Coastkeeper offers volunteer opportunities across three types of cleanups:

  • Community Cleanups – Saturday mornings two to four times per month. Community cleanups are family-friendly and open to the public. Check out the schedule here.
  • Sponsored Cleanups – Private cleanup events organized in partnership with local companies and organizations looking to give back to the community by supporting the cleanup program and participating in an environmentally minded team-building experience.
  • Cleanup in a Box kits – A do-it-yourself option for small groups looking to take the lead and organize their own cleanup. A great option for groups of friends, classmates, scouting groups, social clubs, and more.

Note: We are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year with the Coastkeeper Cleanup Challenge! To help us celebrate, don’t forget to tag us in your pics @sdcoastkeeper and use the hashtag #CoastkeeperCleanupChallenge!

You can read more about each type of cleanup by clicking through the tabs below.

For all cleanups, please be prepared to:

  • Dress comfortably, use sun protection, and bring water in a reusable bottle (no single-use water bottles, please!).
  • Fill out a waiver before or at the start of the cleanup event.
  • Contribute to our ongoing, multi-year marine debris database by filling out a data sheet as you participate in the cleanup. Data collection is an important component of all our cleanups, and allows volunteers to directly contribute to our understanding of the quantities, types, and origins of trash on our beaches, which in turn supports local advocacy efforts to reduce debris in our rivers, streams, and ocean. Check out an analysis of last year’s cleanup results here.

Our community cleanup program is run in partnership with our friends at Surfrider Foundation San Diego Chapter. Together, we schedule between two and four public cleanups per month, in locations up and down the coast. These cleanups are free and open to the public, and provide a great way for people to have an immediate, positive impact on our coastal environment. If you’d like to participate, start by checking out the 2020 cleanup schedule here.

On the day of the cleanup, simply:

  • Look for the Coastkeeper or Surfrider popup tent on or adjacent to the beach when you arrive.
  • Sign or turn in a waiver. Anyone under 18 needs a guardian signature on their waiver in order to participate.
  • Borrow cleanup supplies (or better yet, bring reusable gloves and a bucket of your own!) and pick up a datasheet.
  • Hit the beach to pick up man-made debris (driftwood, dried seaweed, feathers, etc. stay on the beach), filling out a data sheet as you go.
  • Drop off your bag of trash and filled-out datasheet at the registration table when you are finished.
  • Pick up a volunteer verification slip from the cleanup host, or ask the host to sign any documentation you brought with you, as needed.

A note on groups: Unless you plan to bring a group of over 20 people to a cleanup, you don’t need to register in advance. Simply show up, sign in, and get started. If you do have a large group, please email to let us know. That way we can check to make sure the cleanup can accommodate you. Not every cleanup can support a large group in addition to the usual number of attendees, so it’s important to plan in advance, communicate with us early, and be flexible with your dates if you want to attend as a group.

Weather cancellation policy: For the most part, cleanups will be held rain or shine. If there’s some drizzle in the forecast, chances are we are still holding the cleanup. If there’s a rare downpour, we may cancel. Check our social media channels for cancellation notices.

A note on partnership: We love partnering with companies and groups that care about our coast. If your company or group would like to support our community cleanups, we’d love to hear from you. We are happy to consider partnership proposals on a case-by-case basis. Please note that community beach cleanups are permitted special events that take a lot of advance planning, so it’s important that you communicate with Coastkeeper before promoting a community cleanup, recruiting a large number of additional participants, marketing the event with your branding, or soliciting partnerships on our behalf.

Coastkeeper’s sponsored cleanup program is designed to meet the needs of companies and groups looking to participate in a team-building activity while giving back to their local community and environment. In exchange for a donation that helps support our community cleanup program, we will work with you to create, plan, and host a private cleanup event for your employees, coworkers, or members.

By partnering with Coastkeeper for a sponsored cleanup, your group will not only have an immediate, positive impact on the environment through your custom sponsored cleanup event, but you will also be supporting Coastkeeper’s community cleanup program as a whole. The community cleanup program engages around 8,000 volunteers a year to remove upwards of 10,000 pounds of trash from San Diego beaches annually. Your participation means you will directly benefit the ecological community in which you operate. Sponsored cleanups are a great way to show that your company cares about our community, and is participating hands-on in caretaking our environment.

To get a full rundown of what is included in a sponsored cleanup, and to determine if the program is a good fit for your group, please read through our sponsored beach cleanup packet. When you are ready to get started, reach out to to begin the planning process. Please note that it generally takes at least six weeks to plan and acquire permits for a cleanup event, so advance notice is strongly recommended.

If you can’t make one of our twice-monthly public cleanups but are still committed to helping protect San Diego’s ocean and watersheds, we recommend Coastkeeper’s do-it-yourself option: Cleanup in a Box. Through this program, we let community members borrow our cleanup supplies to conduct small-scale cleanups of their own. Coastkeeper will pack a cleanup kit for your group of up to 25 people, complete with all the necessary supplies and instructions to organize a cleanup in your own community, on the sole condition that you collect data from your cleanup and return the data to us when you return the supplies. Data sheets are provided.

This is a great option for nonprofits, community centers, churches, family reunions, university service organizations and other small groups seeking a way to give back to their communities through Earth-friendly team-building exercises.

While our beaches are beautiful, consider heading to an inland river or bay location, we’re happy to provide suggestions!

Check out our Cleanup in a Box Manual for more information.

If you would like to use a Cleanup in a Box kit to support your DIY cleanup efforts, please carefully read the following, and then fill out the form below to submit a kit reservation request:

  • Requests will be accommodated on a first-come-first-served basis and are subject to availability of supplies. We are unable to provide kits on dates when we already have cleanups scheduled.
  • Kits are designed for groups of 25 people or fewer. If your group size is larger than that, we recommend you check out our sponsored cleanup option.
  • We are unable to accept cleanup kit reservation requests further than three months out from your preferred cleanup date. If you submit a request further ahead than three months, you will be asked to resubmit your reservation request when you date is no more than three months out. Additionally, at least two weeks of advance notice is recommended, as it is difficult for us to accommodate last-minute requests.
  • Please be as detailed as possible when filling out your form. Once you have submitted the form, you can expect a reply from our beach cleanup representative within three to five business days.
  • While we try to include trash grabbers in every kit so that folks with difficulty bending over are able to participate in cleanup activities, the number of grabbers is limited to what is available, and we will not always be able to provide one for every participant. Sharing is encouraged!
  • Please note that because this is an unsupervised, do-it-yourself volunteer option, San Diego Coastkeeper is not able to offer community service verification forms for groups using Cleanup in a Box. If you need verified volunteer hours, please attend one of our hosted public beach cleanups, where Coastkeeper staff is in attendance.