Think about your dream holiday: it’s you, a spot in the sun and view over endless, crystal clear waters. The ocean is inspiring, reinvigorating, refreshing, but it’s also under threat.
According to National Geographic, there are over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the big blue, with tons of waste floating on the surface or cluttering up our beaches. It’s not just an assault on your vacation; the sea produces about half the oxygen in the atmosphere and absorbs most of the world’s carbon dioxide.
With marine life and our livelihoods in danger, charitable organizations have rushed to the frontlines to battle the destruction. Beach cleanup nonprofits in the U.S. have worked tirelessly over the past decades, mobilizing citizens and combing along America’s coasts to sift the sands and remove litter by hand.
Together they are stemming the flow of trash and preserving our beaches and seas for future generations. These three groups stand out from the rest:
1. Pacifica Beach Coalition (PBC)
Based in San Mateo County, C.A., this group grew from a small team to recruiting over 13,000 volunteers and winning many awards. Behind its success has been a simple core message: growing a community of “Earth Heroes” to go out into the world and protect the environment.
While its Annual Beach Cleanup Day is one of its most popular endeavors, the innovative “Adopt a Beach” initiative has become a novel and effective way of encouraging people to take ownership over their local stretches of sand. Individuals, groups or companies can “adopt” a beach under the condition that they commit to three separate cleanups every year.
Proof that it works: last year, the Pacifica Tribune reported that PBC volunteers had picked up and disposed of 169,000 cigarette butts on local beaches. Now, the organization hopes to create more “Earth Heroes” through community outreach and education programs at schools, workplaces and civic institutions.
2. Surfrider Foundation
When a group of Malibu surfers witnessed the widespread damage of unbridled littering and pollution back in the 1980s, they decided to start fighting back. It all began with small beach clean-ups and now has snowballed into a global organization with over 250,000 members and 84 chapters in the United States alone.
In San Diego, you will find one of the group’s largest and active chapters.
The organization tasks volunteers with protecting and cleaning nearly 70 miles of coastline. It’s a mammoth challenge, one only made possible by a team of passionate coordinators who have committed endless hours to Surfrider and its vision.
To date, the chapter has removed 9,400 lbs of trash from San Diego’s beaches during its 135 scheduled cleanups.
3. Our Beach
They call themselves the Grassroots Garbage Gang, a group waging a turf war against plastic bottles, packets, and packaging. Together, they’re cleaning up over 28 miles of sandy Pacific Ocean beach in Long Beach Peninsula, W.A.
Back in 2001, residents watched in horror as visiting beachgoers buried the sands under heaps of tossed bottles, cans, and packets. A ragtag crew staged the organization’s first ever cleanup, sifting through the polluted sands and restoring the sullied coastline.
Now, the nonprofit has collected nearly 500 tons of trash from sandy stretches along the Washington coastline. It’s an achievement that hasn’t gone unnoticed, with the organization snagging three coveted E-Chievement Awards for their work.
The initiative now attracts volunteers from across the state.