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International Coastal Cleanup

The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup has become the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean health. This past year, more than 600,000 volunteers from 114 countries and 46 states came out to help pick up nearly 9 million pounds of trash that would have ended up in our oceans, where it causes harm to marine animals and fouls our beaches and parks.

The information volunteers collect on their debris data cards sets this event apart from any other beach or waterway cleanup effort. The Ocean Conservancy publishes the data gathered during the annual event in the Ocean Trash Index, an item-by-item, location-by-location account of marine debris picked up by volunteers on just one day. Organizations use the data to help promote legislation on marine issues, to educate the public about the dangers and amounts of marine debris in our waterways, and to inform policy and solutions.

Help Rid the Ocean of Debris

  • Join the International Coastal Cleanup: Check out to find cleanup opportunities.
  • Sign up for the Fort McHenry Field Day on October 6, which contributes its data on trash collected to the same Ocean Trash Index.
  • Sign the pledge and invite your friends to Take on the Trash: build the movement to reduce the impact of trash on our ocean.
  • Organize your own cleanup! The Ocean Conservancy offers a downloadable kit that gives you everything you need to lead the charge in your own community.
  • See other small changes you can make in your everyday life to reduce waste here.
  • Donate to the National Aquarium's Conservation and Animal Rescue programs.

Numbers From the 2011 International Coastal Cleanup

    598,076 people picked up 9,184,427 pounds of trash along 20,775 miles of coastline.

    Over the past 26 years, 9,361,453 volunteers have removed 153,790,918 pounds of trash from more than 312,290 miles of coastline and waterways in 153 countries and locations.

    Volunteers found:

    • Enough clothing (266,997 items) to outfit every audience member of the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
    • Enough food packaging (940,277 pieces) to get takeout for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for the next 858 years.
    • Enough light bulbs (24,384 bulbs) to replace every light on the Eiffel Tower.
    • Enough beverage cans and glass beverage containers that, if recycled, would net $45,489.15.

    In the past 26 years of cleanups, volunteers found:

    • 55 million cigarettes butts, which, if stacked vertically, would be as tall as 3,613 Empire State Buildings.
    • Enough glass and plastic bottles to provide every resident of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia a cold beverage on a hot summer day.
    • Enough appliances (125,156) to fill 37,434 single-axle dump trucks.
    • 870,935 diapers[em-dash]enough to put one on every child born in the UK last year.
    • Enough cups, plates, forks, knives, and spoons to host a picnic for 2.15 million people.
    • Learn more at

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