Host Your Own Community Cleanup

Posted Thu, 09/20/2018 - 11:00

Disappointed you missed the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC)? Or maybe you had so much fun you wish you could participate in the ICC all the time? Good news! You can host your own community cleanup anytime, no matter where you live.

Three young men holding up trash
These guys certainly had fun at last year's ICC, but you don't have to wait for the ICC to cleanup (Photo Credit: NOAA)

There is trash on the ground everywhere, not just on our coasts. Look around your neighborhood, where you work, your local park, or where you go to school. These are great locations to host a cleanup! It doesn’t take a lot of work to organize a cleanup, just follow these steps:

  1. Find your group - It’s easiest to work with a group of people you already know, so what groups are you a part of? Do you work in an office, participate in a club, go to religious services, go to school, have a big family, or just have regular outings with friends?  Whoever your people are, get them together to clean your community and the places that matter most to you!
  2. Find a time and a date - If you want to make your event convenient, plan your cleanup for when people are already together. Bring the office together over lunch to clean around the building. Part of a club? Set aside time at your next meeting to clear litter from your meeting spot. If you already have Sunday brunch planned with your friends, use part of your morning to make the community a little cleaner. You might just enjoy your meal more after a job well done!
  3. Find some tools - You really don’t need many supplies: bags for the trash, gloves for the really icky trash, and maybe some hand sanitizer.
  4. Track your waste - Let us know about the waste you find by using the Marine Debris Tracker app. Download the app to your smartphone and record the location and type of waste you find. By contributing your data to this global citizen science initiative, you can get a better idea of the common types of litter near you, and helps us understand the different kinds of debris found all over the world!
  5. Make it fun - While spending time with the people you care about and making our ocean, Great Lakes, and waterways healthier may be enough of an incentive for you, some people may need a little extra push, so make your cleanup fun. If you are competitive, offer a small prize for whoever picks up the most trash. Offer everyone a treat by ending the event at your local ice cream parlor. Feeling super? Dress up in silly costumes and be the ocean superheroes you really are!  

Host Your Own Community Cleanup

Posted Thu, 09/20/2018 - 11:00

For citation purposes, unless otherwise noted, this article was authored by the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

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Thu, 03/26/2020 - 21:31

Where do we disposed of yeah that we pick up?

Great question! The answer depends on the type of debris you are finding.

1.Most consumer debris (straws, coffee cup lids, cigarette butts), unfortunately will be sent to landfill, so the regular garbage can is the best place to dispose of it, unless of course there is anything sharp or hazardous.

2.Recyclable plastics, like water bottles or milk jugs, can usually be placed in a recycling bin as long as the sand is rinsed off first and they are not fouled with marine organisms.

If you are hosting a large cleanup event, be sure to coordinate with town officials. Some cities are willing to pick up collected trash during cleanup events.


Sat, 04/03/2021 - 09:11

Are there portable garbage/recycle containers that an individual can use to separate the two?

Dave Doebler

Wed, 04/21/2021 - 15:30

You can find local cleanups to join at www.VolunteerCleanup.Org, or you can post your cleanup for free and we will help you find volunteers to join along.


Sun, 03/13/2022 - 22:29

I'm unable to create an account and log in to this app. I'm using an Iphone. I've reset my password numerous times. any suggestions?

Hello Cathy. Thank you for reaching out about the Marine Debris Tracker app and your work to help keep our sea free of debris. The Marine Debris Tracker App is currently managed by the University of Georgia. You can contact the app managers at for assistance. 

Eyram Hevi

Wed, 12/28/2022 - 01:51

I belong to an organisation and as a leaders of the organization, riding the coast of plastic waste is one of the major community projects we plan to undertake by July/August 20233 in a sustainable manner. As a voluntary service organisation with no funds and logistics we need global support to undertake this project. We are grateful to have NOAA as partners to undertake this exercise I can be reached via the email address provided to further this discussion where I could provide details of the organisation I lead Regards