ga('require', 'GTM-T6R6SGR'); Ocean Plastic | Million Waves Project | Start a Cleanup

Start a CleanUp

Did you know approximately 91% of plastic waste isn’t recycled and about 28-billion pounds of it ends up in our ocean every year? Since most plastics don’t biodegrade in any meaningful sense, all that plastic waste could exist for hundreds or even thousands of years. Even plastic straws you see on the street can end up in the ocean; rainwater can move the trash into storm drains that empty into streams, rivers, and other bodies of water.

This is extremely dangerous to marine life because many organisms can’t distinguish common plastic items from food. Animals who eat plastic often starve because they can’t digest it and it fills their stomachs, preventing them from eating real foods. If plastic pollution isn’t curbed, plastic pollution will outweigh fish by 2050.

 

The Million Waves Project gives a million thanks to the amazing volunteers who have dedicated their time to clean up their community and donate their collected plastic to us. Because of generous people like them, we will be able to make a real difference among children in need of prosthetic limbs, and the health of the ocean.

Do you know of a park or beach that could use a clean-up?

Want to become a member of the Million Waves Project team?

 

Choose one of the options below to learn how you can donate your time – and plastic – to a cause that matters!

One person with a few minutes in their day make a huge difference! It can be as simple as going out and cleaning up during your lunch-break or while walking your dog. Click here to learn about the small steps anyone can take to clean up their local area and how to donate collected plastic to the Million Waves Project.

ORGANIZE A 
CLEANUP EVENT

If you know of a place that could use some extra care and want to get a team involved, you can start your own cleanup event! This is a fun activity to plan with your school, business, friends, family, and other members of your community. Click here to learn more information on how to organize a cleanup event in your area with the Million Waves Project.

Do-It-Yourself Cleanups

Every person can do their part in reducing plastic pollution and it doesn’t take a lot of effort. Next time you’re on a walk, check the ground for any litter and throw it into the nearest garbage or recycling bin. If you’re unsure of where to dispose of an item, take a look at our Compost vs Recycling vs Garbage reference sheet. You can do cleanups for a few minutes everyday on your lunch break or while walking your dog. If you want to go the extra mile, bring a trash bag with you the next time you go to the park or beach. Here are suggestions on how to clean up safely with the Million Waves Project and how to donate your plastic afterwards.

  • Trash bags or something you can reuse to collect trash – this can be a bucket, a gallon milk jug with the top cut off, a box, or old grocery bags. To be more efficient, you can use a separate bag or container for items that can be recycled.

  • Download the Million Waves Project Compost vs Recycle vs Garbage (hyperlink to download) reference sheet to know what goes where

  • Gardening gloves (rather than single-use latex gloves) to protect hands from filth as well as prevent minor cuts and scrapes. Reusable gardening gloves are also more eco-friendly!

  • A small first-aid kit in case of minor cuts and scrapes

  • A scale to record how much trash you collected.

  • Be aware of safety hazards such as sharp objects, needles, or poison ivy

  • If you’re at the beach and you come across an entangled, injured, or possibly dead animal, do not attempt to help it without the proper qualifications – you could further injure the animal or even hurt yourself. Instead, report the situation by calling the nearest stranding center.

  • Separate recyclable items, any plastic you can send to the MWP, and garbage while cleaning to save yourself some time later on.

  • Take before and after pictures of your cleanup site, pictures of any interesting items you collected, or everything you’ve collected after you’ve finished. The Million Waves Project loves to see the individuals who have chosen to take action, so feel free to take pictures of yourself and/or anyone else who helped you clean.

What to do once you’re done cleaning

  • Record the weight of your entire collection. If you don’t have a scale, estimate the weight by using the standard conversion of 15 pounds per trash bag.

  • Million Waves Project can only convert polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic into 3D printing material, therefore this is the only plastic we accept to be sent to us. You can identify a PET plastic if it has the triangular recycle symbol with a “1” in the middle – they are usually clear, nonflexible, and made to hold liquids or foods. Common PET Plastic items include soda or water bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter containers, condiment or vegetable oil containers, etc. Separate these plastics from the other items you collected.

  • Clean each PET plastic item and take off any labels, caps, and cap rings the best you can before sending it to the Million Waves Project. If you can, cut up the plastic into pieces.

  • If you find any other recyclable item that cannot be sent to MWP, make sure it:

    • Is not a soiled or shredded cardboard, napkin, tissue, or paper

    • Is not a paper cup, fast-food container, or any other paper with wax or plastic coating

    • Is not Styrofoam

    • Has the triangular recycle symbol if it is a plastic
       

  • Is empty and clean before putting them into your recycling bin

  • Throw all other items into your garbage or a garbage nearby

 

Reporting back to Million Waves Project and sending plastic.

