Cleanups are an effective and important way to remove plastics and trash from the ocean. Eco-friendly companies like 4ocean have taken these efforts to the next level.
This ocean cleanup company is dedicated to ending the ocean plastic crisis, and by using an innovative business model, they’ve managed to pull nearly 26 million pounds of trash from oceans, rivers, and coastlines around the world.
Their work is made possible through the sale of their products – like bracelets, beach chairs, and cleanup gear – that are also made with recycled materials.
4ocean is doing amazing work, but cleanups are a powerful tool for change whether you live next to the ocean or not. Local waterways, parks, trails, and riverwalks, also need help. Moreover, cleanups aren’t just about conserving your environment. They’re also about raising awareness.
Cleanups are the ideal method to expose your community to the real and visceral impacts of plastic and mismanaged waste on the environment. If you’re looking to follow in 4ocean’s footsteps and start a cleanup effort in your community, keep reading for some helpful guidance on how to make it happen.
Becoming a Cleanup Organizer Extraordinaire
As with most things, preparation is key. The first step toward a successful cleanup is to identify a waterway in your area that is often used for hiking, parties, or other events. The reason – they’re more prone to litter. The dirtier, the better. Just make sure the area is safe and accessible for you and your cleanup crew.
Once you’ve got your location down, it’s time to invite your family, friends, and neighbors. Consider using social media or going out to your local farmers market and seeing if they’ll let you sign-up willing volunteers.
Gear up for the cleanup with the following supplies:
Reusable trash bags
Gloves – Preferably the thick kind with a plastic or rubber-coated palm for safety and good gripping.
Trash grabbers – This is optional but can help when trying to reach difficult areas.
Sifters – If your goal is to tackle microplastics, these can help get the job done.
Empty laundry detergent containers – These can be used to contain sharp items like syringes or broken glass.
First Aid Kit – Buy these at any drugstore to make sure your team is safe.
Reflectors or vests – These are also optional but can come in handy in certain areas. Remember, safety first.
If you’re able to get more than ten people to join your efforts, reach out in advance to the community or park officials. You might need a permit to proceed. Also, take some time to plan out how you’ll be disposing of the trash. After the cleanup is done, you’ll be sorting and organizing the debris, so be familiar with your local waste disposal guidelines beforehand. Figure out if you’ll be using curbside bins, a local waste management facility, or some other method unique to your area to dispose of the waste. Identify the designated area for your crew to drop off their trash bags.
Perhaps most importantly, decide what the post-cleanup celebration is going to look like. Picnic on site, beers at the local brewhouse, or maybe a pizza party at your house? After all the hard work is done, this will provide some welcome relaxation and fun.
Let your people know to come prepared with the appropriate clothing for the terrain and the weather, as well as fully charged cell phones, sunscreen, insect repellent, snacks, a reusable water bottle, and hand sanitizer. Gather phone numbers and define meetup locations and timelines so everyone on your team is on the same page and can be contacted easily.
Once you’ve arrived at your site and are ready to roll, take a photo so you can impress everyone with the before and after images.
After you’ve scanned the area for any potential safety hazards that you might need to block off, the work of saving the planet can begin. Pump up your crew by letting them know how awesome they are and encourage them to take breaks, stay hydrated, eat snacks, and apply sunscreen.
Instruct them to gather any items that shouldn’t be in the environment but to be extra careful (or simply steer clear) of dangerous items like shards of glass, leaky batteries, or chemical containers. While some of those items can be stored in laundry detergent containers, you should never handle live ammunition, explosives, biohazard, or toxic waste.
If your goal is to recycle what you find, provide two trash bags to each person – one for trash and one for recycling. Go over those waste disposal guidelines you reviewed during the planning phase and communicate the designated trash bag drop-off area. Make trash grabbers available if your team needs to pick up any contaminated or hard-to-reach waste. If you’re in an area with microplastics, distribute those sifters.
You and your crew will get to spend some quality time in nature, hang out with other eco-conscious people, and beautify the community. It’s a win-win-win.
When all the trash picking is done, and all the waste has been brought to the drop-off area, separate the trash from the recycling.
It’s picture time again. Take photos of the bags of waste and of the newly cleaned area. Share these with your helpers and through social media to celebrate all the hard work and raise awareness for the next cleanup event.
Follow through with the disposal plan developed during the planning phase. Now it’s time to party!
Learn More to Save the Planet
For more information, check out 4ocean’s own cleanup guide and learn about their work saving the planet’s oceans.
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By Kim Sarubbi
Published October 25, 2022 2:49PM
Eveelife is an eco-oriented lifestyle platform that helps consumers make more purposeful choices about how they live and what they consume. We do it by curating content and products that help them make more conscious, carbon-free choices while amplifying their EV ownership experience.