Beach Cleanup for Students
Everything you need to know to organise your own event, participate in a community event or get the most out of a beach cleanup you join can be found here.
Get ready to take action and make a difference!
A beach cleanup doesn’t need to take a huge chunk of your day and they don’t need to be organised events. Every piece of rubbish removed makes a difference. Even 5 minutes spent collecting rubbish on the beach or on the street on your way to work or school will have an impact.
How to Organise Your Own Beach Cleanup
Choose a date, time and location
For many people 60-90 minutes is enough for this physical activity, especially if it is a hot day.
Choose a beach preferably that is not cleaned daily by the government contractors. This will be classed as a non-gazetted beach. Check the Clean Shorelines event page to see when and where beach cleanups are already organised, and for more information.
If you are not familiar with the beach, arrange a site visit to check accessibility, safety and rubbish load.
Check the tides
Low tide is the best time to do a beach cleanup. Some beaches may not be accessible or will not have much beach area at high tide.
Check the Hong Kong Observatory for tide levels. Choose the closest location and check the planned times. Ideally tides should be decreasing and less than 1.5m at the start of your event.
Register your event & get prepared
Bring a first aid kit to address any minor cuts or scrapes, bites or stings. Ensure extra sunscreen and insect repellent are included.
Make a plan for the rubbish collection.
During your site visit, locate the nearest bins (rubbish and recycling). It is easier if you have different coloured bags to differentiate recycling from general waste. If it is an isolated beach without bins, make a plan before the event for where to put the rubbish awaiting collection by the government. Contact the hotline 1823 via email, app or phone to arrange pickup. Leave bags well above the high tide line.
Make it Fun!
Picking up rubbish is not everyone’s idea of fun but there are ways to make the event more enjoyable, interesting and meaningful. Competitions are a great way to spur interest too.
- Who will collect the most rubbish?
- What was the strangest beach find?
- Guess the amount of bottle caps on the beach?
Why not used the PFS Simple Datasheet? (see below) You can tally up amounts for all the single-use plastic that you collect and use this data to influence behaviour change in your school or in the community.
Advice & Safety Instructions
- Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes. No slippers or sandals
- Wear appropriate clothing for the weather. Jeans are generally NOT appropriate unless it is quite cool.
- Wear loose, comfortable layers so you can add and remove as appropriate
- Wear a hat and use sun-block
- Bring insect repellent
- Bring plenty of water in a reusable bottle. Drink before you are thirsty to prevent dehydration
- Take regular breaks in the shade if it’s hot
- Always use gloves to pick up things. Be aware of what you are touching
- Take care of your back! Bend your knees when lifting heavy objects, and if it’s too heavy, leave it
- If there is lightning, stop cleaning immediately and seek shelter
- Carefully remove broken glass, fishing hooks, syringes and other sharp objects. They should be placed somewhere safe for disposal (i.e. a box or bottle where they won’t be accidentally touched – we have a special container). Children shouldn’t handle the above items – inform an adult
- Re-use when you can. Use bags or boxes that you find on the beach to hold trash or bring bags from home to reuse.
- Bring along a first aid kit (not necessary for Plastic Free Seas organised events)
- Don’t throw out natural items (driftwood and sticks, shells, dead fish, seaweed, etc.)
- Don’t take shells from the beach. They could be future homes for other sea animals
- Don’t disturb the wildlife
- Don’t leave anything on the beach that wasn’t there before you arrived. Don’t add to the litter!
- Don’t touch oil drums. Let us know and we can have them removed.
- Be careful when emptying out bottles of liquid. If you are certain of the contents (water in a water bottle, orange liquid in a Fanta bottle) empty and recycle. If not, leave liquid inside and throw in the rubbish. Don’t empty out oil, chemicals or cleaning agents.
What to do with the recycling?
Recycling – Metal and Plastic
- Recycling will only be picked up from designated recycling bins.
- It is easier if items for recycling are collected in different colour bags than the rubbish. Plastic Free Seas uses grey bags for recycling and black bags for rubbish so they don’t get mixed up.
- Metal should be kept separate from plastic.
- Only good condition, clean plastic can be recycled from the beach. This is usually drink bottles and personal care products (shampoo bottles, etc.).
- Plastic bottles and aluminium cans can be deposited loose straight into nearby recycling bins for collection. If left on the beach they will not be collected for recycling. You can keep the lids and labels on.
- Clean Shorelines or the FEHD will be able to tell you where to leave your rubbish bags, either at the closest rubbish bins or on the beach well above the high tideline. Do not leave the bags on the beach without informing either Clean Shorelines or the government 1823 hotline.
Here is what you do for a data collection survey:
Depending on how much rubbish is on the beach and how much time you have, choose an area that you will be able to collect all of the rubbish from and record each not natural item you collect. (Do not start with too big an area as you can always go bigger if you have time.)
We suggest only counting pieces/items that are 5mm or greater. Anything smaller than that is considered to be microplastic and would be counted separately, and from a much smaller area.
The simple data sheet records the commonly used single-use items. Depending on what message you want to make, you may wish to add more items, i.e. if you are concerned with how the fishing industry impacts the ocean, add in ‘fishing items’ to your data sheet. Or you could add those small tissue packets to highlight how many are washing up on the beach.
The PFS data sheet only lists plastic which is 80% of what you will find on the beach. You can add in metal, paper, wooden items and glass if you want and be as specific as you wish.
There are 2 ways to record: collect each of the items on the list into separate piles, including an ‘other’ pile, and then count them once you’ve collected all of the rubbish in your area; or you can count as you collect, throwing each item away as you count it. We suggest that you use the tally method to count, with 4 ticks and a cross through to indicate 5. If you have piles of items, don’t forget to take photos.
For your project, collate the data in a chart or a graph to visually show what you have collected, along with pictures. The goal is to highlight what is being washed up and to encourage alternatives.
When you have done your beach cleanup don’t forget to share your photos and efforts
with Plastic Free Seas on Facebook and Instagram!
If you want to participate in a community beach cleanup organised by Plastic Free Seas & DB Green, the upcoming events are below.
Please bring a mask, and we encourage reusable ones.
We are pleased to be partnering with Hands on Hong Kong for these community beach cleanups. To join as a volunteer, please sign up at www.handsonhongkong.org
The Plastic Free Seas community beach cleanup program in Discovery Bay on Lantau Island enables individuals, families and school students the ability to make a positive difference to the beaches and sea.
Whether you want to participate because it is a fun, social and meaningful way to spend time with family and friends or you want a bit of purposeful exercise, or for students to help fulfil extracurricular requirements, we welcome your help and support.
Plastic Free Seas supplies washable and reusable cotton gloves (you are also welcome to bring your own), trash bags (for landfill and for recycling) and first aid.
Note that for volunteers who sign up ahead of time, if you are travelling to and from Central on the ferry, a discounted ferry ticket can be arranged. All information will be shared once you have successfully signed up with Hands on Hong Kong.
Note: Future dates may change – please recheck the website prior to the event.