  • If you’re sending plastic to MWP, select “Yes” on the question “Will you be sending plastic to the Million Waves Project?”

  • Fill out the correct mailing information and weight of the box you will be sending to us

  • The Million Waves Project will send you an email shortly with a pre-paid shipping label

  • Place all PET plastic bottles and containers (clean, with labels and caps removed) into a cardboard box that you will ship out to the Million Waves Project.

  • Print the shipping label, tape it to the box, then drop it off at your local post office.

How to Organize a Cleanup Event

Before the Cleanup

Pick a Location

Choose a location that could be cleaned and is safe and accessible. The location can be any outdoor area including parks, beaches, waterways, neighborhoods, or trails. If the location is large, consider identifying smaller locations within the larger location.

 

Come up with a plan to dispose of the trash and recyclables you collect properly.

Visit the site in advance to determine:

  • Where to set up a check-in station

  • Where to leave bags of trash and recyclables

  • What areas volunteers will clean

Find out who owns the property in advance in order to obtain permission to set up an event. Most of the time, these places will be publicly-owned, and you can contact the local parks department to get permission. If the location is on privately-owned land, talk to the land owners and explain why you are organizing a clean-up in that area, along with the benefits of doing so.

Please fill out this form to register your event with the Million Waves Project. You can also include any questions you may have on this form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Encourage friends, family and colleagues to get involved and help organize the cleanup. Create a work event or a Facebook event so interested volunteers can RSVP and you can easily communicate with attendees. Spread the word through email, social media and e-invites. Volunteermatch.com is a great website to find volunteers. You can also print and post these event flyers.

Sample event description:

"Litter in the environment is an ongoing problem, but arguable one of the most pressing environmental challenges that we are faced with today is plastic pollution. Every year, about 28-billion pounds of plastic ends up in our ocean. Not only is this harmful to the environment, but it also threatens the safety of animals and the health of humans. That’s why I’m teaming up with the Million Waves Project to make sure plastic doesn’t get blown into the ocean or washed into drains with stormwater and I’d love for you to join me! I’m hosting a cleanup at [location] on [date and time], where we can all get together and work toward a common goal. You can also click here to learn more about the Million Waves Project. Hope to see you there!”

Meetup ahead of time with other dedicated volunteers to plan the event and assign roles.

Determine what kinds of supplies you will need, such as:

  • Work gloves for volunteers or ask volunteers bring a pair of gloves with them.

  • Water cooler with enough water to keep volunteers properly hydrated, especially in warm temperatures. Encourage volunteers to bring their own reusable water bottles.

  • First-aid kit for minor cuts and scrapes

  • Depending on weather, sunscreen and bug spray may be needed.

  • Trash bags or request your volunteers bring reusable containers, like buckets, milk jugs with the top cut off, or old grocery bags. You could also purchase biodegradable trash bags at a store or online.

  • Sign-in sheet to record the number of participants and enable you to contact them later with thanks and photos

  • Pens or pencils

  • Print a few of our Cleanup Print-offs for your volunteers to hold up in pictures and share on social media

  • Hand sanitizer or wipes are nice to have available for volunteers after the cleanup

  • A scale to weigh the trash you collect.

  • Review what to do in case of a health emergency (heat exhaustion or heatstroke, broken bone, etc.) and find out whether any of your volunteers have medical training or know basic first aid.

  • When visiting the site, look for natural and man-made safety hazards, such as rocky areas, highly variable tides, poisonous plants, high-speed roads, power lines, etc. If necessary, inform your volunteers that they may need to dress accordingly, such as wearing long pants or closed-toed shoes.

  • Plan ahead for handling sharp items, such as syringes or pieces of broken glass. We recommend disposing of these items in a wide-mouth container with a tight screw lid, such as an empty liquid laundry detergent bottle that you have clearly labeled.

  • Find out how to contact your local Fish and Wildlife Service office
    (https://www.fws.gov/offices/statelinks.html) in case you encounter any dead, entangled or injured wildlife.

    Do not attempt to help it without the proper qualifications – you could further injure the animal or even hurt yourself.

Transportation

Reduce the impact from transportation to the event with recommendations to volunteers.

  • Suggest that volunteers walk, bike, use public transport, or carpool to the event

Deposit Bins

Make sure to label bins with explanations of what items can go where. Tape signs to bins for “Compost,” “Recycling,” and “Garbage”. Check out our Compost vs Recycling vs Garbage reference form to print out so your volunteers know what goes where. If you plan to send plastic to the Million Waves Project, set aside a separate bin for plastic. You can sort the debris you collect and the waste generated during the event. This is a great educational moment for volunteers!

