Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Recycle It Right and Keep Trash Out of Our Oceans

recycling decoder for recycling codes used

Make Every Day a Coastal Cleanup Day

Every year in September, communities around the world band together to pick up trash. They're not just picking up trash for the sake of picking up trash. They're picking up trash to keep our oceans clean and safe for marine animals. And, they're cleaning up the environment for a better future for all humanity.

For the past 29 years, the Ocean Conservancy has hosted the International Coastal Cleanup. And what a success it is. In 2013, over 648,000 volunteers in 92 countries collected over 12 million pounds of garbage by walking 12,459 miles of shorelines and searching 455 miles of water. The numbers aren't in for 2014 just yet.

What kind of garbage did they find? 

At the top of the list are cigarette butts, food wrappers from potato chips and candy bars, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, and straws.

Stuff that people use every day. Items that would be so easy to toss in a waste receptacle or in a recycle bin. Things that could be eliminated from our environment.

I went on a search for ways to reduce and reuse some of the common garbage items found floating in our oceans and littering our coastlines. Junk food wrappers, plastic bottles, and bottle caps can be the inspiration for a craft project. And, disposable items are easily swapped out with sustainable and reusable goods.

Need some ideas?

Halloween is almost here and the perfect opportunity to rummage through the recycle bin for some scary decorations. Make a Mad Hatter Mini Top Hat with an old plastic cup and a damaged CD.

Plastic straws are so uncool. If you want to be the coolest kid on the block, get a set of Plastic Free Glass Drinking Straws for you and your friends.

Bottled water may be one of the biggest plastic garbage producers that our oceans see. Instead of buying bottled water, bottle your own and carry a Reusable Water Bottle.

Confused about recycling? 

The first step to keeping waste out of our oceans is to practice recycling the right way. Every community has different recycling programs, but there are some basic recycling rules that everyone follows. Print out this Recycling Decoder from the Ocean Conservancy. Post it on your refrigerator. Fold it up and keep it in your wallet or purse. Keep it handy for when you need it.

Want to get involved?

Start by Learning the Basics of Marine Debris. The Marine Debris program sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a wealth of educational resources. You'll find information on the types of waste found in our oceans, where it comes from, its impact on wildlife, how it affects the world economy, and solutions to this worldwide problem.

Then, organize a cleanup day in your neighborhood.
I hope you'll join us in keeping our world Clean and Beautiful.

Posted by Coletta Teske
Coletta Teske

About This Contributor

Coletta Teske writes reviews on books, business management, writing, crafting, cooking, and gardening. She is also an avid recycler and shares her tips on recycling. She delights in upcycling an old object, recycling or transforming discarded items into a new treasure.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Hadn't heard of this Marine Debris program, but what a tremendous idea and cause to at least try and make an effort to affect change!

  2. The little things we do can easily have huge effects when combined with thousands of people who do those same little things. That works on both sides. Those who toss it with reckless regard and those who try to clean up after others. These are excellent suggestions for how each of us can do a few small things throughout our days to make the world a better place for everyone.

  3. I spent 13 years living on Tybee Island, Georgia just 3 blocks from the beach. When you have the opportunity to walk a beach daily, you become more aware of the necessity for keeping the coastline debris free. We used to be among those who joined in for the 'coastal cleanup' days. It's a very worthy project.

    1. Elf, that is so cool that you joined up for the coastal cleanup. I participated in trash pick-up projects when I lived in Hawaii. Not only are they worthy projects, it's an awesome opportunity to meet new people in your community and get in a little exercise.

  4. What a fantastic public service reminder you bring to us, Coletta. On my daily walks on the beach with my dog Tidbit I was sickened by the trash left by visitors to our beautiful piece of paradise. It really ticked me off that this is a secluded spot, not a tourist spot, which means it is locals, my neighbors!, depositing their garbage here! Sickening sight. Naturally, I would lug their trash home to dispose of properly... Why couldn't they have done the same?

    Thank you ever so much for including my glass drinking straws article in your plea for coastal cleanup. Those plastic straws kill sea critters and there are hundreds of them left behind to do their damage, just in my little spot by the sea. No excuse for this lack of respect for our ocean life and seashores.


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