Session Chairs: Moriah Saldana, I Love A Clean San Diego; Eben Schwartz, California Coastal Commission

State and local organizers of International Coastal Cleanup Day will discuss all levels of event coordination, including data collection as well as its impact on the community, best practices, and innovative strategies for the event. 

I Love A Clean San Diego (ILACSD), the California Coastal Commission (CCC), and other partners will join together on a panel to discuss International Coastal Cleanup Day coordination from their unique perspectives. State and local experts on the coordination of the event will cover the process of planning the event at all levels. This would include conversations on the data collection process, how the data has been used to encourage different municipalities to establish regulations that reduce the amount of marine litter, innovative ideas for the event, and the benefit of forming a constituency of volunteers that will arise to call for more to be done in their jurisdictions.

ILACSD coordinates San Diego County’s Coastal Cleanup Day, averaging 110 unique cleanup sites, including sites in Tijuana, with 10,000 volunteers who remove 170,000 pounds of trash and debris each year. Over three quarters of these sites are inland sites, spreading awareness of how debris travels through the watershed and makes it way to our coast. With 32 years of experience planning the event, the organization has also done more to make the cleanup itself more ocean friendly by incorporating zero waste cleanups and the “Bling Your Bucket” contest, to encourage volunteers to bring reusable cleanup items. With these incentives, ILACSD has seen 75% of volunteers pledge to bring at least one reusable item to the cleanup, reducing the amount of plastic waste created by the event. San Diego County is a part of the more than 1,000 sites in California overseen by the Coastal Commission, which since the event began in 1985, has helped activate over 1.4 million volunteers, who have removed over 23 million pounds of trash from our beaches and inland waterways.

The data and volunteerism from Coastal Cleanup Day has been instrumental in changing mindsets on the causes and impacts of marine debris. California passed a statewide ban on plastic bags in 2014 (that was upheld in 2016), due in part to how environmental organizations have educated the public on the dangers of plastic bags in our ocean and the abundance of plastic bags in litter found at the beaches. For the first time in a decade, plastic bags were not in the top ten items of debris found during the September event. The timing indicates that this is not just due to the ban on plastic bags, but also to the change in mindset as more people see the harm that plastic does to the environment first hand. Coastal Cleanup Day can ignite passion for new environmental stewards, encouraging a yearlong commitment to our open spaces and ocean. This panel will demonstrate the value of the cleanup to other nations that do not currently participate and share innovations and best practices for those that already do.




California Coastal Cleanup Day – a Gateway to a Lifetime of Coastal Stewardship

presenting: Eben Schwartz (California Coastal Commission, United States); authors: Eben Schwartz (California Coastal Commission, United States)

The California Coastal Commission has been the statewide leader of California Coastal Cleanup Day (CCD) since its inception in 1985. One of the single largest contributors to the International Coastal Cleanup, CCD regularly draws 60,000 – 80,000 people to the state’s beaches and inland waterways. Over time, the commission has used the cleanup as an educational gateway for millions of people to enter the world of coastal stewardship. The volunteers, and the people across the state they inspire with their actions, have become a constituency that seeks to change the policies and practices that lead to marine debris, and are a primary reason why California leads the U.S. in laws and regulations that seek to reduce debris at its source.

The cleanup is organized as a partnership with local organizations across the state, and through this structure, the commission has helped build a strong core of groups ready and willing to take action on marine debris, including educating the public and advocating for change. Running through all this work is the cleanup, which remains the foundation of our activities. The commission continues to grow and improve the cleanup; in recent years, we have sought new audiences, such as the boating community, and developed new initiatives, such as our “Bring Your Own” effort to reduce the waste created at the cleanup, all of which have improved the cleanup and spread our messages even further. The cleanup has been, and continues to be, a powerful tool to rid California of its trash, both on a single day and throughout the year.


Oregon’s “Train the Trainer” Model and Best Practices during the International Coastal Cleanup

Presenting: Monica Gunderson (SOLVE, United States); Authors: Joy Hawkins (SOLVE, United States), Monica Gunderson (SOLVE)

With 33 years of experience coordinating both one-day and year-round beach cleanup events, SOLVE works with hundreds of local, regional, and international partners each year to improve the environment and build a legacy of stewardship by making it easy for anyone to get outside and make a difference.

The Great Oregon Fall Beach Cleanup was one of the first coastwide, volunteer cleanup efforts in the world. Started on October 13, 1984 as the “Plague of Plastics”, the coastwide cleanup has become an Oregon tradition, engaging over 260,000 volunteers who have removed an estimated 1,800 tons of trash from Oregon’s beaches. Today, the event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup and includes nearly 100 inland neighborhood, park, and Adopt-a-River cleanup sites, encouraging data collection and debris removal before it flows downstream.

Oregon’s coastwide cleanups provide an innovative way for volunteers to become active in their community as volunteers, one-day site leaders, or ongoing region-wide leaders throughout the year. SOLVE’s cleanups are based on a “Train the Trainer” model. Each event is coordinated by 18 trained, volunteer “Zone Captains”, who in turn, recruit and train up to 75 on-site “Beach Captains”. Recently, the cleanups have incorporated new practices, including a successful BYO-Bucket Campaign to reduce plastic bag use, a glass float scavenger hunt, sorting stations, and the creation of an event-specific Social Media Guide. SOLVE looks forward to sharing these experiences and best practices with fellow marine debris leaders across the world.


