Beach Clean-up Take Away for Kids

  • encourages children to spend time outdoors to engage in physical activity and reduce stress
  • develops a connection and appreciation for their community and nature as well as compassion for aquatic life
  • provides a hands-on learning environmental education experience that complements their classroom education. Children learn about the impact of litter on marine life and coastal ecosystems through direct observation, interaction and teamwork
  • fosters a sense of hopefulness, empowerment and responsibility for the planet from a young age that inspires future climate leaders
How to Host a Kids’ Beach Clean-up Party: Helping the Planet & Having Fun Doing It!
by Andrea Koehle Jones, Founder, The ChariTree Foundation. EcoParent Magazine (March 2023)

Organizing a beach cleanup for kids is a fun environmental education activity to help protect marine ecosystems and keep our beaches clean. Family cleanups are a great weekend or summer activity and here’s a step-by-step guide to organizing a larger one at your local beach by the ocean, lake or river.

Looking for ocean debris on beach in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest where ocean and land are inextricably connected. The Great Bear Rainforest is a global treasure that covers 6.4 million hectares on British Columbia’s north and central coast – it is part of the largest coastal temperate rainforest on earth. (Photo by Andrea Koehle Jones, The ChariTree Foundation)
Litter found during a Beach Cleanup⁠. Photo by mzajac / CanvaPro.
  1. Plan Your Event:
    • Decide on a date and time for the cleanup. Consider factors like weather, tides, safety and accessibility.
    • Choose a specific location for the cleanup. Research beaches in your area that are in need of cleaning and obtain any necessary permits or permissions.
  2. Recruit Volunteers:
    • Invite friends, family, your school class or community group.
    • Provide clear instructions on how volunteers can sign up or get involved.
  3. Gather Supplies:
    • Organize beach cleanup supplies including buckets, trash bags, gloves, litter pickers, and hand sanitizer.
  4. Safety Prep:
    • Prioritize safety by providing safety guidelines and instructions to volunteers before the cleanup.
    • Ensure that volunteers wear appropriate clothing, including boots, hats, and sunscreen. Kids can also wear lifejackets.
    • Have a lifeguard and first aid kit on hand in case of minor injuries.
  5. Coordinate Logistics:
    • Encourage walking, cycling or carpooling to the cleanup and ask participants to bring their own water recyclable bottles. You can provide beach themed snacks in recyclable containers.
    • Communicate a designated meeting place and time and provide clear directions to the cleanup site.
    • Consider setting up waste sorting and craft stations to separate recyclables from non-recyclables and provide children opportunities to make crafts from some of their collected debris.
  6. Environmental Education Elements:
    • Incorporate an educational aspect into the cleanup by providing information about the impact of marine debris on the environment.
    • Provide educational materials or presentations about ways to reduce plastic consumption and promote sustainability.
    • Offer beach cleanup games, scavenger hunts and crafts for kids.
  7. On the Day of the Cleanup:
    • On the day of the cleanup, arrive early to set up and welcome children, parents and volunteers.
    • Assign specific areas of the beach to groups of volunteers to ensure thorough coverage.
    • Supervise the cleanup and provide guidance and support to children and volunteers as needed.
  8. Document and Celebrate:
    • Take photos and videos throughout the cleanup to document the event and share on social media to raise awareness.
    • After the cleanup, gather volunteers for a debriefing session to celebrate accomplishments and discuss ways to continue supporting beach conservation efforts.
  9. After the Cleanup:
    • Follow local regulations to properly dispose of collected waste and recyclables.
    • Thank children, parents and volunteers and encourage them to stay involved in future cleanup efforts.
    • Make a donation—on behalf of the kids who participated—to an environmental organization that helps clean up oceans and waterways.

FROM LITTLE THINGS, BIG THINGS GROW: Remember, no matter how big or small, every clean-up helps. By organizing a beach cleanup, you’re making a positive impact on the environment and inspiring others to do the same.

For more beach clean-up ideas including beach party invitations, eco-friendly supplies and decorations, beach party snacks and more check out How to Host a Kids’ Beach Clean-up Party: Helping the Planet & Having Fun Doing It!

Beach Cleanup Crafts: Make crafts and sculptures (like these ‘Star Catchers” made by kids on Bowen Island from coffee pods) with debris kids collect during their cleanup. It’s a fun way to inspire creativity and make a keepsake for a their day helping the world. Also Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets children on Bowen Island after launching expanded ocean protections in July 2022. (Photos by Andrea Koehle Jones, The ChariTree Foundation)