For a lot of us, the beach is our happy place. It’s where we go to soak up the sun, to frolic in the water, or to take long walks to help us mull over major decisions. Some of us are lucky enough to live right by a beach; for others, it’s a once-a-year kind of treat.
Naturally, we feel a little protective of our beaches. We’re shocked to see that some people don’t care as much about our beaches as we do. When we spot trash and debris littering our beloved beaches, it’s upsetting—not only because it damages the beauty of the beach, but also because it hurts the fragile ecosystems that call the beach home.
If all of this rings true to you, then maybe it’s time to spearhead a beach clean up. Gather up some fellow beach lovers and bring your community together with a day devoted to giving back to something that gives you so much. Here’s what you need to do to organize your own beach clean up—warm fuzzy feeling included.
Pick a Date
The best time to plan a beach clean up is at the start of the season, to ready it for the crowds to enjoy, or at the end of the season, to pick up what the aforementioned crowds may have left behind. Pick a day in late spring or early fall that will fit with most people’s schedules.
Pick a Time
Low tide is the best time to schedule a beach clean up, since that’s when trash is most exposed. Start your event as the tide is starting to go out.
Since you’re doing a good thing, it shouldn’t be hard to get approval from local officials—but be sure to do so anyway. Determine who the right contact is for your beach, and give them a call or shoot them an e-mail outlining your plans. If you’re not sure who to contact, touch base with your municipality or the local police station.
Build a Crusade
Enlist the help of friends and family members who feel similarly about the cause. Reach out to environmental groups in your area who might be willing to support you. Organizing a beach clean up is best done as a team effort.
Spread the Word
With the help of your team, start publicizing your beach clean up. The local paper is a great place to start, as are bulletin boards, Facebook groups, and websites that cover local events. Get in touch with residents who live near the beach, and with groups that are frequent users of the beach, like surfers, SUPers, and other water-users.
As the organizer, you should be prepared to provide gear for your volunteers to collect the garbage. Trash bags and gloves are a must. Rakes, sifters, and shovels are useful tools to have on hand. Don’t forget to coordinate extra supplies that will keep your volunteers happy and safe, like snacks, drinks, first aid supplies, and lots of sunscreen.
Plan out the schedule for the clean up session, and think about what logistics you need to arrange. For instance, if you’re expecting a big crew, consider whether there is enough parking, or if you should plan to organize shuttles or encourage people to walk or bike to the beach. Set up a plan for dividing the beach into sections, and assigning sections to volunteers. Have a game plan for disposing of the trash after the event is done.
Make it Fun
Picking garbage up isn’t necessarily the most glamorous task, so reward your volunteers with a good time. Music can help set the atmosphere, and plan for prizes for the person who collected the most trash, or who found the most unusual piece of garbage. Invite local media to cover the event.
Share Your Success
Brag about the hard work your volunteers have accomplished: use social media and write letters to local publications to publicize your team’s efforts and results. Be sure to thank everyone who helped pitch in the clean up the beach. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back, too!