Before the Cleanup

Ready to organize your own cleanup? Here’s what to do next.
Be Safe!
During the COVID-19 pandemic please take the follow precautions for health and safety:
  • Monitor your health and that of your team members before considering a cleanup. If you or anyone you know is feeling ill or showing symptoms of COVID-19, DO NOT take part in a cleanup.
  • If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the days leading up to your planned cleanup of any size, DO NOT take part in the cleanup.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before heading out to clean.
  • Have one person in your group download the Clean Swell app. This person can be your group’s designated data recorder and photographer.
Pick a Location
Identify beaches or waterways in your community that could be cleaned and that are safe and accessible. Come up with a plan to dispose of the trash and recyclables you collect properly. Visit the site in advance of the cleanup date to determine:
  • Where to set up a check-in station
  • Where to leave bags of trash and recyclables
  • What areas volunteers will clean
Contact Your Team
Encourage Club members, Rotaractors, Interactors, EarlyActors, friends, family and colleagues to get involved and help organise the cleanup. Create a Facebook event so that volunteers can RSVP and you can easily communicate with attendees. Spread the word through email, social media and e-invites. Meet ahead of time with other volunteers to plan the event and assign roles. In your outreach, make sure to mention Ocean Conservancy’s data collection app, Clean Swell, for volunteers to download before the cleanup.
Gather Supplies
Determine what kinds of supplies you will need, such as:
  • Gloves for volunteers (or ask volunteers bring a pair of gloves with them)
  • Bottled water to keep volunteers hydrated (or ask volunteers to bring their refillable bottles)
  • First-aid kit for minor cuts and scrapes
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Trash bags (or ask volunteers to bring reusable containers, like buckets)
  • Sign-in sheet to record the participant details and enable you to contact them later
  • Hand sanitiser or wipes for volunteers after the cleanup
Keep These Safety Tips in Mind
Review what to do in case of an emergency (heat exhaustion, broken bone, etc.) and find out whether any of your volunteers have medical training or know basic first aid. When visiting the site, look for natural and man-made safety hazards, such as rocky areas, highly variable tides, poisonous plants, high-speed roads, power lines, etc. If necessary, inform your volunteers that they may need to dress accordingly, such as wearing long pants or closed-toed shoes.
Plan ahead for handling sharp items, such as syringes or pieces of broken glass. We recommend disposing of these items in a wide-mouth container with a tight screw lid, such as an empty liquid laundry detergent bottle that you have clearly labeled.
Plan Ahead to Reduce Waste at Your Event
Providing a meal at your cleanup can be tricky when you’re trying to reduce waste! Use these tips to cut down on packaging, single-use plastics and food waste:
  • Provide healthy snacks, such as fruit, that don’t require packaging!
  • Serve easy to eat food – sandwiches  and veggies/chips & dip – can  be eaten without cutlery.
  • Ask volunteers to bring lunch with them, or make it a potluck!
  • If you host events regularly, consider purchasing reusable items that you wash between events.
  • If ordering from a restaurant for a meal, make sure to speak with them beforehand about your choice to minimise waste.
  • Donate any leftover food to a local soup kitchen.
Volunteers must have water at cleanups, but it doesn’t have to be from a disposable bottle! Avoid single-use plastics with these tactics:
  • Provide a container of water at the event and encourage volunteers to bring reusable water bottles. Make sure to pack reusable or compostable cups as well for those without.
  • Purchase, borrow, or rent reusable water solutions to avoid using single-use plastic water bottles.
Rather than single-use latex gloves, purchase reusable gardening gloves to use over and over for cleanups! Wash them in a regular laundry machine in between cleanups (let them air dry if they have rubber on them). Or ask volunteers to bring their own reusable gardening gloves.
Reduce the impact from transportation to the event by encouraging volunteers to walk, bike, use public transport, or carpool to the event.
Deposit Bins
Make sure to label bins with explanations of what items can go where. Tape signs to bins for “Compost,” “Recycling,” and “Landfill”.  You can sort the debris you collect and the waste generated during the event. This is a great educational moment for volunteers!
  • Recycle: Be aware of what can be recycled locally and be sure to sort any items collected or used during the event to be recycled. This may include plastic, metal, or glass items.
  • Compost: Perhaps a volunteer has a compost bin at home or your community has a compost system in place. Collect organic materials such as food scraps and paper in this bin to be used in the future (if organics are left in landfills, it can interact with waste and generate immediate combustion of methane, a greenhouse gas over 100x more damaging than carbon dioxide).
  • Liquids: Sort out liquids so they don’t get sent to landfills.
  • Potentially hazardous materials: Check with your local authority to see what can be done with batteries, electronics, tires and even paint.
  • Landfill: Any items not recycled, composted or otherwise disposed of should be sent to landfill.

