Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Announced for September 21

Volunteer for the movement for Trash Free Seas and help clean up our coastlines

International Coastal Cleanup in South Africa Photo: Samantha Reindeers

Media Contact:
Jim Wintering, Communications Coordinator
Phone: (202) 280-6232
Email: jwintering@oceanconservancy.org

August 20, 2013

Washington, DC - Today, Ocean Conservancy announces the date for the 28th annual International Coastal Cleanup, a global event that mobilizes hundreds of thousands of people to take action for our ocean, for September 21.  By joining the movement for Trash Free Seas, volunteers will help clean up trash already in the ocean and work to reduce their own trash impact before it happens.

Trash in our ocean is an issue that affects wildlife, the environment and our economy. But everyone has a role that they can play in helping. Here are three actions volunteers can do to both clean up and prevent ocean trash:

Take part in this year’s International Coastal Cleanup as a volunteer.

Pledge to fight trash: What would happen if 10,000 people decided not to make as much trash for one month? We could reduce the trash on Earth by over a million pounds. Taking the pledge will help turn the tide on trash.

Download Rippl, Ocean Conservancy’s free mobile application that helps people make simple, sustainable lifestyle choices.

“Last year, volunteers picked up a quantity of trash equivalent to the weight of 10 jumbo jets, which demonstrates the more people who come out, the bigger an impact we can have,” said Nicholas Mallos, marine debris specialist of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program. “Seeing the trash along beaches and waterways makes you realize: just because trash is thrown away and out of sight doesn’t mean it’s out of our ocean. And the continuous need for the Cleanup indicates we’re not winning the battle upstream. The Cleanup is a starting point and just one way people can help fight the problem of ocean trash.”

The Cleanup is centered on Ocean Conservancy’s goal of tackling trash at every point in its lifecycle. While cleaning up trash that’s already made it to our waterways is vital, it’s not enough. Through individual responsibility, innovative science, smart public policy and industry leadership, we can find comprehensive solutions to the problem of ocean trash that will lead to healthier beaches and a healthier ocean.

“Every piece of trash that is picked up during the Cleanup should be a challenge for change,” said Mallos. “The trash that tops our top 10 list every year – things like cigarette butts, bags and bottle caps – include disposable plastics meant for one-time usage. These items simply do not belong in our natural environment.”

The Cleanup is part of Ocean Conservancy’s larger strategy for Trash Free Seas and is one of the many ways the organization is helping find answers and solutions for marine debris. Other Ocean Conservancy-led efforts include supporting a scientific working group at the world’s leading ecological think tank, The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), to identify the scope and impact of marine debris on ocean ecosystems; building a Trash Free Seas Alliance® of industry, science and conservation leaders committed to reduce waste; and launching a mobile app, Rippl, to help people make sustainable lifestyle choices that limit their trash impact. 

Contact Ocean Conservancy for additional videos, graphics and photos.


The Coca-Cola Company has supported Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup for the past 18 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 27 countries volunteered, cleaning more than 1,300 miles of coastline. As part of its commitment to address global climate change, Bank of America has supported the Cleanup since 2002, 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, Brunswick Public Foundation, CVS Caremark, Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The 2012 International Coastal Cleanup, by the numbers:


More than 550,000 people (561,633) picked up more than 10 million pounds of trash (10,149,988) along nearly 20,000 miles of coastlines (17,719)

Over the past 27 years, over 9.5 million (9,654,895) volunteers have removed 163 million (163,940,906) pounds of trash from more than 330,000 (330,009) miles of coastline and waterways in 153 countries and locations.

Volunteers found:

Total garbage equal to the weight 10 Boeing 747 jumbo jets

Enough trash to equal the weight of 41 blue whales

Enough beverage bottles that, when stacked end-to-end, are equal to: 1,000 Empire State Buildings, 2,408 Space Needles or 1,368 Eiffel Towers

Enough disposable cigarette lighters to start 178,557,500 campfires

In the past 27 years of cleanups, volunteers found:

57 million cigarettes butts, which, if stacked vertically, would be as tall as 3,867 Empire State Buildings.

Enough glass and plastic bottles to provide every resident of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix a cold beverage on a hot summer day.

Almost 10 million plastic bags (9,806,905), which required 1,176 barrels of oil to produce.

More than 1 million (1,017,444) diapers – enough to put one on every child born in Japan last year.

Enough cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons to host a picnic for 2.3 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 www.oceanconservancy.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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