The International Coastal Cleanup

We bring here a synopsis of the International Coastal Cleanup, a yearly effort to clean up the coastlines of the world and improve ocean health. Each year on the third Saturday in September (in 2011, it’s on 17th September), several hundreds of thousands of volunteers clean up litter from lakes, rivers, and beaches around the world.

We also cover the efforts being taken for International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore. Your participation with friends, family and colleagues would make a big difference in cleaning up coastlines and also generating awareness about how our consumption habits are linked to ocean trash, and the effects it has on marine life.


The International Coastal Cleanup is a yearly campaign by The Ocean Conservancy, a Washington D.C, US based non-profit organisation. The Ocean Conservancy was founded in 1972, with goals to promote healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems, and to oppose practices that threaten oceanic and human life.

OVER THE PAST 25 YEARS, Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup has become the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean health. Nearly nine million volunteers from 152 countries and locations have cleaned 145 million pounds of trash from the shores of lakes, streams, rivers, and the ocean on just one day each year.

Along with the cleanup, every item found is weighed, counted and recorded, and cumulative data from the countries are compiled, giving a clear picture of the kind of items that affect humans, wildlife and economies.


The Ocean Conservancy’s 2011 report, ” Tracking Trash: 25 Years of Action for the Ocean” summarises what the data collected over 25 years shows and how it has inspired action.

The information collected is quite telling:

  • During the 25th annual Cleanup in 2010, over six hundred thousand (615,407) people removed more than eight million (8,698,572) pounds of trash.
  • In 2010, volunteers collected enough tires to outfit almost fifty-five hundred (5,464) cars.
  • In 2010 the amount of cigarettes/cigarette butts collected is equal to nearly ninety-five thousand (94,626) packs of cigarettes.
  • The eight million pounds of trash collected during the 2010 Cleanup would cover about 170 football fields.

Highlighted Results from the Past 25 Years of Cleanups

  • Fifty-three million cigarettes/cigarette filters that have been found would fill 100 Olympic-size swimming pools.
  • Appliances collected over 25 years of Cleanups (117,356) would fill 32,600 dump trucks.
  • Over 863 thousand (863,135) diapers would be enough to put one on every child born in the UK last year.
  • Over the past 25 years, more than eight and a half million (8,763,377) volunteers have removed one hundred and forty-five million (144,606,491)pounds of trash in 152 countries and locations.
  • Volunteers have collected enough cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons over 25 years to host a picnic for 2 million people.

(Summary from ICCS)

TAKE ACTION: Action begins with each of us. Join schools and organisations within your country or city participating in The International Coastal Cleanup, or Plan your own International Coastal Cleanup Event.

Here are 10 things you can do to stop marine debris recommended by The Ocean Conservancy.


 The International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore (ICCS) 2011

If you’re in Singapore on 17th September 2011,  do join the International Coastal Cleanup here as an independent volunteer. Bring your family, friends and colleagues along too.

Interestingly, today Vincent Kang had posted a comment in Today Online about the sudden surge in trash found in the East Coast.  So your helping hands will be much appreciated!

If you’ve missed the briefing conducted on August 27th by N. Sivasothi, National Co-ordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore 2011, here’s a full recording of the session where he gives an excellent overview of marine life in Singapore, the experiences from past cleanup events, and tons of housekeeping tips on what to do on September 17th, as regards to safety tips and data collection and recording.

Ria Tan summarises the efforts of ICCS well in today’s Wildshores post.

ICCS is NOT just about picking up litter. It is about educating people and collecting data about the litter on our shores. Like Vincent Kang asked in his letter above, ICCS helps answer the question: where does the litter come from?

Marine Debris at Changi - Photo: Wild Singapore

ICCS involves thousands of people. It is the single most important event in the year to raise awareness about marine litter. All the shores are targeted. From mangroves to recreational beaches. Remote shore to accessible shores.

Trash on our shores costs us money. More than $1million to be precise. And that’s just on the recreational shores. A report for the 21 APEC economies reveals a conservative estimate of damage caused by marine litter to be US$1.265 billion. This is just the cost to fishing and boat industries. This does NOT include costs to wildlife, loss of tourism and lost capital development opportunities, like building a hotel or resort. It also does NOT include the clean-up bill.

Marine debris KILLS! In Jun 2011, a dead sea turtle was found to have swallowed 317 plastic pieces in Australia. Even something as seemingly innocent as balloons, often released in masses during celebratory events, can kill. More about how balloons and soft plastic kill sea turtles slowly and painfully.

You CAN make a difference. Individual sign up is open for 17 Sep 2011 (Sat) 8am – 12pm. More details on the ICCS website with online registration.  You can also sign up with the ICCS mailing list or subscribe to theICCS blog or twitter for updates.



Further links you may be interested in:

TED Talks:

1. Capt. Charles Moore on the seas of plastic

2. Sylvia Earle’s TED Prize wish to protect our oceans

3. Chris Jordan pictures some shocking stats


Short URL: http://www.ecowalkthetalk.com/blog/?p=8018

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Posted by on Sep 8 2011. Filed under Behaviour Change, Plastics, Water/Marine Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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