Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, here comes a straw. Or a shopping bag. Or plastic six-pack rings. The fact is, as people flock to the shores in the summer heat, marine life and coastlines can quickly suffer the consequences. So, to highlight the crucial need to maintain and preserve healthy beaches, the first week of every July marks National Clean Beaches Week in the U.S. Think of it as Earth Day for beaches. Started in 2003 by the Clean Beaches Coalition, this week-long campaign quickly caught on — the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate both unanimously passed the National Clean Beaches Week Resolution in 2007. So, whether you’re heading out on the water or simply sinking your feet in the sand, let’s all dip our toes in and explore ways to participate and help keep our shorelines pristine.
What is Clean Beaches Week?
From July 1 to 7, Clean Beaches Week emphasizes the significance of beach conservation while fostering an understanding that our sandy shores are natural wonders, vital ecological habitats, and economic assets. It’s a fantastic excuse to head out to the beach and clean up debris along the shores and beyond.
Why is Clean Beaches Week important?
Debris and pollution aren’t just an eyesore. Human activity has wreaked havoc on the delicate ecosystems of the oceans, with plastics, toxic waste, oil, fuels, and garbage dumped into these vital waters for centuries. Ocean trash poses a threat not only to marine life but human health. (Learn here how all our ecosystems piggyback off one another.) The statistics speak for themselves. Nearly 90% of ocean trash is plastic, including microplastics. Plastic has been discovered in 59% of seabirds, including albatrosses and pelicans. It’s also been found in every single sea turtle species examined. Even more shocking, more than 25% of the fish sampled from seafood markets worldwide have contained traces of plastic — meaning if you eat seafood, you’re most likely consuming plastic.
Additionally, oceans provide half of the oxygen we breathe, feed nearly 500 million people, and contain 80% of the world’s life forms. Most of the oxygen from the ocean is thanks to plankton along with drifting plants, algae, and some bacteria that photosynthesize. The more marine life that becomes endangered or goes extinct, the less access we have to oxygen, leading to polluted and unbreathable air.
How to get involved in Clean Beaches Week this July
If you want to participate, you’ll be doing great work towards a healthier planet! Luckily, the event offers an array of activities and initiatives that allow individuals everywhere — even if you’re not near the beach — to contribute to the preservation and celebration of our coastlines. Here are some ways to get involved in Clean Beaches Week:
Organize or join a beach cleanup
Gather your friends, family, colleagues, or local community and organize a beach cleanup event. Contact local environmental organizations, community groups, or even city authorities to seek guidance. Get the word out on social media or hand out flyers in your area to find more participants. You can also take part in existing cleanup initiatives. Ask or search around for local events. Look for beach cleanups in your area using the Ocean Conservancy website here.
Spread the word about Clean Beaches Week
Share informative posts, captivating images, and engaging facts about beach conservation on social media platforms. Use hashtags like #CleanBeachesWeek, #ProtectOurShores, and #BeachPreservation to amplify your message online. Encourage your friends, followers, and acquaintances to join the cause and actively participate in activities that promote clean beaches.
Support local conservation efforts
Connect with local environmental organizations, beach preservation groups, or marine conservation nonprofits where you live. This week represents an excellent opportunity to volunteer your time and resources to support their efforts in protecting and maintaining clean beaches. These organizations often organize educational programs, habitat restoration projects, and advocacy campaigns. So, you’ll be able to learn a lot about helping our planet along the way.
Embrace sustainable practices
Implement sustainable living habits during Clean Beaches Week and throughout the year. Reduce reliance on single-use plastics by using reusable water bottles, shopping bags, and metal or bamboo straws. Disposing of waste responsibly, recycling whenever possible, and being conscious of our environmental impact are also essential. These are just a few ways to live a more sustainable life. Even if it’s a small act like bringing your reusable bag to the grocery store or requesting a paper one at checkout, you can do your part. You can also combat your plastic waste in the laundry room by switching to an eco-friendly detergent. Our SaltyLama laundry sheets are concentrated, liquid-free, and come in sustainable paper packaging, allowing you to keep plastic out of your laundry routine.
Participate in educational events
If you don’t live near a beach, no problem! You can also attend workshops, seminars, or educational events (online or in person) organized by local environmental organizations or beach conservation groups. You can learn valuable insights into the challenges faced by coastal ecosystems, ways to mitigate pollution, and opportunities to take action. Stay informed about current research, conservation practices, and regulations related to beach preservation and other related environmental issues.
Do your part while on vacation
If you’re hitting the beach this summer, practice sustainable tourism and be mindful of your impact on the local environment. Follow designated paths and avoid trampling on sensitive dune ecosystems. Dispose of waste properly, recycle, and respect local regulations regarding wildlife protection. By being a responsible tourist, you contribute to preserving the beach ecosystem for future generations.
National Clean Beaches Week provides a crucial opportunity for individuals to celebrate the beauty of our beaches while recognizing the urgent need for their protection. By participating, you can do your part in making planet Earth a better place for all life.