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International Coastal Cleanup Day is celebrated in September each year by 90 countries worldwide, including the United States. All along our coastlines, volunteers gather to remove trash and debris that litters our beaches and enter our oceans. For more information, check the Ocean Conservancy site, www.oceanconservancy.org.

Ocean Cleanup Activities
This lesson is about ocean conservation—keeping our oceans clean. The International Coastal Cleanup Day has been going strong for over 21 years now. In 2004, over 50,000 people in California alone came out for International Coastal Cleanup. The volunteers covered almost 2000 miles of shoreline and removed 958,488 pounds of trash!

Trash is a problem on our beaches. (photo EPA)

Why do we need to clean up our coastlines? People litter the beaches with paper, plastic, cans, bottles, and more. This trash can hurt both people and animals when it ends up in the ocean. Getting rid of trash helps to keep animals and people safe, and helps to keep our ocean waters clean. According to the national Ocean Conservancy, cleaning up also helps to show people the kind of litter that is ending up on our coastlines so we can work together to prevent this.

How does litter hurt sea animals? Every year, millions of birds, fish, sea turtles, and marine mammals like seals and dolphins eat or get tangled in floating litter. Sea turtles, for example, eat pieces of plastic wrap, thinking they are jellyfish. Because they cannot digest this plastic, they often die. Birds and seals get tangled in plastic six-pack holders. Some kinds of plastic also contain toxic chemicals that can make animals sick. Both people and animals can be hurt by cans and broken glass.

What can you do to help? If you live near a coastline, you and your family can sign up to help with the Coastal Cleanup Day. But this is just one day. What can you do the rest of the year? The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) lists the 3R's for cleaning up our world: RECYCLE, REUSE, and REDUCE. Most cans, bottles, and plastic containers can now be recycled. You can help at home by sorting these things from the rest of the trash and taking them to recycling centers. You can learn to reuse things rather than throwing them away. Reuse plastic grocery bags in your wastebaskets. You can reduce trash by helping your mom to shop for things with less wrapping on them. For instance, don’t buy cheese0 slices that are each wrapped separately. You just end up throwing away the extra wrappers.  

Print the two activity pages. In the beach activity, circle the items that don't belong in the ocean, then color the picture and put it up as a reminder. In the 3Rs activity, sort the items on the list according to what you can do with them: recycle, reuse, or reduce. Include ideas for new ways to use these things. To get you started, here's an idea for back to school:

Redecorate your old binders and notebooks with Con-Tact paper. You can find all kinds of colors and designs at craft stores. Or add your own photos or pictures from magazines and cover them with clear Con-Tact paper.

Beach Cleanup Activities
The 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Learn how you can reduce ocean pollution.
Ocean Cleanup
ocean cleanup
See if you can find the things that don't belong in the ocean

Cleaner Oceans Poster

clean oceans
This is a nice downloadable poster on ocean pollution and cleanup (949K PDF file)
ocean debris

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