5+ BENEFITS OF CLEANING UP YOUR LOCAL BEACH & how to get started

Living just a few feet away from the ocean, we’ve developed something of a personal connection with the coast; I love how the molecular ions in the salty air and all characteristics of the ocean’s rhythms have this mystically astounding ability to ignite our souls with boundless curiosity and have the power to fill us up with an immeasurable sense of peace.

Therefore we are passionate about beach clean-ups and love putting in a bit of hard work to ensure sandy stretches of coast around Sligo stay clean of litter. Plastic bottles, food wrappers, and empty beer cans don’t just make Sligo shores look unseemly; they also significantly impact the environment and marine animals. Taking part in beach clean-ups and doing something for the greater good of a community and the environment has enriched our life’s and made us appreciate our backyard even more.

While the primary reason for creating Our Crossings travel blog was to help people to plan their adventures and to enrich our readers with visual storytelling, once in a while, we like to use social media as a platform to encourage people to care more about our oceans.

Heading down to your local beach and picking up rubbish might not be what you have in mind as we are heading into a long dark night of winter in the northern hemisphere and while navigating your way through the pandemic.

But taking the time to clean up beach litter has numerous benefits, from saving marine animals and preserving our natural treasures to creating a safer environment and getting some exercise.

While we had a great day out cleaning up the litter on the Coney Island in Sligo and making the video about it to take part in the competition organised by Clean Coasts, there was nothing fun about the dirty beaches and litter we gathered that day.

Seeing and collecting what seemed to be endless amounts of plastic bottles and bags on Sligo beaches prompted me to write about the small steps everyone can take to keep our beaches cleaner.

During our beach clean-ups in Sligo, we were finding all sorts of things. From single-used plastics to fishing gear.

5+ Benefits of Cleaning up Your Local Beach & How to Get Started

The oceans produce more than half of the oxygen on Earth and are home to approximately 70% of life on Earth. They also regulate our climate and weather patterns as well as absorbs carbon dioxide and that’s why the concept of a beach clean-up shouldn’t be that hard to grasp.

We are slowly losing our oceans and all the creatures that live in it due to the staggering amount of litter we dump in them. It also shouldn’t be difficult to imagine the connection between all the hurricanes, wildfires, tsunamis that have been sweeping across the world and the reason for it.

If you care about the oceans and wish to deeper understand the incredible complexity of the ocean’s ecosystem and our part in it, then I can highly recommend watching Mission Blue.

A few of the reasons to take part in a beach cleanup

Do you live on the coast and have developed something of a personal connection with your local beaches then why not get your hands dirty to make sure they stay looking clean for generations to come? Here are a few reasons why you should get involved:

– It keeps marine animals safe in the water

Remember that story where a dead sperm whale washed up on the shores in Indonesia and had over 1,000 pieces of plastic in it? Items found included 25 plastic bags, two flip-flops, 115 drinking cups and four plastic bottles.

Plastic products are causing a great deal of harm to the ocean; it doesn’t biodegrade that quickly and chemicals from them often are leeched into the water where they are digested by marine life.

Thousands of dolphins, whales, sea lions and porpoises die every year because of plastic pollution and many seabirds, turtles and fish can become entangled in debris and we are all accountable for that.

Healthy oceans are vital to sea creatures and that’s why it’s important to dispose of all your trash and recyclables responsibly.

Just think about it, if the animals in the ocean and digesting plastic and toxins, and you eat fish, what do you think ends up in your body?

It keeps the beaches clean

The ocean is essential for all life on Earth, including humans and one of the most obvious reasons to take part in a beach clean up – cleaning the beach improves the coastal and ocean ecosystem.  

I am well aware that it’s a Sisyphean task; the waves will soon bring a new load of trash to the shores and the result of our efforts will be lost. And I know that one beach clean up might not save the world, but leading by example will only encourage more people to join in.

We all have principles that we abide by. I am not able to naively walk along the shore admiring the view and pretending not to see the litter underneath my feet. I believe that by picking it up and discarding it properly, I am making a difference on a much larger scale.

You are giving back

We firmly believe that giving back to the community is important.

