Great Ideas: Beach Cleanup

Okinawa Ocean Photo

(Image: Takakuku)

As the weekend approaches, I'm thinking of the beach and maybe going for a swim. The Pacific Ocean is a wonderful place to go on a steaming hot July day, on this side of it as well.

What is not so great is the trash. It was worse a decade ago, and I recently found out why. Local volunteers are making a huge effort to get people to join beach cleanup campaigns along Japan's long coastline. Japan Environmental Action Network (JEAN) was founded by three Japanese women who wanted to do something about the trash they found on their trips to the ocean, and held its first cleanup event in September 1990. JEAN also joined the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, making Japan the fifth nation to become part of this worldwide campaign for pollution prevention. Now they help local groups hold ocean cleanups at more than 150 sites across Japan, with more than 40,000 people volunteering for annual spring and autumn campaigns.

Their motto? "Think Globally, Clean Locally"

Japan Beach Cleanup Photo

"Our focus is to stop the trash inland, so our organization works on showing the trash found at the beach. We want to get people thinking about where trash comes from, and how to stop it," says JEAN spokeswoman Yoshiko Ohkura to Metropolis.

JEAN beach cleanup trash photo

JEAN has a novel idea to communicate the scope of the problem. They have created a special exhibition that can be rented, consisting of suitcases with selected items found on different beaches. One such suitcase displays trash found here in Japan, while another showcases Japanese trash that was found on Hawaiian and Midway Island beaches. In this way, they attempt to educate people that this is a global problem, where anything thrown away at home may make a long journey before it becomes someone else's trash.

National Geographics Video: Coastal Cleanup

Beach Cleanup Links:
Treehugger: Ocean Conservancy Reveals World's Only Snapshot Of Marine Trash
Treehugger: Those Burnt Out Smokin' Butts
Youtube Video: Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup

UPDATE: Long Beach 30-Minute Beach Cleanup (thanks!)

Written by Martin Frid at

Great Ideas: Beach Cleanup
(Image: Takakuku)