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We did our first “official” beach clean-up in Belize that past December. Before this I’d say we were classified as “beach(trash)combers”, picking up the odd straw and plastic bottle we saw on our walks. However, for Belize, we travelled there with the intention of dedicating time to picking up any trash we came across on our hikes and beach walks. We even created a social media “clean-up crew” by partnering with other travellers to do a clean-up with us at the same time.
So now we’re sharing with you what we learned from this experience and how you can get started on your first beach clean-up! Hot tip: it can actually be a fun and rewarding way to spend a few hours on your vacation!
STEP ONE: PACK SOME COMPOSTABLE BAGS
- We packed several compostable bags in our carry-on. We promise they don’t take up much more room than a pair of socks!
- Really need that pair of socks? Ask your hotel for some trash/recycle bags instead.
STEP 2: PICK A DAY TO DO THE CLEAN-UP
- Schedule the clean-up into your holiday so it becomes part of the experience. A sunny or cloudy day is obviously preferable for picking up trash, but with that said, we did ours on a rainy day and it sure beat sitting in our hotel room on our phones.
STEP 3: STAY SAFE – WEAR GLOVES, SUNSCREEN, AND DRINK WATER
- Wear gloves if you think you might be touching unsanitary items. You can pack these or ask the hotel for some.
- Don’t forget to lather on some biodegradable reef-safe sunscreen
- Beach clean ups can be a lot of work and you may just work up a sweat. Keep a water bottle handy. We recommend the Life Factory glass bottle, or if you’re somewhere with limited clean drinking water, we recommend the Wayfarer or the Berkey Sport, which both have built in water filters.
STEP 4: LOOK OUT FOR “MICRO PLASTICS”
- Be on the lookout for smaller plastics and take the time to grab them – they are more easily ingested by small animals (like birds, crabs and insects) than a full plastic coca cola bottle.
STEP 5: PROPERLY DISPOSE OF WASTE
- Recycling is still limited in many countries but if you are cleaning up somewhere with recycling facilities, separate the recyclables from the garbage.
- Otherwise, place all waste in properly managed trash bins. Again – our hotel was very accommodating and let us put the trash into their bins.
BONUS STEP: SPREAD THE WORD
- Invite or encourage friends you’ve met at your hotel or random strangers on the beach to join in! You could even make it into a friendly competition, whoever gets the least amount of trash buys everyone a margarita (hold the straw!)
- Take a before and after photo and share on social media to encourage others to do one as well!
- If you post your trash on social media using #jointhecleanup we will re-post it on our IG stories!
If you’re looking for ideas to cut down on your own waste during your next trip, check out our zero waste travel tips here.
Have you done a beach or trail clean-up before on your vacation? Do you have any additional trash clean-up tips? Let us know in the comments below.