How to participate in ocean cleanup efforts while sailing
How to participate in ocean cleanup efforts while sailing

Discover how sailors can participate in ocean cleanup efforts and help protect the health of our oceans for future generations.

How to Participate in Ocean Cleanup Efforts While Sailing

As sailors, we have a unique opportunity to witness the beauty and majesty of the world’s oceans. However, we also have a responsibility to protect and preserve these incredible ecosystems for future generations. One of the most pressing issues facing our oceans today is the accumulation of plastic waste and other debris, which can have devastating effects on marine life and the overall health of the ocean.

In this article, we will explore the issue of ocean pollution, discuss the importance of ocean cleanup efforts, and provide practical tips for sailors who want to participate in these efforts while enjoying their sailing adventures.

Understanding the Scope of Ocean Pollution

Before we dive into the ways you can help with ocean cleanup efforts, it’s important to understand the scope of the problem. According to the United Nations, more than 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year. This plastic waste can take hundreds of years to break down, and as it does, it releases harmful chemicals and microplastics that can be ingested by marine life and make their way up the food chain.

In addition to plastic waste, other types of debris such as abandoned fishing nets, also known as “ghost nets,” can entangle and kill marine life, including whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. These nets can also damage coral reefs and other sensitive marine habitats.

The Importance of Ocean Cleanup Efforts

Ocean cleanup efforts are crucial for the health of our oceans and the marine life that depends on them. By removing plastic waste and other debris from the ocean, we can help prevent the ingestion of harmful materials by marine life, reduce the risk of entanglement, and protect sensitive marine habitats.

In addition to the direct benefits to marine life, ocean cleanup efforts can also have positive impacts on human health and the economy. For example, cleaner oceans can lead to healthier fish populations, which can support sustainable fishing industries and provide a valuable source of protein for millions of people around the world.

How Sailors Can Participate in Ocean Cleanup Efforts

As sailors, we have a unique opportunity to contribute to ocean cleanup efforts while enjoying our time on the water. Here are some practical tips for incorporating ocean cleanup activities into your sailing adventures:

1. Practice Leave No Trace Principles

One of the simplest ways to participate in ocean cleanup efforts is to ensure that you are not contributing to the problem. This means practicing Leave No Trace principles while sailing, which include:

  • Properly disposing of all waste, including food scraps, trash, and human waste
  • Minimizing the use of single-use plastics on board, such as plastic bags, bottles, and utensils
  • Using environmentally friendly cleaning products and avoiding the use of harmful chemicals that can contaminate the water

By following these principles, you can help prevent additional waste from entering the ocean and contribute to a cleaner, healthier marine environment.

2. Participate in Beach Cleanups

If your sailing adventures take you to remote beaches and shorelines, consider taking some time to participate in a beach cleanup. This can be as simple as picking up trash and debris that you find while exploring the shore, or you can join organized beach cleanup events in the areas you visit.

Beach cleanups not only help remove waste from the ocean but also raise awareness about the issue of ocean pollution and the importance of proper waste disposal.

3. Conduct On-the-Water Cleanups

While sailing, keep an eye out for floating debris and be prepared to collect it when it is safe to do so. Equip your boat with a long-handled net or a grappling hook to make it easier to retrieve debris from the water. Be sure to store the collected waste securely on board until you can dispose of it properly on land.

In addition to collecting debris, you can also participate in citizen science projects that track and document marine debris. These projects can help researchers better understand the sources and impacts of ocean pollution and inform future cleanup efforts.

4. Support Organizations Dedicated to Ocean Cleanup

There are many organizations dedicated to ocean cleanup efforts, and supporting these organizations can be an effective way to contribute to the cause. This can include making financial donations, volunteering your time, or spreading awareness about their work.

Some organizations to consider supporting include:

  • The Ocean Cleanup: This organization is developing advanced technologies to remove plastic waste from the ocean, including a passive cleanup system that uses natural ocean currents to collect debris.
  • 5 Gyres: This organization conducts research on plastic pollution in the ocean and advocates for policies to reduce plastic waste.
  • Surfrider Foundation: This organization focuses on the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, beaches, and waves, and organizes beach cleanups and other conservation efforts.

5. Advocate for Policies to Reduce Ocean Pollution

Finally, as sailors and ocean enthusiasts, we can use our voices to advocate for policies that reduce ocean pollution and support cleanup efforts. This can include supporting bans on single-use plastics, advocating for improved waste management systems, and promoting the use of sustainable materials in the boating industry.

By raising awareness about the issue of ocean pollution and advocating for change, we can help create a cleaner, healthier marine environment for future generations to enjoy.


As sailors, we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to participate in ocean cleanup efforts and protect the health of our oceans. By practicing Leave No Trace principles, participating in beach and on-the-water cleanups, supporting organizations dedicated to ocean cleanup, and advocating for policies to reduce ocean pollution, we can make a meaningful difference in the fight against ocean pollution and ensure that our sailing adventures are both enjoyable and environmentally responsible.