Clean Beaches Week

July 1st was the start of Clean Beaches Week across the US where we set aside time to appreciate our beaches and help keep them clean for both humans and animals to enjoy. Even if you don't live on the coast, there are a variety of great ways you can participate this week and make an impact.

"Don't worry, all drains lead to the ocean." - Gill, Finding Nemo 2003

Popularized in the Pixar animated film, this quote rings true and serves as a great reminder that no matter where you live, all drains (directly or indirectly) eventually wind up in the ocean. 

Yes, most of us benefit from effective wastewater treatment facilities and complex networks of waterways designed to minimize debris and pollutants coming from our homes but this isn't always the case. It also doesn't take into account all of the natural waterways that collect and carry debris while journeying to the big ol’ blue. Lakes and rivers have beaches too, it's not just an ocean thing. 

No matter where you live, consider these tips for helping to reduce the rubbish and clutter that winds up on our beaches.  

Clean Beaches Week

1. Don't Litter

Not really a tip rather a rule that most of us need no reminder of, littering is the #1 cause of waste on our beaches. For most of us, the littering is often unintentional or maybe accidental; a plastic bag flies away in the wind, or your kids drop a candy wrapper.  Just be mindful and do your part to avoid litter at all costs and remember, every piece of trash disposed of properly is one less piece of trash that could wind up in the ocean. Every little bit counts. 

2. Organize a Clean-Up Day

Physically getting out there and cleaning up a local waterway, public access, or beach is a great way to build a sense of community and meet like-minded people. With communication at our fingertips via social media, organizing events like this is easy. 

Offer prizes for the most trash collected, recruit kids and teens to complete service hours for school credits, talk with coworkers, or even just a group of friends to clean up together and enjoy some time outside. 

Clean Beaches Week

3. Practice "Leave No Trace"

The idea of “Leave No Trace” is exactly that and simply means to leave nothing behind, trash or otherwise during outdoor activities. The term “pack it in, pack it out” is another way of expressing it in the hiking community; anything you take with you on the trail should come out with you as well.

This can be especially effective through the summer months as millions of Americans will gather to recreate and celebrate summer holidays, many of us doing so outside.

4. Leave It Better Than You Found It

As an extension of leave no trace, some areas provide the opportunity for you to leave it better than you found it. This could be as easy as picking up a soda can in the gutter on your nightly walk in the park or gathering some trash floating on the lake as you enjoy the day on your boat. 

5. Don't Flush Trash

Flushing things that don’t belong in the toilet is incredibly expensive to clean up and even with the most advanced wastewater treatment techniques, some of this trash may still make its way into the ocean.  

Clean Beaches Week

6. Buy and Use a Metal Water Bottle

It is no secret that plastic is a problem of plague proportion in the way of polluting our world’s oceans. When carrying drinking water with you, use a refillable metal water bottle instead of a disposable plastic one. Not only will you save money in the long run, but think about how many plastic water bottles you won’t be throwing away over the course of a single year, or a lifetime for that matter. 

7. Avoid Disposable or Single-Use Products

Just like plastic water bottles, disposable utensils and similar single-use products can easily be avoided with a little effort. If disposable is a must during your family barbeque, seek out recycled or biodegradable products. Instead of 100 juice boxes, use a punch bowl. Instead of plastic baggies, use glass Tupperware or similar reusable food storage solutions. 

8. Plant Some Trees

Planting trees might seem somewhat abstract on a list of ways to keep our beaches clean but it really does work. Trees help to reduce the amount of runoff water and erosion occurring in our natural waterways which ultimately reduces the amount of waste collected along the way. Plus, planting trees helps the environment in many other ways and often beautifies the landscape.