Big Changes Come to Coastal Cleanup

August 3, 2020

Big changes are coming to this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day. For one thing, it now lasts all month! Instead of the usual one day extravaganza, the Coastal Cleanup will now span all of September, with an emphasis on each Saturday morning from 9am to Noon. This year’s participants are encouraged to pick up trash within their own neighborhoods and nearby wild lands and watercourses in order to prevent refuse from eventually running off into our ocean.

While we’re sad to see the old event go, this new format also brings opportunities. MLT is excited to announce our first ever Coastal Cleanup photo contest. Whoever submits a winning photograph of you and your bubble cleaning up trash will be awarded a free MLT tote bag. There will be three separate prizes: the Staff Choice Award, the People’s Choice Award, and the Weirdest Trash Award. Use the Instagram hashtag #MLTphotocontest2020 or email to enter your photograph for a chance to win. 

Household groups or individuals are encouraged to participate in the Coastal Cleanup by using the Clean Swell app, which can be found on the Ocean Conservancies website. This app allows individuals to record the items they collect and contribute their work to a global database that tracks trash density and composition in coastal areas around the world. Alternatively, participants can mail in trusty data cards in either English or Spanish

Please note that trash will not be picked up or collected by a third party, so it is your responsibility to ensure that any waste you collect is properly disposed of. We also want to emphasize that there are risks to participating in this event, especially given the ongoing pandemic. If you choose to participate, please exercise caution by using protective equipment (including gloves and pickers), maintaining social distance, and being extremely cautious with waste that is likely to be contaminated such as PPE or cigarette butts. The Coastal Commission has compiled a helpful list of safety guidelines that should be followed carefully. These guidelines are:

Beach cleanups start at our own front doors. Trash can travel through storm drains, creeks, and rivers to become beach pollution. This September, let’s help clean the beach by cleaning up in our own neighborhoods and local natural areas. To protect your health and slow the spread of the coronavirus, please follow the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, available here: In addition to the CDC guidelines, the Coastal Commission recommends the following practices for cleaning up litter and other debris: 


• If you are sick in any way, DO NOT go out for a cleanup. 

• Assemble your own cleanup gear, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This should include trash bags or buckets, gloves, face mask, a trash grabber or tongs (if available), sun protection, and make sure to wear close-toed shoes to protect against sharp objects. 

• Download the Clean Swell app (available for free on all platforms) to keep track of what you pick up and how many people participated with you. If you do not have a device capable of using the app, you can download the data card from the Coastal Commission’s website. 


• Maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from everyone you encounter, even if you are wearing a mask. 

• ALWAYS wear gloves – disposable if available – and dispose or wash them immediately after your cleanup. 

• Avoid touching your face. 

• Do not pick up sharp objects, especially syringes! 

• Don’t pick up anything too heavy or anything that you will not be able to fit into your home debris bin. 

• In parks and natural areas, follow all posted signage, stay on trails, and limit activities to areas open to the public. 

• If you clean up a local beach or waterway, be mindful of the conditions (such as high tide, sneaker wave warnings, etc.), and be careful near the water’s edge. 

• Keep a safe distance from all wildlife! 

• Do not pick up or disturb natural objects, such as leaves, nests, or eggs. 

• Avoid over-exertion, sunburn, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. When in doubt, come in early! 

• Unfortunately, you may find used gloves, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) among litter. DO NOT PICK UP ANY PPE without a grabber. 

After Cleanup 

• If possible, weigh or estimate the pounds of trash and recyclables you collected during your cleanup to report to your local coordinator or the Coastal Commission. 

• Dispose of trash in your home debris bin 

• Dispose or wash gloves immediately after your cleanup. To properly remove disposable gloves, grab the glove opening near your wrist and pull towards your fingers, then turn the glove inside out before disposing. 

• Wash your hands thoroughly as soon as possible, and use hand sanitizer in the meantime if soap and water are unavailable. 

• Show us your cleanup! Post your pictures using our “Protect Your Happy Place” filter on Instagram and Facebook and see how your community is participating. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #coastalcleanupday and #protectyourhappyplace. 

By participating you understand and agree that neither the State of California or California Coastal Commission may be held liable or responsible in any way for any injury, death, or other damages to you or your family, heirs, or assigns that may occur as a result of your participation, or as a result of product liability or the negligence, whether passive or active, of any party in connection with the cleanups. 

Have fun and remember, safety first! Thank you for extending your care and compassion to our communities at this time! Stay healthy