An estimated 14 billion pounds of discarded plastic and garbage — from cigarette butts and water bottles to food wrappers and plastic bags — is dumped into the ocean each year, some of which washes onto Oregon’s otherwise pristine coastline, including Seaside.
Ocean trash isn’t just unsightly; it is lethal to wildlife like turtles and shorebirds. Microplastics (the tiniest form of plastic pollution) have also been found in bottled water and shellfish, as trash gets into local waterways. Chemicals found in cigarette butts can also leach into the water.
“Oregon’s beaches, trails and parks are our shared treasure,” says Jon Schmidt, a statewide cleanup organizer with SOLVE. “The wildlife we share the Coast with deserve a healthy and safe place to live. Locals and tourists alike can do their part by picking up trash they see on the ground and always packing out whatever you bring to the beach.”
Visitors are playing a huge role in helping to keep it clean. With Earth Day (April 22, 2021) right around the corner, you may be looking for ways to celebrate and swing the stewardship pendulum toward safer, cleaner, rubbish-free beaches. Here are two ways to start banking your beach-cleanup karma credit.
Oregon Spring Cleanup
The Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup is an annual event with roots stretching back to 1986. In honor of Earth Day, participants will descend on beaches across Oregon to collect and remove marine debris en masse. Cleanup volunteers will meet at locations along the Oregon Coast including the Seaside Promenade at 10 a.m. on April 17, 2021.
Treasure the Beach
Visitors to Seaside can pitch in during a beach visit any time of year. To quell the significant damage trash can cause on the marine environment, Seaside Aquarium, City of Seaside and SOLVE host Treasure the Beach, Seaside’s monthly cleanup effort. Cleanups are scheduled for 9 to 11 a.m. the first Saturday of every month. Participants meet in front of the Seashore Inn on the Promenade to collect supplies like bags and gloves, then comb the beach (while keeping social distance) picking up litter.
These efforts are having a big impact. In 2019 a total of 450 people participated, removing an estimated 1,865 pounds of trash from the beach. In 2020, despite COVID-19 challenges and weather cancellations, 253 people participated and removed 2,180 pounds of trash.
To participate in Treasure the Beach, simply show up on the day of the cleanup. For monthly Treasure the Beach event listings, check the Seaside events calendar. If you’re unable to make it to one of the organized beach cleanups but still want to contribute, visit the Seaside Aquarium gift shop to pick up complimentary bags and gloves.
Whenever you’re visiting, make sure to throw all food wrappers and other garbage in trash cans or pack it out with you. For more on how to be a steward at the Coast and beyond, read up on tips for how to visit responsibly.