Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Set for Sept. 15

Join the movement for Trash Free Seas by pledging to Take on the Trash

Media contact:
Katie Cline, Communications Manager
Telephone: (202) 351-0482

August 16, 2012

Washington, DC - Today, Ocean Conservancy announces the 27th annual International Coastal Cleanup, taking place September 15, by asking volunteers around the world to pledge to Take on the Trash. Those who pledge will help build the collective movement for Trash Free Seas – both by reducing their own trash impact and helping clean up what’s already out there.  

Videos, graphics and photos are available to download.

This year’s Cleanup will have even greater significance with the anticipation of possible Japan tsunami debris on the West Coast.  Ocean Conservancy hopes to compare data collected this year to historical numbers.  This adds to response efforts from various sectors – including NOAA and other federal and state agencies, the military, businesses and nonprofit organizations. 

For more information visit Tsunami Debris: What You Need to Know.
“Trash jeopardizes the health of our ocean, our economy and people,” said David Pittenger, director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program.  “Sometimes there are uncontrollable events – like the Japan tsunami – that add to the larger problem of marine debris.  That’s why it’s important to tackle what’s preventable.” 

“We need more volunteers than ever,” Pittenger said. “Last year, volunteers found enough food packaging to get takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the next 858 years.”

The Cleanup is part of a growing movement to tackle ocean trash at every point in the lifecycle.  Here are six ways to Take on the Trash:

  • Join the International Coastal Cleanup: Check out to find cleanup opportunities.
  • Sign the pledge and invite your friends to Take on the Trash: build the movement to reduce the impact of trash on our ocean.
  • Clean up in your neighborhood with our downloadable kit.
  • Check out Ocean Conservancy’s new mobile app, Rippl: Sign up to be among the first to know when it’s released. Rippl helps you make sustainable lifestyle choices by delivering weekly green living tips and helping to build new habits that lead to a lower trash impact.
  • Support Trash Free Seas: Donate to help.
  • Get Inspired: Check out Ocean Conservancy’s running list of features, blog posts and more.


The Coca-Cola Company has supported Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup for the past 17 years. Last year, Coca-Cola activated a global employee engagement campaign to encourage participation in the Cleanup. Over 24,000 Coca-Cola system associates, their friends and families in 26 countries volunteered, contributing almost 200,000 hours of time.  As part of its commitment to address global climate change, Bank of America has supported the Cleanup for the past several years, with thousands of employees participating in Cleanup events all around the world. Other national sponsors include National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Altria Group, Inc., The Dow Chemical Company, Landshark Lager, Glad, The Walt Disney Company, Brunswick Public Foundation, CVS Caremark and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The 2011 International Coastal Cleanup, by the numbers:


  • Nearly 600,000 people (598,076) picked up more than nine million pounds of trash (9,184,427) along over 20,000 miles of coastlines (20,775). 
  • Over the past 26 years, more than nine million (9,361,453) volunteers have removed one hundred and fifty-three million (153,790,918) pounds of trash from more than three hundred and twelve thousand (312,290) miles of coastline and waterways in 153 countries and locations.

Volunteers found:

  • Enough clothing (266,997 items) to outfit every expected audience member of the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
  • Enough food packaging (940,277 pieces) to get takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the next 858 years.
  • Enough light bulbs (24,384 bulbs) to replace every light on the Eiffel Tower.
  • Enough beverage cans and glass beverage containers that, if recycled, would net $45,489.15.

In the past 26 years of cleanups, volunteers found:

  • Fifty-five million cigarettes butts, which if stacked vertically, would be as tall as 3,613 Empire State Buildings.
  • Enough glass and plastic bottles to provide every resident of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia a cold beverage on a hot summer day.
  • Enough appliances (125,156) to fill 37,434 single-axle dump trucks.
  • More than 870 thousand (870,935) diapers – enough to put one on every child born in the UK last year.
  • Enough cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons to host a picnic for 2.15 million people.

Ocean Conservancy is working with you to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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