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Inaugural Coastal Cleanup Month in September encourages self-guided cleanups

In September, Orange County residents’ efforts to protect California’s coast will begin in their own neighborhoods. This year, the California Coastal Commission’s 36th Annual California Coastal Cleanup is transforming from a cleanup day to a cleanup month – taking place throughout the entire month of September, with an emphasis on each Saturday of the month. So, Newport Beach...let’s roll up ourselves to help keep our waterways and ocean healthy.

Orange County Coastkeeper encourages community members to clean the coast by sweeping through their own neighborhoods and local parks, creeks, streams, rivers and the coast (where accessible) to help prevent single-use plastic items and other litter from polluting the environment and flowing into the ocean.

Residents are encouraged to collect trash that travels from inland communities via the county’s rivers and storm drains. Beach cleanups stand as a last line of defense to prevent this debris from polluting our ocean and its wildlife. 

Inaugural Coastal Cleanup CdM tidepools

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Photos courtesy of Orange County Coastkeeper

Cleaning up the Corona del Mar tidepools

Because of the pandemic, this year’s annual coastal cleanup will not have predetermined locations, therefore there won’t be any times when people should join the cleanups. Cleanups will take place wherever people can participate from, and can be done at any time of the day, even on days other than Saturday.

“We love getting our volunteers together for this massive effort to prevent trash from ending up in our oceans each year, and we are confident that many more people will be able to participate in the cleanup from their own neighborhoods,” said Garry Brown, Orange County Coastkeeper founder and president. “Even from our homes we can have an impact on the health of our coastal environments – we all must do our part to preserve them.”

Last year, more than 4,900 volunteers headed to cleanup sites across the county to join the fight against ocean pollution during Coastal Cleanup Day. Orange County Coastkeeper coordinated 22 cleanup sites, where volunteers removed more than 25,000 pounds of trash from beaches, parks and wetlands. This year, Coastkeeper hopes community members will feel empowered to remove even more trash from their local waterways to preserve and protect our coast.

How to get involved:

Coastkeeper will host a weekly scavenger hunt contest to encourage Orange County residents to participate in the cleanup. Participants can win prizes, like Coastal Cleanup Day T-shirts and postcards, by finding specific trash items during the cleanup, taking a photo of the items and uploading it to social media each Saturday of the month.

To enter the prize drawing, participants must caption their public social media posts with the #CoastkeeperClean, #ProtectYourHappyPlace and #CoastalCleanupDay hashtags. Those with a private profile can email their entries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Entries must be received by each Saturday in September and winners will be announced the following Monday.

To find out more information on how to join the effort, visit the Coastkeeper’s Coastal Cleanup Day page. Volunteers are asked to download and use the Clean Swell data collection app in order to record their finds and be counted towards the volunteer and trash totals, or to fill out and submit a paper data card, available in both English and Spanish.

Inaugural Coastal Cleanup Newport Pier

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A beach cleanup near Newport Pier

Safety measures:

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Coastal Cleanup organizers, including Orange County Coastkeeper, across the state recognized that hosting traditional cleanup “sites” with large gatherings of volunteers would not be safe this year. However, Californians can honor the spirit and intention of the cleanup while staying close to home and following public health guidelines. Cleaning neighborhoods and local natural areas provides a valuable service to the coast and our communities alike.

California Coastal Cleanup Day, organized by the California Coastal Commission, is an annual, statewide event that attracts thousands of volunteers to keep beaches across California clean, beautiful and thriving. Californians continue to show they care deeply about the environment by supporting the cleanup year after year. More than 1.6 million volunteers have removed more than 26 million pounds of trash over the past three decades in what has become the largest and one of the longest running annual volunteer events in the state. Last year alone, more than 74,000 volunteers cleared more than 800,000 pounds of trash from shorelines and waterways – all in a matter of hours.

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