There are 171 trillion plastics in our oceans: Where do we go from here?

After decades of big corporations producing trillions of oil-based plastics, the negative consequences of pollution caused by these products are startling and undeniable. It is now one of the most pressing environmental and public health hazards of modern times.

With more than 418 million tons of plastic thought to be produced annually, our oceans, rivers, food, land, and air are overrun with pollution. That said, it is time to accelerate solutions to combat plastic pollution by activating governments, citizens, and businesses to do their part to invest in our planet- everyone accounted for, everyone accountable.

You have a part to play and can begin by simply hosting or partaking in a cleanup in your community. EARTHDAY.ORG (EDO), the global organizer of Earth Day, has a campaign known as The Great Global Cleanup focused on ridding the environment of plastic waste for good.

How to organize an impactful cleanup?

Cleanups are an effective way to amplify your impact in protecting our planet. If you are unsure of how to start, no worries! Here are the seven keys to hosting a successful cleanup:

Organize a planning group

Whether you want to be an environmental rockstar, make sure to rally your troops and decide who is going to take the lead in organizing the cleanup. Once you’ve picked a cleanup captain, have them assign tasks and designate roles to ensure a smooth sailing event.

Choose an ideal date, site, and time

Parks, rivers, and other public community sites are great options. And, depending on where you are, choosing a time allowing for plenty of daylight and temperate conditions is essential.

Gather volunteers

Use social media and word of mouth to spread awareness about your community cleanup. Another great way to rally volunteers is by registering your cleanup on EARTHDAY.ORG’s Great Global Cleanup Map. This will ultimately connect you with a global network of volunteers who are just as passionate as you are about helping heal our environment.

Line up cleanup supplies and arrange for waste disposal

Asking for donations of trash bags, refreshments and equipment is a great way to keep your cleanup well supplied and financially efficient. In fact, local hardware stores are often eager to donate such resources to you as appreciation for the great work you’re doing.

Make sure to also coordinate with local waste management for disposal after your cleanup and don’t forget to show appreciation by giving credit to contributors for their donations.

Start your cleanup

As you get closer to the date, check the weather so you can dress accordingly and make sure to send a text the night before your cleanup to remind the group! Take pictures before and after your collection to share on social media. You can also invite local media outlets to cover your event to help spread awareness about the great work you’re doing.

Dispose of waste

Sort your waste properly into trash, recyclables, and hazardous waste. Once you have done this, take it to the location you have chosen to properly discard of the waste.

Pat each other on the back for a job well done!

Make sure to say thank you to everyone who helped make your cleanup a success. Post your event photos on social media using the hashtags #GreatGlobalCleanup, #TrashTag, and #Plogging and share them with local newspapers and magazine.

Real change needs to be made and you have the power to make a difference. For information about how to sign up to be a global partner, please visit the website.

EARTHDAY.ORG is a global movement with a mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, EARTHDAY.ORG is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 150,000 partners in over 192 countries to drive positive action for our planet.