Doing something for the greater good of a community and the environment can make us feel happy and content. By cleaning up your local beaches you are making your community a happier and safer place. Volunteering your time also allows you to connect to your community, meet new people and boost your social skills.

If you live in Ireland, why not get involved in a two-minute beach clean? Take a photo of the litter you collect and post your snap on social media with the hashtags #2minutebeachclean and #cleancoasts.

Plastic doesn’t belong in the ocean. If you don’t feel like picking up someone else’s litter, at least dispose of yours properly.

Doing good is good for you

This nagging feeling that we should have more and achieve more is a very common, modern misfortune and often to achieve everything that we’ve dreamt of, we lose ourselves in a pile of never-ending tasks. Try not to live for the weekends and make sure you do something meaningful during the week too, like a beach clean.

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside – ”People who engage in kind acts become happier over time.”

Having done countless beach cleans over the last few years, I can easily say that doing good has enriched our sense of purpose in our lives. There are many meaningful ways how to enhance your life right now and if you are looking for one then be of service to others.

By giving your time and recourses you have the power to make this world a better place for everyone to be.


How we got involved with beach clean-ups

For me the challenge to live a life less wasteful started back in 2013 with watching the documentary film about Norm Hann, a paddleboarder who set out to travel 400 km along B.C. coast to thwart a proposed oil pipeline that possessed a treat to the rainforests and waterways of British Columbia.

I was amazed by the human desire to protect the environment, and I was inspired to change the way I live my life. The movie has made a huge impact on who I am as a person.

Shortly after watching tit, we sold the TV and started reading educational books. We worked hard to reduce waste and single-use plastic. I started working as a volunteer for the Irish Blue Cross and somewhere along the way I become vegetarian, quit smoking and drinking.

I didn’t buy clothes for a few years. I invested in a proper sewing box and took the time to sew buttons, darn holes and repair what we had in a cupboard. We are mindful of what we buy now and prefer to support local business like GROWN, who make ethical clothing and plant a tree for every t-shirt you buy.

By reducing waste and shopping wisely, we can help our oceans.

Things to organise before the beach clean

You don’t have to wait for someone to organise a beach clean event – you can take control and lead the way by popping down your local beach. Of course, you can also get in touch with local organisations who organise beach cleanup and meet likeminded people. A quick search online and you’ll be surprised how many people and places in your community could use your help.

There are a few things to organise before you go to the beach:

  • Start by identifying beaches in your area that need some cleaning
  • Make sure the beach is easily accessible with nearby parking
  • Check the tides and plan your beach clean for the beginning of the low tide
  • Check the weather forecast before you go
  • Bring compostable bags and a pair of gloves
  • Ask for friends, family and work colleagues to join you in
  • Come up with a plan to dispose of the trash you collect
  • Plan ahead for handling sharp objects such as broken glass
  • lookout for microplastics that are easily digested by animals
  • Take before and after photos of the beach and the trash you gathered and share it on social media to raise awareness
Plastic bottles, can rings and discarded cigarette butts have a significant contribution to the oceans and environment.

Don’t forget to stay safe

Beach clean-ups can be a lot of work. Make sure you bring reusable water bottles and keep yourself hydrated with drinking plenty of water. Make sure you wear gloves and sunscreen, too.

Wash your hands and gloves after you are done with a beach clean up.

Don’t forget to protect yourself and others during the pandemic. Avoid crowded beaches and practise social distancing.


Other ways how you can help to protect the oceans

Even if you don’t live on the coast, there are lots of ways how you can help the oceans. Start by making small adjustments. Change is hard but it will take you far

  • Avoid fast fashion. A textile dye is the second largest polluter of clean water, and fast fashion affects the environment by using harmful chemicals, exploits recourses and provides the very poor working condition. Think about where and when and who made it
  • Make safe, sustainable seafood choices and refuse to consume products containing shark fins
  • Choose plant-based plates and cutlery for picnics or family gathering on the beach
  • Educate yourself about marine life and oceans and educate yourself about how your plastic water bottle winds up in the ocean in the first place
  • Avoid purchasing items that cause harm and exploit marine life such as coral
  • Cut down on single-use plastic. You can do so by switching to reusable bottles, bringing your own shopping bag, saying no to plastic straws
  • Think before you flush!
  • Change your sunscreen
There are many single-use items that can easily be replaced with reusable or sustainable products.