During the Cleanup

Ready to start cleaning up? Here’s what to do next.
Be Safe!
During the COVID-19 pandemic please take the follow precautions for health and safety:
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask or face covering when around others.
  • Volunteers should wear protective gloves during a cleanup and avoid touching their face, whether COVID-19 is a threat in the community or not. Work or gardening gloves that can be washed and reused are a great option, but at the very least, volunteers should wear rubber gloves to protect against germs and sharp or abrasive trash items.
  • Maintain distance between yourself and other people outside of your home. Stay at least 6 feet or 2 meters (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
  • While studies show that the main transmission of COVID-19 is from person-to-person, the virus can still remain viable on surfaces of a number of material types for hours to days. Volunteers should be mindful and cautious when picking up trash items and make sure trash is secured in a bag or other cleanup receptacles to limit contact.
  • Volunteers should never pick up any trash items that they do not feel comfortable touching. These might include, but are not limited to, glass, needles, nails and other sharp objects or gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE). These items can be pointed out to a supervising adult or cleanup leader or simply left where they are found.
  • Unless a biohazard or medical waste container is available, volunteers should not collect needles or other waste that looks to be medical waste. Needles should never be placed in a normal trash bag as they can easily poke through plastic film and harm volunteers.
  • Have your designated data recorder ready. All they need to do is follow along with your group at a safe distance and log trash items as they are found. Others in your group who are collecting can call out items as they are found, such as “Three plastic bottle caps” or “One beverage can,” and the recorder can tap these items on the app to keep tally.
Set Up
Arrive early to set up, post signs and label your trash drop-off site. At your check-in station, ensure you have pens, pencils and sign-in sheets ready for your volunteers.
What to Tell Volunteers
Emphasise the importance of data collection. Make sure everyone has Clean Swell downloaded so they can keep track of the items they are collecting. This valuable information is used not only to track your country’s progress, but also to create a snapshot of the global ocean trash problem and influence long-term solutions. Provide volunteers with a group name to be entered on each user’s collection screen—this makes it easy to look up your group totals later. Designating a data recorder for each group is recommended. It is easier to collect data as items are picked up, rather than sorting and tallying everything after you clean.
Instruct volunteers on what to do if they encounter any hazardous items, such as sharp objects or dead, entangled, or injured animals. Remind them of any local safety hazards, such as power lines or poison ivy.
Establish a point-person to stay at the check-in station in case of health emergencies or any late arrivals.
Tell volunteers what to do with the bags of trash and set a meeting time for the end of the cleanup so that everyone returns at the same time. Children should always be supervised.
Document the Cleanup
Take before and after photos of the cleanup site as well as shots of your volunteers in action and a final group picture with all of the trash collected. Clean Swell has a photo icon in the top right hand corner that allows volunteers to take photos during their cleanup which are automatically submitted with their data!
As the volunteers finish, remind them to review the information they entered into Clean Swell, such as number of participants and then make sure they submit!
Ensure that all trash is left in the designated drop-off location and that no materials are left behind as you leave the cleanup location.

After The Cleanup

Finished cleaning up? Here’s what to do next.
Be Safe!
During the COVID-19 pandemic please take the follow precautions for health and safety:
  • After carefully removing gloves, volunteers should thoroughly wash hands and arms with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not immediately available, volunteers should use hand sanitizer (alcohol content of 70% or higher) to clean hands and then wash hands again when soap and water are available.
  • Do NOT put loose trash or full trash bags in overflowing trash receptacles or bins.
  • Any gear used during a cleanup such as litter grabbers, reusable gloves or buckets should be sanitised immediately after the activity.
  • Is your designated data recorder ready to submit your finds? Make sure to follow all of the steps on Clean Swell to review and then submit your data. Your data is automatically submitted to Ocean Conservancy’s database when you see a “Thank You!” screen.
Share Your Results
After your volunteers submit their data on Clean Swell, encourage them to share it on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #7030cleanup!
Survey your cleanup team post-event. Encourage everyone to share experiences, stories and pictures about what they saw. This might encourage others to attend future events—and now is the time to start planning. Let them know about your next cleanup; get volunteers onboard while their enthusiasm is high!
Say Thank You
Send out an email saying, “Look what we did!” Include how many Club members, friends, family and community members joined in and the weight of trash that was collected. Celebrate your accomplishment as cleanup organisers and ocean advocates. Thank you!