and most importantly, everyone can participate in Coastal Cleanup Day, no matter what age. There are even sites with beach wheelchairs available for those who need them. (Please call the wheelchair contact for your particular beach ahead of time to arrange a chair.)

Try to arrive at our event a little before 9 AM to get ready for the Cleanup. Coastal Cleanup Day is a popular event, so a lot of the "best" trash might be gone if you're late!

Each Cleanup site will be headed up by one or more Site Captains who will be in charge of everything at that location for the day. Once you arrive, seek out your Site Captain and follow his/her instructions for checking in and getting set for the Cleanup.

All the supplies you need will be waiting for you at the site: trash and recycling bags, gloves, data cards, pencils, and waivers, to start. Please help us reduce waste generated at each Cleanup by Bringing Your Own reusable cleanup supplies, like a bucket or bag and work gloves, from home. Learn more about our BYO campaign.

Each volunteer will need to bring or sign a liability waiver before they can start the Cleanup. You can save yourself some check-in time if you bring a signed waiver from home.

Once you sign your waiver, the Site Captain or another volunteer will provide a brief safety talk. After this, and once your supplies are in hand, start your cleaning!

Clean up every piece of human-created trash you can find, no matter how small! Scour the water line or areas near sea walls for hidden stashes of litter. Please leave all naturally occurring material (seaweed, driftwood, rocks, feathers, and shells) in place - it provides a valuable food source and habitat for a multitude of coastal critters.

Keep track of everything you pick up using the data card (supplied at the Cleanup). This data is a critical part of the Cleanup - it's our only chance each year to get a snapshot of what is littering our coast, inland waterways, and ocean. This information is used by educators and policy makers to help combat marine debris over the long term. Help us by taking part in the world's largest data collection event!

At the designated time, bring your bags or buckets back to the location the Site Captain has designated for depositing your trash and recyclables.

Take a moment to look out at your Cleanup site and appreciate how much cleaner, healthier, and nicer it is. Congratulate yourself on a job well done, and thank yourself and your fellow volunteers for helping to protect our coast and ocean. We certainly do!

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