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Now, over to you!

What steps do you take to do your part?

Let us know in the comments below

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

69 thoughts on “5+ BENEFITS OF CLEANING UP YOUR LOCAL BEACH & how to get started

    1. There are several ways that we can help protect this planet we call Earth, and most of them are super simple. Just by using reusable bags can make a big difference, because plastic grocery-type bags that get thrown out end up in landfills or in other parts of the environment. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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    1. Thanks so much. It took me nearly four decades to figure out who I am as a person and where I want to be in my life. I spend the first 20 years of my life living pretty recklessly, and only before my thirtieth birthday, I sat down to evaluate how I am spending my time. I love to challenge myself each day; I feel a greater sense of purpose when I am working toward something. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Today we woke up to the frozen world and crispy frost! Aiva 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wonderful article Aiva, well researched and as usual, so well written carrying a very, very important message. When I was in the Coast Guard Reserves (when living in the US) we organised many beach cleanings in Miami Beach and it involved outreach to schools with the participation of many students. It is a very worthwhile effort and quite needed. Great article with lovely photos as we’ve come to expect from you, Aiva. All the best, 😊,
    F

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Francisco. I bet you had an amazing time working for Coast Guard Reserves and I am glad to hear that the schools in Miami would get involved in beach cleanups. For most of us, the beach is an idyllic getaway; it’s an experience that appeals to our senses. But it’s not just us that benefit from hanging around beaches. A lot of marine animals also rely on the beach ecosystem, and that’s why it’s so important to keep them clean. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a good day. It was -3’C this morning. The winter is well and truly here. Aiva 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 🥶! We had 6 degrees and it was cold…that reminds me of my winters in New York City! Well you’ve written a post that is very important for all and especially for those who live in coastal areas with beaches! So I am very glad to hear of you and your family’s efforts. All the best Aiva and stay warm! 😊 Have a great week!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I wish people could be more responsible and take care of this world! It is so sad to see so much rubbish in the nature….
    I used to help cleaning our parks back home and yes, it is very grateful although sad at the same time…
    I always try to not overbuy or not waste! In our little we can do so much 😃
    Have a wonderful week Aiva!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wish people could be more responsible, too. We can’t deny that the environment around us is an essential part of human survival, and I believe that everyone can help to do their bit for the environment. It’s very important to keep our water and coastal areas clean. Water pollution makes it dirty and dangerous for humans and animals to drink. Thanks for stopping by and have a good Monday. Aiva 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Aiva! Awesome job:-) Every little effort counts. I’ve been meaning to do this around my neighbourhood (I’m not by the beach, but trash that gets into the canals can also end up in the sea). Thanks for inspiring me to just take action!! Take good care, f

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! There are many things each and every one of us can do for trash-free seas and participating in beach cleanups is one of those things. I know that beach clean-ups may seem like a useless task; after all, when the tides come in the next day, they bring new batches of plastic trash. But these events provide an opportunity for people to see the impact of plastic pollution along our coasts. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good stewardship for sure for you guys, for sure. I am never sure what prompts people to simply throw their trash about the environment. There are few beaches to clean here, but we tend to pick up trash when we see it lying about on our walks. As to steps to reduce our footprint, lots of home cooked meals with natural ingredients, limited packaging where possible, walk or cycle around our city rather than take a car, we drive small economical cars and have now for the past 16 years. If we need the car, we combine errands into one trip, so as to make the best use of the fuel. We set our heating lower than we would like and only turn lights on when we need them. If everyone did a little, it would matter a lot. Stay well Aiva. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Allan, how are you today? You are up very early today. Google tells me it’s only 7:28 am in Edmonton!

      I think that beach clean-ups are a fantastic learning opportunity for citizens. There’s a major difference between seeing photos of plastic pollution online and witnessing it on an actual beach. It makes one think about the impact of the non-biodegradable stuff that we are using and how it’s affecting the environment.

