30th Annual Biggest Ocean Cleanup Ever

Every third Saturday of September, volunteers all over the world gather at coastal and inland waterway beaches to pick up all the trash they can, tally it, and take it away. Their efforts are plugged in to their local communities, but collectively, they affect global change.

This September 19 is the 30th annual International Coastal Cleanup—the biggest volunteer event to benefit oceans in the world. Organized by the Ocean Conservancy, last year more than 560,000 participated in 91 countries, from Canada to Chile to Ghana, Australia to China to Greece. They removed more than 16 million pounds of trash strewn along 13,000 miles of shoreline.

Since the International Coastal Cleanup began, 10.5 million volunteers have picked up 192 million pounds of refuse. This year, a smart phone app, Clean Swell, will allow users to record every single piece of trash they pick up by selecting types of trash on the menu. This will help to figure out where it is coming from and track what harm it is causing. 

We already know that most of the trash is plastic. The Top 10 of 2014, in descending order: cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic bottle caps, plastic straws and stirrers, other plastic bags, plastic grocery bags, glass beverage bottles, beverage cans, plastic cups and plates. But the trash also gets weird: barbecues, bowling balls, plastic dinosaurs, shopping trolleys, wigs, wheelbarrows, paintbrushes, hardhats, a plastic banana. Money.

See what YOU can find.

Go to the Ocean Conservancy to sign up for the cleanup.


Top photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery / Foter / CC BY