Coastal Cleanup Month 2023 Recap


2023 Marked the NEC’s 44th year of Coastal Cleanup Day (CCD) activities.                                      Since the pandemic the NEC has expanded coastal cleanup events across the entire month of September. We had 20 cleanups spanning from Trinidad to the Lost Coast, and both the City of Arcata and Eureka joined in proclaiming September as Coastal Cleanup Month (CCM)!

This year we are getting some help with our CCM data analysis while providing a learning opportunity for a Cal Poly Humboldt student. Luis Miguel Garcia (he/him), is a senior at Cal Poly Humboldt pursuing a major in Economics with a minor in Applied Statistics. “I’m currently enrolled in a service-learning course because it provides me the opportunity to bring a positive impact to my local community working with the NEC while developing my technical skills in data science. I am excited to become the first college-graduate in my family this summer, and maybe even get a job related to my degree in Humboldt County!”



Coastal Cleanup Month 2023 proved highly successful, with over 393 dedicated volunteers contributing to the cleanup effort, covering over 19.5 miles of polluted coastal areas, and removing approximately 1,559 pounds of trash. Notably, this collective effort resulted in the collection of an estimated 8,372 pieces of trash from various locations, including beaches, parks, trails, and urban areas across northern California.



In our analysis, we categorized the collected pollution into six different groups, with “miscellaneous waste” making up nearly half of the debris. Among miscellaneous waste, an astonishing 51.4 percent was comprised of nails and screws. Nails and screws held the top position as the most found trash items, with a total of 1,731 instances. Most miscellaneous trash, approximately 60 percent, washed up on beach shores across 17 different locations.



Cigarette butts emerged as the second most found trash, with 1,078 instances recorded, constituting 37.5 percent of all urban pollution. The remaining top five waste items collected this year were derived from plastic materials.



Read more about Luis’ assessment and how policy, grassroots actions, and volunteer efforts can lead to waste reduction in our December 2023 issue of EcoNews.

Coastal Cleanup Day had great success across the state, with 44,352 volunteers and 360,521 pounds of trash and recyclable materials removed. Check out the Coastal Commission’s full report and more on their website.

Wondering where all these nails are coming from? Pallets are a cheap source of wood for bonfires, but they leave behind hundreds of nails in the sand. Next time you want to burn a pallet, remove the nails first. If you’d like to help collect nails that are left behind, contact the NEC and we can loan you a magnet stick.

If you’d like to help with picking up trash outside of CCM, the NEC has supplies available through our Zero Waste lending library. If there is a specific area you’re interested in maintaining throughout the year, check out our Adopt-A-Beach and Adopt-A-Block (AAB) programs!