      Over the years, I’ve seen more than my share of trash littering the beaches. Plastic is no longer a necessary convenience but a deadly complication and it’s a pretty scary thought. I am glad to know you guys are doing your part, too. Nowadays it’s actually very challenging to go plastic-free as pretty much everything is wrapped up in plastic, especially in the supermarkets.

      Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely Monday. Hard to believe it’s only 18 days until Christmas. Take care. Aiva 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for doing your part to keep natural areas clean! No beach here, but I live by a lake and there are lots of people fishing especially on the weekends. When I walk around the lake I often bring a bag to collect trash. It’s so discouraging how many people don’t leave their fishing spot the way they found it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and I am glad to hear that you are collecting trash, too. From cooking to cleaning; I am always looking for ways to make my life greener. Because in addition to beach cleanups, it contributes towards a healthier planet. When it comes to beach cleanups – I believe that the only way to really make a difference is to stop plastics from entering the ocean in the first place by stemming the flow at its source. Therefore, a corporate tax should be imposed on all products which contain plastic. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They say that by 2050, the world’s oceans will have more plastic than fish. Imagine that! While many people wait for someone else to act to resolve the plastic problem, we can still do our part. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

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  6. What an awesome idea. We’ve had some issues with trash earlier in the year when conservation areas and provincial parks shut down. People would still use their area, but leave their trash behind. We started hiking with a garbage bag and just collect what we could and take it home with us to throw out. I still don’t understand how someone who clearly enjoys nature by visiting a park would then think it’s okay to just throw their coffee cup on the ground. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. It’s hard not to observe that plastic is everywhere, and that’s why whenever we go hiking or walking down the beach, we carry a bag so we can collect litter. While the governments should come out with long-term recycling policies and recycling targets for plastic scrap ( banning certain single-use plastic products for which there are alternatives is a sensible step, too), we can’t just sit and wait. The use of plastic bags is still a growing problem and all it takes is for people to replace with reusable grocery bags. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great tips, and very inspiring post! We can all do more to keep our oceans (and our planet in general) clean, and sometimes it only takes very few adjustements. What you did is really amazing, and I wish people would just stop littering and leaving things behind them when they go to the beach… how hard can it be?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Juliette. We love keeping Sligo beaches clean. With Christmas just around the corner, and inspired by your post about green December, I wanted to write a post about what everyone can do to keep our oceans and planet cleaner. Because, as we all know, Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the most wasteful. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Marie. While the world is currently facing the disruptions caused by Coronavirus pandemic in our everyday lives, cannot forget to protect our planet in every possible way. Have a good day and have a lovely festive season. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It really is mind-boggling just how much trash there is in the ocean, whether accidentally or intentionally so. Looks like you’re doing a great service to our planet, and you’re inspiring many to follow in your footsteps to do the same! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Rebecca. Our beaches and oceans are a natural wonder that should be protected at any cost and there are many things we can do to achieve it. I think that firstly everything comes down to education; it’s hard to clean up the ocean without knowing why and how it gets polluted in the first place. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely festive season. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Kerry, how are you doing? Are you excited for the upcoming festive season? We love taking part in beach cleanups. Even if you don’t live on the coast, there are many things each and every one of us can do. Single-use plastics are among the most wasteful, but they’re also the easiest change you can make to your lifestyle. Instead of buying single-use plastic water bottles in bulk, switch to reusable bottles you can fill up again and again. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Texas has a litter phrase “Don’t mess with Texas”. For the most part, people are diligent about mess and the forest wardens clear up regularly. Our water is safe but doesn’t taste that good without a filter so far too many people use bottled water. Festive greetings to you, K x

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I would love to live by the sea and if I did I would make this a daily chore. So much beauty out there in the sea and it is so quiet underwater. I love all the colors under the sea too. It is amazing. The children of the future should get to enjoy this to and when the animals suffer we all suffer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have all seen photos and read the worrying reports: plastic rubbish is piling up in our oceans and littering our beaches. Animals get caught in ghost nets, and microplastics enter our food chain. But it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why we love doing beach cleanups. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a good day, Cheri 🙂 Aiva xxx

