7 tips on how to organize a clean up

How to organize Beach Clean Ups

Why we all should pick up trash?
​Refusing plastic and reducing trash is one step to a cleaner planet, removing the trash thats already out there is the next step. Plastic is not biodegradable so it will always be out there if it won’t get removed. Plastic is breaking down to micro plastic so it will always be around even if we can’t see it anymore. ​

Plastic is polluting our oceans, our nature, is harming wildlife and can even have an impact for us because it is making it’s way into our food chain (fish, mussels, sea salt, water,….) and we can’t even imagine yet what that might cause in the future. Read more about the health risk of plastic.)

So all in all a lot of good reasons to make clean ups and last but not least a clean environment makes us even happier than a trashy one right?
Let’s get started, I’ll give you a few tips for a short clean up by yourself and some tips how to organize a bigger clean up:

7 tips on how to organize a clean up 

1) Plan ahead and set date and time

You need to set a date for the clean up day. Plan at least a week for everything you need to be done and for people to save the date.
If you know a place that is littered already, theres no need to look for another place. If you are planning an clean up while you travel, ask locals or your hosts if they know of any local forest or beach (the touristic spots are always cleaned by the hotel or city staff).
If you live in a country where it’s gonna get really hot during the day, set the time early in the morning or later in the afternoon. In other countries plan after your own feeling.

Extra Tip: If it will become a big event on a public beach, park, with a lot of people, and maybe a tent or water refill station etc, make sure to contact your municipal office. They might want you to get a permit to do that kind of event, so it is better to check that. You don’t want the police to stop your clean up effort 😉

2) Get a supportive crowd

Contact all your friends, local organizations, local schools, etc. and ask them to join.
Make a facebook event public and talk to your neighbors. The more people join you, the merrier..
If you are planning a clean up while traveling, talk to the locals, talk to organizations and your hotel staff. I bet they are happy to help you out.
If you like, call or write some local newspapers if they like to share your event to get even more people on board.

3) Organize some sturdy bags for the trash

​Make sure to organize some good bags for your clean up. If you plan to make clean ups regularly even think about getting some big reusable bags. If you travel buy some bigger plastic bags for the trash. In some countries they have great bags made of natural fabrics for potatoes, coffee beans or rice. They make a great job too.
Ask all your supporters to bring their own trash grabber, or reusable gloves (for cigarettes and other nasty stuff) to make sure their safe while picking up trash.

4) Organize the transportion/disposal of the trash

Call your major/waste management and tell them what you are planning. The might even help you out with a pick up and send a truck because they are thankful for your effort. If they don’t, ask all the people who gonna come to help you out if somebody has a big car, truck etc. to get the collected trash to the right place. 
Make sure to separate stuff that can get recycled!

On the clean up day

5) Put up a sign

​On the clean up day, set up a sign along the road/beach where you do the clean up, to show people where they can find you, and maybe even to animate other people to join you! You will get surprised sometimes how many people like to help out.

6) Clean up that shit

And then just start to clean up!
People will be there at the set time, some may join later, some might not come at all, but that doesn’t matter. We made a clean up just the two of us once, because we wanted to join a clean up that didn’t took place because all the smaller groups (a school class and a fitness club) just called it off one day before and we didn’t know.
Teach children to be really careful and they shouldn’t pick up dangerous stuff like needles, glass etc. They should get an adult to dispose those kind of stuff safely.
Concentrate only on non biodegradable/human made trash. All the natural stuff on the beach can stay there!

7) Extras

  • If you have some school classes or organizations join you, maybe some people like to donate some snacks (make sure they are coming without single use plastic, or you have too much new plastic trash coming from your supporter).
  • If it’s gonna  get a real big clean up, maybe even somebody want to be a sponsor. A sponsor could donate bags, snacks, water in refillable/deposit glass bottles, a drinking fountain (25L/5 Gallons refillable container) to refill bottles.
  • Ask people to bring reusable water bottles instead if disposables. But if people bring single use plastic bottles and you live in an area with a recycling station for those plastic bottles and cans, make sure there is one bag particularly for those clean bottles that can easily get recycled(down cycled).
  • Make videos and photos and try to count (what is it you collected, straws, bottles, cups, etc…), weigh the trash you all collected. There are some websites/apps that like to track all the plastic trash that’s gonna get collected on clean ups to track what it is and where it comes from.
  • Share the result on your social media (you can also tag #thehappychoices to show me what you collected)! Share also with the local newspaper! It’s also about raising awareness about the global plastic trash pollution problem. So get informed about why others should pick up plastic too (non degradable, breaking down to micro plastics, harming wild life, polluting our water,….).
Beach clean up in Mexico Photo credit Susana Hernandez
Weighing the trash. This day we picked up 23.3 KG.
Trying to sort what theoretically can get recycled locally

5 minute beach clean up

No organization necessary:​
I started in Malaysia on a beach with trash picking. its been one of the things I could change straight away, so if I stumbled across some plastics on the beach(even when I went for a run) I picked it up and took it to the next bin. And here I am now, when we are going for a walk, I pick trash up when I see it (and if its not too much for my two hands).
So, if you go for a walk or hike, make sure to always take a bag with you. If you see some plastic trash flying around, pick it up. It will just take a few seconds but it will make a difference. Maybe you will save the bird or duck next to you, that would think the plastic is food and choke to death. So Yay, you might just save a life with your new habit!
It might feel a little bit weird if you pick trash up by yourself the first time. But I will promise, it will feel normal once you made this a couple of times, and then suddenly you might feel stupid if you don´t do this.
Or if this is too much of a getting out of the comfort zone for you, take a friend or somebody of your family with you. Its even more fun to make this together.
If you know a place in your neighborhood (or on the beach where you are for a holiday) where theres too much trash to pick up just by passing by, organize a clean up with family and friends and neighbors. I guess they all enjoy a nice and clean environment, and I bet a lot of people will join you. Mostly people are just waiting for somebody to make the first step. And this might just be you the next time!
And don’t be afraid about germs or something… Use reusable gloves if you find nasty things, but else just don’t touch your eyes or put your finger in your mouth while doing a pick up and you’ll be fine. Wash your hands afterwards and you don’t need to worry.

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