September is Coastal Cleanup Month

Ivy Munnerlyn, Coastal Programs Coordinator

Are you looking for a way to give back to the Earth while spending a day outdoors with friends and family? Lucky for you, Coastal Cleanup Month 2022 is right around the corner. Throughout the month of September, you’ll have the opportunity to join with the north coast community for cleanups at your favorite beaches, parks, trails, and neighborhoods. As always, the NEC will be partnering with amazing local organizations to host these cleanups. Check out our website in August and September to find a list of cleanup events and links to RSVP. If you attend a cleanup, you’ll also be entered into our weekly prize drawing for a chance to receive a gift basket of products from local businesses. What’s not to love?

Coastal Cleanups have been a tradition here on the north coast for almost 50 years. In 1979, community members Joe Abbott and Ann Morrissey got the ball rolling with their wildly successful Beach Beautification project, which eventually became our Adopt-a-Block and Adopt-a-Beach programs. The California Coastal Commission took notice, and in 1985 Coastal Cleanup Day was born. Today, the event takes place all over the world with thousands of volunteers collecting millions of pieces of trash. According to the Coastal Commission, over 36,000 Californians removed 363,000 lbs of trash and recyclables from coastal and inland areas alike in 2021. Every year, cigarette butts have consistently been the #1 most collected item, and last year was no exception. However, cigarette butts have begun to take up a smaller share of the total trash collected as other categories like takeout containers and disposable masks have surged during the pandemic. This type of data, which is collected by cleanup volunteers each year, is incredibly valuable for state and local waste reduction efforts. The NEC’s trash data collection methods are well known to volunteers in our Trash Trackers, Adopt-a-beach, and Adopt-a-block programs. If you’re interested in volunteering or learning more about how we use data to advocate for solutions, visit www.yournec.org/trashtrackers. 

If data and numbers aren’t your thing, there’s another compelling reason to participate in Coastal Cleanup Month 2022: it’s fun! When beach cleanups first began in the 1970s and 80s, they were a way for the environmental community to come together and let off steam in a positive way that benefitted the Earth. These days, environmentalists aren’t the only people who need to take a break from the sadness and frustration surrounding climate change and biodiversity loss. Cleanups are a great way to recharge your energy and let yourself find joy in making a real, tangible difference for the environment. Make it a social gathering by bringing your kids, friends, family, and coworkers along. And remember to celebrate your efforts–you deserve it!

You can find more information about Coastal Cleanup Month on our website, at yournec.org/coastalcleanupmonth. You’ll find a link to RSVP to a cleanup, as well as a portal where you can donate to support the event and our year-round Coastal Programs. A large part of the funding for Coastal Programs, which encompasses our trash cleanup and waste-reduction projects, is generated through this event. It’s thanks to our generous community that we can continue to host this fun and impactful event every year. We are so excited to bring Coastal Cleanup Month 2022 to the north coast, and we hope you’ll join us this year.