How to Throw the Best Mother’s Day Beach Clean-Up Ever

Attention, ocean loving moms! This Mother’s Day, or for any special occasion such as a birthday, how about organizing a beach clean-up? I know, beach clean-up and Mother’s Day sound like they don’t necessarily belong in the same sentence but consider this. The ocean is always there for us and a beach picnic is part of the plan anyway. I threw my own Mother’s Day beach clean-up this year in the UK (where Mother’s Day is super early in the year in March) and wanted to share the experience, to inspire others.

beach clean up

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Why a Mother’s Day Beach Clean-Up?

Over the years, I’ve always showed how much I love the ocean and how much I hate what we’re doing with plastics. From recycling plastic bottles, to summer solstice on Muir Beach, kids leading environmental conservation efforts,  5 simple steps to save the oceans or volunteering with sea turtles, Frog Mom has been my way to shout to the world that I love the ocean. How could I not? I grew up on an island in the South Pacific, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean from my baby years. I never stopped loving the ocean wherever I lived, whether it was in France, in Thailand or in California.

 

beach clean up

If anything, I became aware that the ocean needed us as protectors, that the ocean was not an infinite source of fish, colorful corals and clear waters. As a parent, I shared my appreciation of the ocean with my girls and together, we always look for ways to fight the biggest threat to the ocean – plastics. Our latest efforts at home have included getting collapsible coffee cups (buy them here: US | UK) and metal straws (buy them here: US | UK). That’s as many Starbucks cups and plastic straws that won’t end up in landfills or in the ocean.

However, I realize that the impact of our small 4-person household is limited. What about all the plastic that ends up in the ocean, dumped without afterthought at the end of a sunny picnic or blown by the wind from an overflowing beach bin? Not to mention all plastic of commercial origin, coming from fishing boats or coastal businesses. If nobody picks it up, it’ll end up in the ocean, join the plastic garbage patches or degrade into plankton-size molecules that kill marine wildlife.

beach clean up

Somebody’s got to do something about all this plastic and as the Lorax would have said, UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Therefore, I speak for the oceans, for the oceans have no tongues.

What You Need

That is what I did for my own beach clean-up.

  • A beach at low tide. It sounds obvious but you need a beach to do a beach clean-up and if your beach is tidal (not all are), it’s best to visit at low tide when all plastics have washed along the high tide mark.
  • 100L sturdy garbage bags. Given the sheer volume of plastic items littering the beach, such as bottles of all kinds, a large garbage bag is the bare minimum. Come to think of it, I should have taken two but I only had two hands to carry the bag I filled.
  • Protective gloves. I didn’t have any and really regretted having to use my bare hands on fishing ropes, filthy bottles and rusty cans.
  • Sturdy closed-toe shoes. I picked a beach with tide pools and in order to explore them at low tide, rain boots were a must. You never know what you’ll step on at the beach, unfortunately.
  • Gardening shears. Another thing I didn’t have and that would have been very handy to cut off a large fishing net stuck under rocks.

My Own Illustrated Beach Clean Up

I started towards the low tide mark as I knew that the sea was going to start coming in. I looked for anything that didn’t look natural

  • bright colors
  • perfect shapes
  • shiny stuff

Initially, I found rusty fishing metal equipment or maybe it was a car part but I couldn’t tell.

beach clean up

Sometimes, I had to really look and bend to collect garbage such as plastic pipes half-buried in sand or metal spikes.

beach clean up

Little by little, the bag started filling up.

Beach Clean Up

I spent 10 minutes trying to pull and untangle this knot of fishing net, ropes and seaweeds but I wasn’t strong enough to get it all out. That’s where gardening shears would have been great.

Beach clean up

Then I moved up to the high tide mark and with my 12-year-old daughter, we hit the jackpot.

Plastic bottles!

Glass bottles!

Beer cans!

Plastic cutlery!

Plastic jerrycans!

For good measure, check out the size of the bag compared to my 12-year-old daughter. Not for the faint-hearted, eh?

Beach clean up

And there was still so much more but I couldn’t carry more as the bag was full. I fantasized about bringing a group of friends and doing the same thing.

It only took 40 minutes and 100L of plastic/various human trash was off the ocean.

Beach Clean Ups Feel Great

As I returned to the parking area where I stacked the closed garbage bag next to to a public bin, groups of people complimented me for picking up plastic. One or two thanked me for the clean up and told each other that they should do the same next time. Now, I’m not doing this for personal glory but it feels great to see your efforts acknowledged. It feels even better to now that maybe, some other people will do a beach clean up next time they come for their Sunday walk. Little by little, your efforts can snowball. If everybody starts doing it as a routine, imagine what we could remove from the ocean!

Spread the word and organize your own beach clean up. You will be galvanized and so will your kids.

beach clean up

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Laure Latham

Laure is an author, environmental advocate, blogger, open water swimmer and now mother. She's passionate about inspiring families to enjoy the outdoors with their children, learning to unplug and living a healthy lifestyle, giving kids life skills and exploring the world around us sharing Family Friendly, Fun Ideas for the whole family on Frog Mom.

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