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PBBCU

Beach Cleanup for Volunteers


What purpose do beach cleanups serve?

Encouraging people to take action.

Surfrider's San Diego Beach Cleanup Coordinator supports Beach Cleanup Site Captain volunteers to organize beach cleanups with a range of tools and an educational approach.

Generating public awareness.

Joining one of Surfrider’s beach cleanups, participants become aware of the impact of waste-related pollution, while actively removing litter from our coasts.

Targeting the heart of the problem.

When volunteers report their beach cleanup data, they are contributing to pollution research, helping to influence future legislation and contributing to lasting protection of our coasts and ocean.

How do I volunteer at a beach cleanup?

1) Find a cleanup near you and register.

Whether you want to join solo or with a group, everyone must register. We do not reserve spots ahead of time. All public cleanups are volunteer-led and subject to change based on volunteer capacity. Please register to receive any communications regarding the cleanup you registered for. 

We hold up to six public beach cleanups countywide every month.

  • 1st Saturday of each month in Ocean Beach and Oceanside
  • 3rd Saturday of each month in Imperial Beach and Encinitas
  • 4th Saturday of each month in Tamarack State Beach (Summer months at South Ponto)
  • 4th Saturday of each month in Pacific Beach (Every other month + Summer)

2) Show up. 

Make sure to arrive at least 10 minutes before the start of the cleanup. Volunteer Site Captains will do an introduction prior to the start of the cleanup where they'll share essential information. Feel free to bring your own cleanup supplies, but please refrain from bringing any plastic bags or gloves. Please note that some beach cleanup sites have limited parking.  

When you arrive:

  • Check in using the QR code at the information table. Look for a blue Surfrider tent! You do not need to checkout when you leave.
  • Be ready to listen to safety and program instructions at the start of the cleanup.
  • Each group must collect a data card, pencil, and select cleanup supplies. We provide supplies until we run out!

3) Collect data as you cleanup.

One of the things that makes our beach cleanups unique is that we collect data on all the trash you remove during your cleanup. These data cards are essential to our initiatives, and we use the data to help reduce waste in our communities, such as eliminating single-use plastics. Only one data card is needed per group. You will return your data card and supplies, and sort your trash from recyclables at the end of the cleanup.

During the cleanup:

  • Tally each item you remove from nature! Familiarize yourself with our data card before you head out on your cleanup. 
  • Please take note of any safety signs around you. Some of our cleanups take place near restricted military areas and/or sensitive native habitats. You will be fined if you trespass. 
  • We want to leave nature with nature. Please refrain from picking up natural items such as seaweed, deceased animals, shells, etc. 

4) Repeat or get further involved!

We welcome you to come back again! If you'd like to get further involved in supporting a beach cleanup site, please reach out to beachcleanups@sandiego.surfrider.org. Sites are continuously looking for dedicated long-term volunteers to support day-of operations such as setting up, sorting trash, passing out supplies, etc.

After the cleanup:

  • Please return the supplies you borrowed! These items are essential for our program and allow people to participate in our public cleanups free of charge. 
  • Help us sort your trash from your recyclables. 
  • Make sure to get your volunteer hour signed after the cleanup. Chat with one of our volunteers at the blue Surfrider tent. 
  • Chat with us! Ask us questions, our volunteers are passionate about the work we do. Give them the opportunity to share their knowledge with you.

Want to preform a beach cleanup on your own?

Check our our solo beach cleanups resource page for beach cleanup instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to sign up for beach cleanup or can I just show up?
If you want to join us at any of our beach cleanups, you will need to register online ahead of time! You can find all our upcoming cleanups and registrations here. There is a waiver attached to the online registration form that you will be required to consent to online during the registration process. Once you submit your registration, you will find all the important details, like our specific meeting location, supplies, attire, etc., under the Pro-Tip section and in the confirmation email you will receive. Please take a minute to read through it!  
 
Surfrider San Diego’s beach cleanups are waste-free events. What does this mean?
This means that we don’t allow any drinks, food, or items that are bottled, wrapped, or in containers made of single-use plastic or EPS foam (a.k.a styrofoam)! So, please, if you would like to bring a drink or snack to the cleanup, make sure to do so in reusable containers!
 
Does Surfrider San Diego provide water during cleanups?
No, we typically do not provide water refill stations at our cleanups. If you’d like to have some, please make sure to bring some in a reusable container!
 
The exact location for the cleanup does not show up on the registration page. Where can I find it?
Once you submit your registration for our cleanup, you will find the location and other important details in the confirmation page, under the Pro-Tip section. You will also find it in the confirmation email you will receive shortly after registering. Please take a minute to read through it!  
 
How long are Surfrider San Diego’s beach cleanups?
Almost all our cleanups are two hours long.
How do I register for a public beach cleanup?
If you want to join us at any of our public beach cleanups, you will need to register online ahead of time! You can find all our upcoming cleanups and registrations here. There is a waiver attached to the online registration form that you will be required to consent to online during the registration process. Once you submit your registration, you will find all the important details, like our specific meeting location, supplies, attire, etc., under the Pro-Tip section and in the confirmation email you will receive. Please take a minute to read through it!  
 
What supplies do I need to bring with me?
Surfrider San Diego will provide volunteers with grabbers, gloves, and reusable bags to collect trash. However, sometimes we run out of these supplies, especially at events with high turnout! So, if you have any of these supplies, please bring them with you!
 
Can kids participate?
Yes! Children are more than welcome to join any of our cleanups! All participants under the age of 18 need to provide a parent/guardian’s contact information on their registration. The parent/guardian will be emailed the volunteer’s waiver (check spam folder!), which they will have to consent to in order to complete the minor’s registration. Additionally, those under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
 
Are beach cleanups eligible for service hours?
Yes! All our beach cleanups are eligible for service hours. Those looking to get a service hour verification letter at the end of the cleanup must check-in at the beginning of the cleanup by scanning the check-in QR code they will find at the Surfrider tent, and/or by requesting a paper copy from our site team at the end of the cleanup.
 
Can my group sign up as a team or does each person need to sign up individually?
We ask every member of your team to sign up individually. If you would like to keep track of your team’s registration, please make sure they sign up using their work/organization email, and the Surfrider San Diego Beach Cleanup Coordinator will be able to provide this information upon request.
 
My team is pretty big! Is there a maximum number of participants that can sign up as part of a group?
Some of our beach cleanup sites have a maximum number of participants who can attend on any given date. These are Tamarack & South Ponto (100), Imperial Beach (200), and Pacific Beach (250). We don’t have a max cap for groups as long as we have enough open slots for the date you want to attend! All other cleanup sites do not have a maximum cap, so feel free to share the signup to those with everyone!
 
Can we reserve spots for a beach cleanup?
We do not reserve spots for a beach cleanup.
 
Can my organization sponsor a public cleanup?
Yes! Surfrider San Diego allows sponsorships of our public Beach Cleanups. This type of collaboration requires approval from our national office and the San Diego Chapter’s Executive Committee to ensure the sponsor is aligned with our organization’s mission, and a minimum 45 day-lead time.  For more details on how to get involved with our public-facing sponsored Beach Cleanups, contact our Beach Cleanup Coordinator.