Coastal Cleanup Day – A Local Perspective on Coordination and Innovation

presenting: Moriah Saldana (I Love A Clean San Diego, United States); authors: Moriah Saldana (I Love A Clean San Diego, United States)

For over 30 years, I Love A Clean San Diego (ILACSD) has been coordinating Coastal Cleanup Day locally through a statewide collaboration with the California Coastal Commission. The mission of Coastal Cleanup Day is to engage volunteers of all ages to remove trash and debris from waterways and beaches; to identify the sources of debris; and to ultimately change the behaviors that cause pollution. Marine debris is much more than just an eyesore, and this event offers San Diegans the opportunity to take action in their local communities to make a positive, lasting impact on the environment. ILACSD has used the powerful data and reach of Coastal Cleanup Day educate local constituents and policy makers on the effects of different policies aimed at litter reduction.

Annually, I Love A Clean San Diego mobilizes between 8,000-10,000 volunteers in the San Diego region to remove over 170,000lbs of trash, recycling, and hazardous debris as part of Coastal Cleanup Day, held at 100-115 sites lead by local environmental champions. Each year, approximately 77% of all sites are inland cleanup sites, demonstrating that debris in all areas of our watersheds affect our oceans. ILACSD also supports cleanup efforts in Tijuana for Coastal Cleanup Day, adding a binational layer of coordination to this event. ILACSD continues to expand and advance the event, incorporating zero waste principles like encouraging volunteers to “Bring Your Own” reusable cleanup supplies, using a digital app for data collection in addition to the paper data cards, and through engaging new partners to be new advocates for positive change.


Every Day is International Coastal Cleanup Day in Miami!

presenting: Dara Schoenwald (, United States); authors: Dara Schoenwald (, United States)

We’d like to share how our website has been an instrumental online tool for organizing ICC in Miami, and how it helped us scale year-round cleanup efforts in South Florida. We created the site to be a central hub for local cleanups that would increase volunteer turnout, expand reach and impact, and reduce duplication of efforts among cleanup organizers. It’s now a well utilized digital platform, engaging thousands of volunteers locally to increase marine debris awareness and prevention. Our free site connects those who are organizing cleanups with the volunteers who are looking for one to join. Anyone can post a cleanup to our site and reach our database of volunteers, and any volunteer can find a cleanup to join and register online. They can also sign up for our weekly emails, listing all upcoming cleanups within 15 miles of their zipcode. As the new the organizers of ICC in Miami, we were able to solve the prior organizers biggest pain point: registration for the 40+ cleanups in the Miami program. Using our website for online registration, and capturing volunteer’s information, we quickly built a database of thousands of volunteers that we now mobilize and re-engage year round, not just in September. Next, we got many of our ICC Captains to lead regular cleanups, ensuring their success by driving attendance from our database and weekly emails. We have seen significant usage from organizers and volunteers. In South Florida, there are several cleanups on our site for each weekend that are well attended. In just two years, we’ve facilitated 715 cleanups, 37,096 volunteer hours from 5,000 registered volunteers and an estimated 130,000 pounds of marine debris removed from our local shorelines. We’d like to expand, and invite cleanup organizers around the world to use our website for ICC and beyond!


State and Local Best Practices, Insights, and Innovations to the International Coastal Cleanup Day

presenting: Marianne Butler (Solano Resource Conservation District, United States); authors: Marianne Butler (Solano Resource Conservation District, United States)

Though California’s Solano County lies inland, all of its watersheds drain to the Sacramento River or Carquinez Strait, through the San Francisco Bay and into the Pacific Ocean. Solano County commits significant time and resources to cleanup efforts along its waterways, sponsoring three events each year. Two of these events are county-wide efforts, involving collaboration with all of the County’s jurisdiction and a suite of private stakeholders who contribute funding, clean-up materials and other services. Each jurisdiction hosts multiple cleanup sites, coordinated by a city-designated manager. The County partners with the local RCD to coordinate events county-wide, providing outreach, multimedia advertising and support. Coastal Cleanup is the longest running cleanup event, and consistently brings out ≈2,600 volunteers, about .61% of the population. The other two events, on the Saturday closest to Earth Day and on World Environment Day, have smaller, but growing participation levels. Components integral to all events:

Zero Waste sensibility: 20 of 60 sites at the 2017 Coastal Cleanup generated no additional waste by volunteers or coordinators K-12 environmental education curriculum: Inclusion of marine debris and waste reduction stewardship units in programs for third graders, 6th graders and high school students. Use Of CRV funds to support removal events: leveraging State grant monies to get cleanup activities on the ground Long-term partnerships with local businesses: developing long-term sponsors to increase community buy-in and the number of County cleanup sites. Annual, calendared events: Encouragement of annual participation by individuals, groups and partners, to make cleanup participation a part of the yearly calendar.