Individual Cleanup Guidelines

Individuals are invited to host their own cleanups as long as local governing bodies allow for public access to intended cleanup location. An individual cleanup is defined as a cleanup by one person or household unit, not necessarily organized by a Surfrider chapter, but promoted as an activity available to the public. The following information is outlined to assist in evaluating your ability to conduct an individual cleanup safely.

Participation in an individual cleanup event is voluntary and solely at a participant’s own risk, including risk associated with COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). Individuals should only participate to the extent that they can comply with applicable federal, state, and local rules and restrictions, and the below required practices including physical distancing.


Evaluate your cleanup location:

  • Your state and local governing agency allows access to the location
  • Active use of the area is allowed under applicable laws (e.g. walking included)
  • Additional restrictions on active use are followed, e.g., open and closing times
  • The location is not so crowded that active users can maintain a safe physical distance of 6 feet

Recommended supplies list:

  • Mask/cloth face covering and 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Gloves or if you have one, a trash grabber
  • Up to two separate collection receptacles, one for trash and one for recyclables
  • Surfrider Data Card and pen (clipboard optional)
  • Hat, sunglasses, ocean-friendly SPF

The following rules must be followed to ensure volunteers are equipped to make an educated, safe and conscious decision to conduct an individual cleanup while following CDC public health guidance, local access restrictions, and EPA recommendations for properly discarding used PPE items.  

Individual cleanup rules:

  • If you are feeling sick or generally unwell, stay indoors and heal. 
  • Check with your local authority on use and access restrictions. Select a location where you can maintain a minimum physical distance of 6 feet. Avoid crowded areas at peak times.
  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering when in public per CDC recommendations.
  • Wear gloves. We cannot stress this safety precaution enough. Viruses can live on hard surfaces, and individuals should exercise extreme caution when collecting litter. Wearing gloves discourages you from touching your face or face covering. If using reusable gloves, be sure to properly sanitize between uses. Effective sanitization of a reusable glove depends on the material. Individuals should comply with CDC and EPA guidance on how to effectively sanitize reusable items against COVID-19.   
  • Grabbers are a good way to minimize contact between your gloves and trash items. Sanitize these after use and before transport or storage. 
  • Refrain from touching your face or public surfaces during the cleanup.  
  • Handle improperly discarded Personal Protective Equipment such as gloves, masks, disinfectant wipes, or other medical waste following very specific protocol to ensure proper disposal. It’s important that all PPE items collected are properly disposed of following CDC and EPA guidance.
    1. If you feel comfortable handling such items, use grabbers and place the PPE items in the receptacle separate from recyclables collected.
    2. Used PPE should be tightly sealed in a trash bag and discarded in a lined and secure trash receptacle.
    3. PPE items should not be recycled due to possible contamination.     
  • Sort your collected items and properly dispose of items to the landfill and items that can be recycled. If you are able to, dispose of these trash items at your home as many municipal trash cans are overwhelmed and at max capacity.
  • Remember to use hand sanitizer after the cleanup until you have access to a sink.
  • Wash your hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds as soon as you’re able to do so. 
  • Remember to properly disinfect all reusable equipment before and after the cleanup using an EPA-approved product for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Track what you find as you are collecting trash or by taking inventory of what you collected after your cleanup.


When complete, report your cleanup data:

After your individual cleanup, follow these quick and easy steps to report the information on your data card and support our efforts to research and understand the commonly found sources of pollution. This information is critical in establishing our policy efforts to eliminate plastic pollution at the source.

  • Visit our data collection tool at and create an individual account
  • If you belong to a Surfrider chapter, be sure to select them as your affiliation. If not, simply select 'Unaffiliated' with a Surfrider chapter or club
  • Follow the data entry form and hit submit
  • Share your cleanup photos in the data collection tool and/ or post them on social media with #SmallActs4CleanShores and tag @lovebeautyandplanet and @surfrider

Thank you for conducting a cleanup! Each small acts of love contributes to the greater movement!