Coastal cleanups

PTMSC strives to conduct several cleanups along our local coastlines in Jefferson County each year! Many of our cleanups are in partnership with Washington CoastSavers and Ocean Conservancy, like the Washington Coastal Cleanup (WCC) and International Coastal Cleanup (ICC).

You, your family and friends can join in one of our upcoming coastal cleanups! Volunteers collect and sort debris as well as contribute data on their findings to the Ocean Conservancy’s international database, via their Clean Swell app. If you are already collecting trash from your local beaches, waterways, parks and roads, check below for more information on the Clean Swell app and for resources on providing a possible second life for some of the debris you might find.

Upcoming cleanups

September, 2024 – International Coastal Cleanup

Marine debris collected to date

Check out how much marine debris has been collected from our local coastlines with the help of countless volunteers, like yourselves, over just the past few years!

Year# of volunteersPounds of debris removed
April – WCC, Earth Day Cleanup1714,700 pounds (350 lbs were recycled, repurposed, or reused; 70 lbs were returned to aquaculture business for reuse)
February – Love Your Earth Cleanup40500
April – WCC, Earth Day Cleanup1732,000 (850 lbs recycled; 100 lbs returned to aquaculture businesses for reuse)
September – International Coastal Cleanup35175
April – WCC, Earth Day Cleanup1342,100
September – International Coastal Cleanup68 350
January – MLK Day beach cleanup110not available
September – International Coastal Cleanup32174
October – with Puget Soundkeeper32554
April – WCC, Earth Day Cleanupcanceled
September – International Coastal Cleanup52164
April – WCC, Earth Day Cleanup76670
September – International Coastal Cleanup77120
April – WCC, Earth Day Cleanup130652
September – International Coastal Cleanup52194
April – WCC, Earth Day Cleanup141not available
September – International Coastal Cleanup54200

Why is marine debris a problem?

An estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean every year (that is more than 20 billion pounds)! This is in addition to the estimated 200 million metric tons that are already circulating in our marine environments. (Source

From plankton to whales, marine debris pollution is harmful to all marine life! Whether through ingestion, entanglement, or contamination (since plastic can attract other pollutants in the environment), species worldwide are poorly affected. It is also well documented that marine debris is harmful to humans. This pollution threatens food safety and quality, as well as, quality of life and economies in coastal communities.

It’s estimated that 80% of the world’s ocean plastics enter the ocean via rivers and coastlines (Source). Thus, without efforts to clean up our local coastlines and waterways, the problem only grows. 

Ultimately this is a human-caused problem due to the worldwide increased use of plastics over decades and an emphasis on the disposability of goods. We are responsible to take action.

What does action look like?

Resources for all these action items can be found below.

  • Are you already picking up trash on the beaches and waterways near you? Download and use the Clean Swell app to keep record of the impact you’ve had keeping our oceans trash free! And, you’re helping provide valuable data for scientists and policymakers.
  • Participate in local coastal cleanups! Some sites we use to find local efforts are: WA CoastSavers, Ocean Conservancy’s ICC, National Cleanup Day, Surfrider, Keep America Beautiful. However, a quick google search for cleanup efforts near you may pull up other small organizations doing great work in your area!
  • Don’t live on the coast? Several of the sites listed above include cleanup efforts along rivers or other inland locations!
  • Did you know most marine debris actually originates from land? (Source 1, Source 2) Supporting roadside cleanups can make a huge impact by making sure this debris never even makes it to the marine environment! Locally, we love supporting the Jeff Co Trash Task Force. They head out every month to collect debris off our roadways. We bet there is someone near you doing this same amazing work that could use your support!
  • Can’t find a cleanup near you? Organize one! Here is a great resource on what you’ll need to create your own!
  • Action also looks like addressing our personal reliance on plastic!  Zero Waste Chef provides a great resource and inspiration on ways we can reduce our personal plastic waste.
  • Most importantly, we need to pressure industries to reimagine and revamp their business practices in order to reduce plastic use and waste at the source – and they are the source! The Story of Stuff project has some great campaigns that provide you with a starting point for holding major corporations accountable. Find it here!

What do we do with this data?

Since many of our cleanups are hosted alongside organizations like Washington CoastSavers, we contribute to larger databases regarding marine pollution. We also use this data, and debris, in our exhibit spaces to bring awareness to marine pollution and the scope of this problem. 

At each cleanup, we encourage participants to categorize and log the debris they collect through the Clean Swell app. This provides an opportunity for individuals to turn the trash they pick up into valuable data for scientists and policymakers.

What do we do with the trash collected?

Looking forward, we hope to develop more partnerships with individuals and organizations who can help us provide second lives for the debris collected in our cleanups. There are many ways to achieve this, with Reuse being our primary goal! 

One example of this is our dedication to developing partnerships with shellfish growers in order to return aquaculture gear collected that can still be used – instead of tossing it! Reuse can also be accomplished through art, like the marine debris installation at our downtown store and visitor center, pictured here.

If items are not deemed reusable, we aim to collaborate with organizations working to recycle marine debris related items! An amazing example of these types of organizations is Net Your Problem!

Reuse can also be accomplished through art, like the marine debris installation at our downtown store and visitor center, pictured here.


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