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Delaware Coastal Cleanup

Delaware Coastal Cleanup

Trash on our beaches and in our waterways isn’t just unsightly – it’s also potentially dangerous to marine life and in some cases harmful to water quality. The annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup offers volunteers an opportunity to help make a difference for Delaware’s shoreline and waterways while joining an international effort to clean up the world’s waters.

For 2020, a Virtual Coastal Cleanup

Join a month-long virtual coastal cleanup campaign during September 2020. Pick up trash in your neighborhoods and nearby parks, on beaches and along waterways to help Keep DE Litter Free.

Due to concerns related to COVID-19, the 33rd annual Delaware Coastal Cleanup won’t be a one-day event with groups gathering to clean specific beaches and coastal areas across the state. Instead, during September, volunteers will clean up debris, like cigarette butts, food wrappers, abandoned sports equipment, tires and more, that often end up in the ocean and waterways.

They will document their findings and share photos in a new online volunteer survey.

Volunteers can recruit family from their household or friends in their pandemic pod to join in a group cleanup, but large groups are discouraged.

Students participating in the Delaware Coastal Cleanup who need confirmation of their volunteer hours are asked to fill out the volunteer survey and email to request a signed letter by return email confirming their participation.

Throughout September, find ideas about how to get involved in the 2020 Delaware Coastal Cleanup on Facebook and Twitter. Volunteers can post photos on for a chance to win a 2021 Delaware State Parks pass. Each photo post counts as an entry. Volunteers can post as often as they like throughout the month.

In 2019, nearly 2,000 volunteers collected 3.6 tons of trash and recyclables from 46 sites along more than 125 miles of Delaware’s waterways and coastline stretching from Wilmington to Fenwick Island.

Important reminders:

  • Wear gloves when picking up trash.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after cleanup activities.
  • Stay at least six feet from people from other households.
  • Wear face coverings when working in groups that include people outside your household, or when you are unable to social distance.
  • Avoid larger numbers of people by choosing early morning or evening, weekdays and cloudy days for cleanups.
  • Follow all local rules and regulations.

There are many ways to make a difference all year long:

  • Pick up trash near your home — streets, roadways, natural areas and open spaces — to keep your neighborhood clean.
  • Follow a carry-in/carry out plan and take all trash away with you after visiting outdoor public spaces, like Delaware State Parks, fishing and boating piers and ramps, wildlife areas, reserves, county or local parks.
  • Pack a disposable bag and rubber gloves when you take a walk or hike, go hunting or fishing, etc., to collect and carry out trash you find along the way.
  • Recycle what you can through in-home recycling or designated drop-off locations. Learn more at Delaware Recycles.

The Beach at Cape Henlopen

Beautifying the Bayshore

More than two dozen past Coastal Cleanup sites are part of Delaware’s Bayshore, which encompasses the central part of the state’s shoreline east of Route 1, from New Castle and Delaware City in southern New Castle County to the Lewes/Cape Henlopen area of Sussex County.

This unique region, with its quiet bay beaches, marshes, forests, wildlife areas and agricultural/residential lands, is the focus of the Delaware Bayshore Initiative, a landscape approach to conserving wildlife habitat, enhancing low-impact recreational opportunities and building strong communities through environmentally compatible economic development.

The Ocean Conservancy Connection

Volunteers at Fox PointDelaware’s Cleanup is also part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest annual clearing of trash from coastlines and lakes by volunteers. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world help each year to rid the environment of marine debris and collect detailed information on the types and quantities of refuse.

The types and quantities of trash collected are recorded on data cards and forwarded to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles the information for all of the cleanups held in the country and around the world. This information helps identify the source of the debris and focus efforts on eliminating or reducing it.

A recent marine debris report released by the Ocean Conservancy found that general-source marine debris – trash that comes from both ocean- and land-based activities – increased across the United States by more than five percent each year. (This report can be seen at

The Ocean Conservancy supplies trash bags, data cards and brochures on marine debris. DNREC organizes the event, recruiting volunteers, distributing supplies, ensuring trash removal and tabulating all the data collected.

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