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It's Coastal Cleanup Month - Your Beach Needs You. Will You Answer the Call?

Stay Trashy, San Diego

Noticed bigger crowds at the beach this summer? 

Beach attendance in San Diego is up sharply from last year, most likely because everything else has been closed. While we’re infinitely grateful to have beaches where we can all recreate safely, the sad reality is that when more people hit the beach, more plastic is left behind.

Covid-19 has spurred an expansive reliance on single-use plastics, most notably from restaurant takeout containers (the only option for most restaurants) and a previously unseen form of pollution, personal protective equipment (PPE) masks, gloves, and wipes. Adding insult to injury, local government budgets are strained and organizations like ours, which typically perform hundreds of cleanups every year, have been unable to host group events since March. 

The result? Overflowing trash cans have become the norm, and Surfrider chapters and clubs have reported an almost 70% increase in items found per cleanup compared to this time last year.

Our beaches are trashed.


Not enough trash cans? Maybe. Too much trash? Definitely!

Coastal Cleanup Day? Try Month!

September is Coastal Cleanup Month, and it couldn’t come at a more crucial time. As the name suggests, this year’s event encompasses the entire month of September rather than just one day (due to safety issues w/ group events right now). To keep things safe and distanced, we’re encouraging solo cleanups throughout the entire month. 

International Coastal Cleanup Day is traditionally the world’s largest single beach cleanup event. In 2019, 6 million people in 90 countries participated. Together, they removed over 97 million items of trash from coastlines around the world. Additionally, this collective global effort raises consciousness about how we can take action in our everyday lives to promote a healthier ocean. 

Coastal Cleanup Day, er, Month, is also the world’s largest concentrated effort for cleanup data collection. Last year’s top 5 items were cigarette butts, food wrappers, straws/stirrers, plastic cutlery, and plastic beverage bottles, respectively. You guessed it — all single-use plastic.

It doesn’t take much to conduct a solo cleanup and make an impact. All you need is a bag or bucket, and a glove and/or trash grabber. Bonus points if you collect data. Almost anyone, anywhere can join in this collective effort and make a measurable impact, even if you only have 10 minutes. Don’t be surprised if people thank you for your efforts!

In honor of Coastal Cleanup Month and the important global data collection effort, we recommend that you use the Ocean Conservancy’s Clean Swell app for your September solo cleanups. And of course, check out our solo cleanup guidelines here!

Surf Shop Supply Hubs

The Shed OB on Abbot St. is across the street from the beach!

Which brings us to our next announcement. We’re in cahoots with “The Shed OB” to turn their legendary beachside surf shop into our OB Beach Cleanup Central Command Unit.

This means that you can head to the Shed, sign out some “sanitized” gear – bucket, trash grabber, gloves, and data card – and get to work. When you’re done, simply bring it all back (minus the trash) and they’ll re-sanitize it for the next brave soul willing to get down and dirty for our coasts. 

If you’re in OB and wanna get your beach cleanup-on, head to “the Shed” if you need supplies!

And if you’re not in OB but think this is a cool idea, well… here’s our “call to action” for you: 

  1. Find a shop near your local beach that is willing to serve as a Beach Cleanup Supply Hub.
  2. Find a volunteer, i.e. YOU or a fresh recruit, who is willing to maintain that relationship with weekly, bi-weekly or monthly pickup/dropoffs of volunteer waivers, data sheets, and sanitizing supplies (we’ll reimburse ya). 
  3. Let us know, and we’ll work with you to make it happen and promote it throughout your community. 

Surfrider Found Objects Photo Contest (Sep 14 - Oct 16)

When you remove trash from the beach before it gets to the ocean, then that’s a beautiful thing. And beauty is in the eye of the trash-holder.

That must be why the Found Objects Photo Contest is our most popular contest of the year. This time around it will run from September 14-October 16. It’s an opportunity to share items that you’ve found (and cleaned-up!) off of your local beach or waterway.

The rules are simple – take a photo of objects you’ve found on the beach, arranged in a creative and artistic way AND share a story about the photograph. This story can include activities, memories or what you (and your community) are doing to protect that beach.

To submit an entry, post the photo to your Instagram or Twitter account, write your story, and then tag @surfrider and use the hashtag #SurfriderFound to be entered in the contest.

For more info (i.e. prizes!) and to check out previous entries, visit the Found Objects 2020 landing page.

Our RAP Lead, Janis Jones, is the one to beat! Check out her IG @janisselbyjones for some artistic inspiration

Signs of a Cleaner Beach?


At Surfrider, we like to think of our community beach cleanups as the “gateway drug” to coastal activism. Under normal circumstances, our Cleanup Captains get to interface with ≈1,000 people/month in pursuit of a cleaner beach. Even if it’s for only 5 minutes, we always highlight our larger efforts to eliminate plastic pollution, including policy action and our push towards a zero waste lifestyle. 

But when cleanups and group events are forbidden for the sake of public health, how do we reach beachgoers with messaging about plastic pollution? And how do we keep everyone excited about solutions, rather than problems?

We remind ourselves of the unparalleled power of a strategically placed PSA. We have several designs ready to deliver into the hands of anyone willing to post them at their local beach while they surf, chill, etc.  And if you’re the creative type, design your own and submit to us. If we dig it, we’ll print it.

Here’s a LINK to a Google Drive folder with current designs and inspirations – feel free to do your own thing, or work off one of the mockups!

We hope you can get out for a solo cleanup this month. Remember to stay positive, call your mother, and of course, RESPECT THE BEACH! For any inquiries, please email and