Monday, October 2, 2017

39,000 Volunteers Clean Ecuador Beaches, Rivers, and Ocean Floors

"Think globally, act locally."
-- Origins of the phrase are disputed according to Wikipedia

Ecuador Environmental Protection

In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to provide constitutional protection for the environment. This does not mean that garbage is always deposited in a receptacle nor that all packaging is biodegradable. What it does mean, among many other things, is that students learn about the negative impact plastic in oceans and rivers have on the planet.

Rings on beverage cans can kill marine life.
From Manabi Province Environment Ministry Tweet

Since 2010, Ecuador's Environment Ministry has been leading a September cleanup as part of International Beach Cleaning Day, promoted by the International Ocean Conservancy Organization. Volunteers take action when others leave garbage behind. It is often easier to begin taking action when you are surrounded by friends doing the same. The Environment Ministry hosted Accion por el Planeta beach cleanup day on September 30, 2017. (Note the September 16 international day this year was during Ecuador school holidays. Ecuador waited until school resumed before hosting their day.)

Act Locally

At the Puerto Lopez meeting point, volunteers congregated, obtained motivational words on why we were here, obtained supplies, then dispersed and began cleaning the beach.

Volunteers, primarily high school students, cleaning Puerto Lopez beach
September 30, 2017

Each five member team had a bag, gloves, paper and pen. Together they filled the bag and documented what they collected. These stats will go into national and international databases and become important data points when discussing what is heading into or washing up from the ocean.

Once teams filled the bags, they finished their paperwork.

Teams assisting each other with paperwork

As bags filled up, they were easier to manage with two people carrying them.

Lightening the load with a teammate

Once the beach was clean, everyone hung around for a snack, a drink, and some pictures. The girls below asked for a shot with my friend Kelley and I but I neglected to ask how we would get a copy to them. Hope they read my blog...

Fun photo frame in Puerto Lopez

Kelley spearheads the Sunday doMinga beach cleanups I wrote about here. Perhaps some of the volunteers from the national cleanup will join the weekly efforts.

I was impressed that police, military, national park employees, vacationers and locals all joined the students in this volunteer effort.

Elsewhere in Ecuador, Galapagos Ocean Floors Included

On the Galapagos Islands, there were 50 meetup locations for volunteers on five islands. Some of them cleaned the ocean floor - check out the tweet below.

They dove to clean the Galapagos at the pier, Etica Bay, and Franklin Bay.

Final Statistics

The Environment Ministry published nationwide statistics from the September 30 Accion por el Planeta beach cleanup.

  • About 39,000 volunteers
  • 317 cleanup sites
  • More than 834 kilometers cleaned
    • Beaches
    • Rivers
    • Lakes
    • Lagoons
    • Ocean floors
  • 182,389.77 kilograms of solid waste

Results from Puerto Lopez
Accion por el Planeta

Think Globally

Want to schedule or participate in a cleanup near you? Check the Ocean Conservancy beach cleanup locations here.


  1. Nice report Emily! Let's hope we can get a few more kids to participate on Sundays. The beach soccer leaque season starts in January and we should definitely link them into our efforts.
    Love the blog! Adelante juntos.

    1. Yes, hopefully some of those who were with us on Saturday will join us - that would be fantastic! Thanks for all of your efforts to keep the Puerto Lopez beach clean and educate people on environmentally alternatives to plastics, Kelley. Thanks for you kind comments, too. Adelante juntos.

  2. Hi Emily - what an excellent idea ... 39,000 - that's a brilliant number of people helping out - sadly so much needs to be done- we are not helping our oceans or our wildlife - Ecuador is really setting the lead here ... cheers Hilary

    1. I agree Hilary - a brilliant number! If only a small percentage of that number continue doing the same once per month or week, imagine what a difference we can make. Little by little is how lasting change usually happens and this is a step in the right direction. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!