Be aware of what items your local recycling receptacle accepts and be sure to sort any items collected or used during the event to be recycled.

 

This may include plastic, metal, or glass items.

Sort out liquids so they don’t get sent to landfills

 

Find a disposal site near you:

 

https://www.liquidenviro.com/find-a-disposal-site/ 

Perhaps a volunteer has a compost bin at home or your municipality has a compost system in place. Collect organic materials such as food scrapes and paper in this bin to be used in the future (if organics are left in landfills, it can interact with waste and generate immediate combustion of methane, a greenhouse gas over 100x more damaging than carbon dioxide).

Any other items—hopefully none!

We can only convert polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic into 3D printing material, therefore this is the only plastic we accept to be sent to us.

 

You can identify a PET plastic if it has the triangular recycle symbol with a “1” in the middle – they are usually clear, nonflexible, and made to hold liquids or foods. Common PET Plastic items include soda or water bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter containers, condiment or vegetable oil containers, etc.

Check with your local municipality to see what can be done with batteries, electronics, tires and even paint.

 

During the Cleanup

Set Up

Arrive early to set up, post signs and label your trash drop-off site. At your check-in station, ensure you have pens, pencils and sign-in sheets ready for your volunteers.

What to Tell Volunteers

Encourage volunteers to take pictures of any interesting items or extremely filthy areas to create a visual of the environmental trash problem and influence long-term solutions.

Suggest that volunteers work in small teams, so they can share one trash bag or container. Or, each person can hold a different container for compost, recycling, and garbage rather than sorting and separating everything after the clean.

Instruct volunteers on what to do if they encounter any hazardous items, such as sharp objects or dead, entangled, or injured animals. Remind them of any local safety hazards, such as power lines or poison ivy.

Establish a point-person to stay at the check-in station in case of health emergencies or any late arrivals.

Tell volunteers what to do with the filled bags of trash and set a meeting time for the end of the cleanup so that everyone returns at the same time. Kids should always have adult supervision.

Document the Cleanup

Take before and after photos of the cleanup site as well as shots of your volunteers in action and a final group picture with all of the trash collected. Hold up some of our Cleanup Print-offs in your pictures!

If you have a scale with a hook, use it to weigh the trash bags. If you don’t have a scale, you can use a standard conversion of 15 pounds per trash bag to estimate the overall weight of your collected trash.

Ensure all trash is left in the designated drop-off location and that no materials are left behind as you leave the cleanup location.

After the Cleanup

Encourage your volunteers to share their pictures and results on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

Fill out this Cleanup Event Report form on to share your results with the Million Waves Project. Double check to ensure the date, number of participants, and weight are correct and with the correct units.

If you have any questions, or would like to share photos or highlights, feel free to reach out to the Million Waves Project at frances.millionwavesproject@gmail.com

Survey your cleanup team post-event. Encourage everyone to share experiences, stories and pictures about what they saw. This might encourage others to attend future events—and now is the time to start planning. Let them know about your next cleanup; get volunteers onboard while their enthusiasm is high!

Here is an example survey to give to your volunteers.

Say Thanks

Send out an email saying, “Look what we did!” Include how many friends, family and community members joined in and the weight of trash were collected. Celebrate your accomplishment as a cleanup organizers and ocean advocate. Thank you!

Sending Plastic to the Million Waves Project

Million Waves Project exclusively uses plastic cleaned off the land or ocean to created 3D printed prosthetic limbs for individuals in need. We greatly appreciate anyone who would like to donate plastic to us that they have collected during cleanups. However, we can only convert polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic into 3D printing material, therefore this is the only plastic we accept to be sent to us. You can identify a PET plastic if it has the triangular recycle symbol with a “1” in the middle – they are usually clear, nonflexible, and made to hold liquids or foods. Common PET Plastic items include soda or water bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter containers, condiment or vegetable oil containers, etc. Turning the plastic into 3D printing material is easier for the Million Waves Project if you can:

  • Clean all of the PET plastic before sending it to the Million Waves Project

  • Remove any labels, caps, and cap-rings off the bottles or containers.

  • Cut up the plastic into smaller pieces.

Then,

  • Place the PET plastic (clean with labels and caps removed) in a cardboard box to be sent out to the Million Waves Project

  • Fill out the Event Cleanup Report Form and select “Yes” on the question “Will you be sending plastic to the Million Waves Project”

  • Fill out the correct mailing information and weight of the box you will be sending to us

  • The Million Waves Project will send you an email shortly with a pre-paid shipping label

Print the shipping label, tape it to the box, then drop it off at your local post office.

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