Coastal Cleanup Day Is Now Coastal Cleanup Month

Become part of the solution to ocean pollution on four Saturdays in September during Coastal Cleanup Month. This year, instead of gathering together at beaches and sites throughout the County on a single day, cleanups will occur during the entire month of September, with an emphasis on each Saturday of the month. From 9:00 am to Noon on September 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th, Californians will prevent marine debris from entering the ocean by picking up trash in their neighborhoods and local natural areas. Cleaning up the streets is important because all trash flows to the ocean through storm drains. Even though Coastal Cleanup Day’s usual format has been changed due to COVID-19, community members can still make a difference for the coast close to home!

To make this a safe cleanup for everyone in Santa Barbara County, community members are encouraged to practice physical distancing and strictly follow both local ordinances and the set of guidelines provided on the California Coastal Commission website. Read the guidelines here.

Although the Coastal Cleanup Day model is different this year due to the ongoing pandemic, our cleanup efforts will still make a huge difference for the coast. Last year 1,259 volunteers picked up over 5,663 pounds of trash and 674 pounds of recyclables. Santa Barbara County residents are invited to do one or all of the cleanups during Coastal Cleanup Month to try to beat last year’s record! 

Julia Keane, Coastal Cleanup Day Coordinator for Explore Ecology, says “Coastal Cleanup Day has transformed into a unique opportunity for us to clean up more trash than ever. Staying close to home is important for keeping the community safe, but also for cleaning a part of our coast that usually gets neglected. Our homes are part of something called a watershed. A watershed is any area of land where water flows across the land and drains into one location. It’s important to recognize that we are all in a watershed, which means that any trash that ends up on the land will eventually make it to the ocean, no matter how close you are to the coast. The water on our streets trickles into the storm drains, flows through a pipe, and enters our local creeks, eventually emptying out into the ocean. 80% of the trash that ends up as marine debris, came from people on land. Every Saturday in September we now have the opportunity to prevent those plastic food wrappers, bottles, cigarette butts, and more from clogging up our storm drains and finding their way into our beautiful oceans. Imagine the impact we could make if every single one of our neighbors picked up one pound of trash during Coastal Cleanup Month. Let’s protect our happy places by cleaning up our streets this September.” 

Research shows that 33% of shellfish, 25% of fish, and 67% of marine species in California contain plastics, primarily micro plastics. With statistics like these, it’s easy to feel hopeless about how much plastic trash is in the ocean. Participating in Coastal Cleanup Month is an effective way to make a difference and take a stand against marine debris.

Coastal Cleanup Month is part of a much larger statewide and international event. Beginning in 1984, with one concerned resident on the Oregon Coast and followed in 1985 by the first California event, Coastal Cleanup Day has since grown to become the largest single-day volunteer effort in the world. This tremendous cleanup effort would not be possible without the hard work and services provided by local businesses, organizations, and community members who act as site captains and by the many community members who volunteer their time and labor. Their efforts not only help improve the health of the ocean and its wildlife, but the data collected provides important information regarding the types, quantity, and location of marine debris. This data is analyzed by the Ocean Conservancy and distributed to governments and organizations throughout the world in the hope that it will help preserve our oceans, rivers, and lakes.

Volunteers of all ages can participate. Pre-registration is not required, but is encouraged. To register, visit ExploreEcology/ Go to Explore Ecology’s website for more information at ExploreEcology/ or email Julia at Invite your friends to attend on Facebook by visiting

This year, volunteers are asked to install the Clean Swell App on their phones and use the App to record the trash they collect. Visit the statewide Ocean Conservancy’s website for links to download the app. Clean Swell will instantaneously upload to the Ocean Conservancy’s global ocean trash database. These data deliver a global snapshot of ocean trash, providing researchers and policy-makers insight to inform solutions. 

For those who don’t want to or are unable to use the app for recording their trash, volunteers can download Data Sheets in English and Spanish and also enter data online on our Google Data Form

Throughout the month, stay connected with volunteers across the County by visiting our Instagram and Facebook Pages. Upload photos, videos, and share what you find on social media with the hashtags #protectyourhappyplace and #coastalcleanup. Although we can’t meet in person this year, we can stay connected virtually.

In Santa Barbara County, Coastal Cleanup Day is brought to you by Explore Ecology and our partner the County of Santa Barbara Resource Recovery and Waste Management, with support from the Cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Solvang. The California Coastal Commission organizes the statewide event and the international event is organized by the Ocean Conservancy.

Special Thanks to our partner the County of Santa Barbara’s Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division.

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