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  10. Great job&post Aiva! It is a great way to bring some inspiration for those less “inspired” who throw away randomly. We also pick some rubbish up from our trails if we have an extra bag with us. If everyone will do just a little, we can all achieve a lot!
    Have a lovely day! Ready for Christmas?❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Christie. With retailers still wrapping everything in plastic, we end up still throwing away our trash, too and try not to think about where it’s going. All too well knowing that it will end up at landfills or floating in the ocean destroying the environment and killing animals. And I agree with you, if everyone will do just a little, we can achieve a lot!

      Yes, we are ready for Christmas! This year, we took the time to make all the festive decorations ourselves; there is something so lovely about knowing that home is looking festive with love and unique personality. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a lovely festive season. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! I believe that the key to fighting marine litter is to stop it at the source – using less plastic, recycling more, but cleaning the beaches matters as well. Together, we can make a big difference. Have a good day. Aiva 🙂

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    1. The beaches around Sligo are fairly clean during the winter season because there are very few people around. Summertime is the worst, as the crowds of visitors increase, so does the litter that is left behind. Trash left on the beach is not just unattractive, it can make its way into the water and create safety hazards for marine animals. And that’s why we are happy to do our part! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

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    1. The beaches are some of our earth’s prized possessions, and that’s why we need to look after them! I find that a beach cleanup is a wonderful way to do good while also enjoying the beauty of the ocean. Thanks for stopping by, Pam and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

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  11. All good advice, Aiva. We do pick up litter and try to limit use of plastics. There’s a long way to go still because so much food is sold in containers that have to be disposed of, but if we are all mindful it can only help. Thanks for caring 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Jo. It’s no secret that our oceans are suffocating under the weight of plastic pollution. Thankfully there are many ways, most of them simple, we can all do to make a difference. Thanks for reading and have a lovely day. Aiva 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Katie! Who doesn’t love going to the beach? These areas of natural beauty, where land meets the sea, provide hours of fun for people, but it’s painful to see the amount of trash left behind after a busy Sunday at the beach. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Caroline. While it’s important for all of us as individuals to take action, we cannot exempt local businesses and global corporations from doing their part, too. I hope you gonna watch the documentary, It’s an inspiring one. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. Aiva 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much. We are at the point where we need to think long and hard on how to help our oceans. Saving the oceans can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task, but if we all pitch in, we can make a big difference. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Aiva,
    Thank you for taking action and sharing your ideas with your readers. I believe that every action matters. Thank you for jogging my mind, I wanted to purchase a new laundry detergent that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle. I wanted to do this in December and got distracted. TruEarth – no plastic, no liquid.
    Keep up the inspiration and information.
    Wishing you wellness from Oregon.
    Ali

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Ali! Thanks for stopping by and sorry for the late reply. Heading outdoors to explore to connect and to feel more restored is every human right but with that right comes certain responsibilities and looking after and protecting the environment is one of them. Yes, I know, picking up trash while on a beach holiday may not sound glamorous or what you had in mind, but it should be an important issue for every traveller and local person alike. Of course, one small act might not change anything overnight but cultivating awareness and spending 10 minutes tidying sand around your beach towel can help you educate other people because not everyone is aware of the gigantic ecological footprint we are leaving on the planet. Cheers and have a good day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

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    1. Thanks so much 🙂 We are fortunate to live just a few feet away from the ocean and get to continue with our weekly #2minutebeachclean even while being in the lockdown again. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

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  13. I love this post! 💚💚💚💚! (And it’s still related to adventures and travel in my opinion.😊) Thank you for sharing! And I love the #2minutebeachclean idea! So often people say they “don’t have time.” But 2 minutes? Everyone has time for 2 minutes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. We all know that the fate of our oceans and reefs are in jeopardy and there a good few things everyone could incorporate in their daily lives to protect them like reducing plastic consumption. Just by bringing your own cloth tote, carrying a reusable water bottle and storing food in nondisposable containers, can make a difference. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

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