“Who wants to come with us to pick up beach garbage?” My tone sparkles with excitement as if suggesting we will be heading off to an amusement park.

Although not exactly the offer children might be hoping for at a family vacation, the response is met with surprising enthusiasm.  Here in northern Baja, Mexico even the kids have noticed the beach trash finding its home on the ocean shore.

Beach garbage

One hour of effort in beach garbage pick up

The beach garbage treasure hunt begins. Who will find the most unusual piece of garbage on the beach? I feel I have an early win in hand with a high heeled sun-bleached running shoe.

Not long after one of the wee beach garbage collectors drags a battered chair almost as large as she is down the rocky shore. Perhaps not so surprising a find but points for determination in beach clean up to her.

beach clean up

According to Ocean Conservancy, each year more than 8 million metric tons of garbage finds its way to the earth’s oceans. Scientists estimate that at this current rate in one decade there could be a pound of plastic for every three pounds of fish in the ocean.

Trash found on the shore and in the sea can be mistaken as food by wildlife rather than the garbage it is. Plastics in the ocean absorb pollutants making ingestion by animals even more dangerous. Whether becoming entangled or poisoned by eating the debris, the consequences can be lethal.

What can you you do as a traveler to help decrease the beach garbage issue?

Every piece of trash removed from the ocean or beach is part of the solution. Rather than feeling the issue is of Mount Everest proportions, every piece of garbage we all pick up is one less turtle, fish, bird or whale in danger from it.

Join a group clean up in your community. The International Coastal Clean Up is the largest volunteer effort of removing beach garbage in the world. To date 12 million people have volunteered their time to remove trash from shores around the world.

We also suggest checking out Ryan Biddulph, from Blogging From Paradise, as he outlines 5 Ways To Be A Better Traveler. His tips help support locals, impact the environment less and spread kindness and understanding around the world.

Although removing all plastic use in our world will not be possible, being mindful of the use and recycling is vital. During our beach clean up efforts the amount of styrofoam found among the rocks is astounding.

garbage bags of beach debris

Our amazing photographer niece and her own niece with the ocean trash collection


In an hour the three generation beach garbage collection crew meanders on either side of our beach house rental. Two giant trash bags are almost full of styrofoam, plastic caps, glasses and bottles, rope, string and rusted mechanical pieces of unknown origin.

The most interesting find in our ocean clean up adventure? A cell phone case covered in barnacles wins the prize. The ocean is doing its best to survive the debris it finds.

What is the most unusual piece of garbage you have found on the beach?