World’s Largest Trash Cleanup Event Returns to Orange County After Pandemic Hiatus 

  • Coastal Cleanup Day returns to beaches and waterways in Orange County on Sept. 18

  • This year’s theme is “Protect Your Happy Place” and in Spanish, “Protege el Lugar Que Te Hace Feliz”

  • Orange County Coastkeeper hosting month-long virtual event and coordinating more than 30 in-person cleanup events 


Coastal Cleanup Day is making its in-person comeback on Sept. 18 after a year hiatus. To observe this day, Orange County Coastkeeper is coordinating cleanup sites throughout the county, providing supplies and collecting data on behalf of the California Coastal Commission.

This is Coastkeeper’s sixth year hosting Coastal Cleanup Day. The volunteer beach cleanup is from 9 a.m. to noon and it includes ​​more than 30 sites throughout Orange County. Coastal Cleanup Day encourages people to collect trash and recyclable items discarded on the region’s coastline, waterways or near home.

To add more fun this year, Coastkeeper is also hosting a month-long virtual event where volunteers can collect trash on any date. Volunteers will be able to contribute to the data collected by Coastal Cleanup Day by using the Clean Swell® app and using the group name Coastkeeper Clean.

The Orange County cleanup is part of California Coastal Cleanup Day, organized by the California Coastal Commission with cleanup sites statewide, including more than 30 in Orange County.

This statewide event is part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, which attracts two million volunteers across the United States and 21 million people globally. It is regarded as the world’s largest trash cleanup event.

This year’s theme is “Protect Your Happy Place” – and in Spanish, “Protege el Lugar Que Te Hace Feliz” – to emphasize that in order for the coastline to continue to provide joy, it must be protected against trash and pollution.

Orange County beaches and waterways collect trash that travels from inland communities via the county’s rivers and storm drains. Beach cleanups stand as a last line of defense to prevent this debris from polluting the ocean and harming marine wildlife. By getting involved with your local beach, creek, or park cleanup you can prevent debris from entering our oceans.

Prior to the pandemic, more than 7,000 Orange County volunteers collected a record-breaking 70,485 pounds of trash and recyclable materials during the three-hour event. Some of the most obscure findings have included wigs, a flute, car parts and more.

Attendance is free and supplies will be provided to attendees if needed. However, Coastkeeper aspires to accomplish a low-waste event and asks that volunteers bring their own cleanup supplies including a bucket or reusable bag, gloves and reusable water bottle.

To participate in virtual cleanups or to find a location near you for Sept. 18, please visit Coastkeeper’s Coastal Cleanup Day page.

“At long last, we’re back! It was frustrating not being able to gather last year,” said Garry Brown, Orange County Coastkeeper’s president and founder. “It is crucial to collect trash and debris throughout our entire coastline because we are the last line of defense to prevent this debris from polluting the ocean and harming marine wildlife. It’s a global effort that doesn’t happen unless we commit to making a difference locally.”

“Trash and debris pile up at an alarming rate and if we don’t act it can harm our coastline and its wildlife,” said Suzanne Welsh, Orange County ​​Coastkeeper’s volunteer coordinator. “Removing trash from our communities at events like this is a last line of defense in protecting our oceans and the animals that rely on them.  While we wish Coastal Cleanup Day was every day, we’re so happy to be able to see everyone get together and make a difference.”


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ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Since 1999, Southern California residents have relied on Orange County Coastkeeper to be their leading voice in protecting clean water. The organization works collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. Coastkeeper achieves this through innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 236 different independent programs across 29 countries. For more information, visit or call 714-850-1965.