NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!


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Love Our Ocean This Valentine’s Day!

It’s Valentine’s Day, so take some time today to show our ocean some love. We get a lot from the ocean—food, travel, even clean air to breathe— so return the love by thinking about how you can help protect it from marine debris. Consider how you might contribute to the marine debris problem and think about changes you could make to help. Do you bring reusable bags to the grocery store? Do you drink out of a reusable bottle at work? Do you recycle the items you use as often as possible? Following the 3R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle!) whenever you can makes a big difference for our ocean.

If you’d like to make a bigger gesture, consider helping to spread the word about marine debris or getting involved in a cleanup event! There are lots of free outreach materials on our website and our monthly e-newsletter lists cleanups happening throughout the country each month. No matter how you choose to show the ocean some love, every little bit helps. Let’s work together to love our ocean and give it the attention it deserves!

Happy Valentine’s Day from the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

Child's drawing of waves with marine debris that says to be part of the solution and to love the ocean.

(Credit: 2017 Marine Debris Calendar Art Contest Winner, Maile R., Grade 1, Hawaii)


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Celebrate MLK Service Day by Joining a Shoreline Cleanup!

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and let’s remember that it’s not just a day off from work and school, but a day to think about Martin Luther King, Jr. and what he did for our country. To commemorate a great man who spent his life serving others, this day has become a time to come together to give back to our communities and volunteer our time to a good cause. If you’d like to participate in Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day, consider joining a cleanup in your area. Cleaning up your local shoreline or even just your neighborhood can help prevent trash from becoming marine debris and can help to create a healthy ocean that we can all enjoy.

Groups across the country host cleanup events throughout the weekend and volunteers are always welcome. If you can’t make it to an organized event, consider either organizing your own or just grabbing a trash bag and some gloves and cleaning up your local area. No effort is too small. If you choose to serve on your own, please remember “safety first!” Interested in getting involved in cleanups in the future, too? Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to get updates on upcoming cleanups around the country.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day!

Kids pick up debris.

Volunteers work to clean up their local area at a cleanup event in Washington, DC. (Photo Credit: NOAA)


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Happy New Year from the NOAA Marine Debris Program!

Another year has come and gone and we like to take this time to look back on the past year and look forward to the next. Not only was 2016 the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s ten-year anniversary, but this past year also saw over 44,500 students involved in marine debris education and outreach and over 1,775 tons of debris removed from our shores! Check out our 2016 Accomplishments Report for more on what we’ve achieved this past year. Looking to 2017, we’re excited for the year ahead and we hope you are too! We resolve to continue our fight against marine debris and to strengthen our efforts by supporting 14 projects to remove debris and 12 to prevent it, all of which are in the beginning stages this year. Keep your eye on our blog and website as we work on that resolution throughout the year!

What are your resolutions? There are many efforts we can all resolve to make to get our ocean off to a good start in 2017. Be aware of how your actions contribute to marine debris. Reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible. If you’d like to become more active this year, consider getting involved in a cleanup event in your area— it gets you outside, is a good place to meet other like-minded people, and helps keep our ocean clean. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for monthly updates on event locations.

Keep the environment in mind as you ring in 2017 this New Year’s Eve. Let’s work together to make this next year the best it can be for ourselves and the ocean we rely on.

Happy New Year from the NOAA Marine Debris Program!

Image of glass bottles on a beach with the words "Happy New Year! Remember our environment and celebrate responsibly" overlayed.

(Photo Credit: NOAA)


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May Your Holidays Be Both Green and Joyful!

A nicely wrapped present in brown paper with a ribbon.

Green holidays never looked so good! Here, a beautiful gift is wrapped in paper packing material, with a reusable bow and hand-made name tag from a paper bag. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

The holidays are a time to give back and enjoy the company of the ones you love. Here at the NOAA Marine Debris Program, we love our ocean and we hope you do, too! So during this season of giving, consider giving back to our ocean by taking a few of these simple steps to make your holiday “green.” There are lots of little things we can all do to have both a joyful and environmentally-friendly holiday season!

Practice some smart shopping. When doing your holiday shopping for gifts and groceries, think about the packaging those items come in. If possible, opt for items with minimal packaging or stock up on bulk ingredients. And of course, don’t forget your reusable bags, which are not only environmentally-friendly, but much sturdier for when you’re stocking up on ten pounds of flour (true story).

Skip the disposable cutlery. It’s a special time of year to spend with the people that we care about, so celebrate by taking out the nice dishes and silverware and skipping the disposable stuff.

Try some reusable and creative wrapping ideas. Consider wrapping your gifts in something other than wrapping paper. There are so many cool ideas that not only make your gifts stand out, but help to make your holiday green! Consider reusing old newspaper or some of that packing that your gifts were shipped in. Even better, think about using reusable fabric to wrap your presents this year. Some families even choose a particular pattern for each person and reuse them year after year, making a fun new tradition! If you’d like to be the gift-giving champ, think about “wrapping” a gift within another gift, like a gift wrapped in a pretty new scarf or a present tucked in a new purse or shaving kit!

Take care of any packaging the right way. There will inevitably be some waste at the end of your holiday merriment. Make sure you take care of it the right way—save the things that can be reused next year (you may never have to buy wrapping paper again!) and recycle what you can.

Want some more ideas to keep your environmental impact low this holiday season? Check out these tips from the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration. It’s the season to spread some joy and love around, so remember to do your part to show our ocean some love this holiday.

Happy holidays from the NOAA Marine Debris Program!


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This Thanksgiving, We’re Thankful for Our Ocean and We Hope You Are Too!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and we’re taking time to think about what we’re thankful for. Here at the NOAA Marine Debris Program, we’re thankful for our many partners that help us to address marine debris! We’re also thankful for people like you who care about this issue and do what you can to help! Every person who chooses to recycle what they can, or who brings a reusable bag to the grocery store—we’re thankful for you!

We’re also thankful for our ocean and Great Lakes and we hope you are too! So, this Thanksgiving, think how about how you can help to keep your holiday green. When you’re doing some of that last-minute grocery shopping, take reusable bags with you and consider getting bulk ingredients or items with minimal packaging. For the main event, it’s the type of occasion to get out the nice plates and silverware. By using reusable cups, plates and utensils, you’re helping to reduce your use of single-use items. For the items that do need to be tossed at the end of the day, don’t forget to recycle what you can. If we all continue to do our part, maybe next year we can be thankful for a cleaner ocean.

Happy Thanksgiving from the NOAA Marine Debris Program!

A drawing of a turkey recycling.


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Recycle Today and Every Day

Today is “America Recycles Day,” a national initiative put on by Keep America Beautiful. As we celebrate by taking a good look at our recycling practices, we’re reminded to improve our recycling habits today and every day! Do you know how to recycle right? Every location is different, so make sure you research your area to see how you can contribute! Want to be a little more involved? Attend a recycling event or take the pledge!

A graphic that says "I (recycle sign) America Recycles Day, November 15."

Let’s celebrate “America Recycles Day” today and every day! (Credit: Keep America Beautiful)

Every person can be part of the effort against marine debris by embodying the “3 Rs” as much as possible—reduce, reuse, and recycle. Initiatives like “America Recycles Day” help to keep us on track and remind us of the simple things we can all be doing to help prevent marine debris. America’s recycling efforts have improved, but there is still a long way to go. Think about how you can help! Remember, every effort counts. Think of the difference it would make if we all did our best to recycle!

For more information on how to help combat litter and marine debris, visit the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s website.

A large heap of trash at a recycling center.

Thanks to local recyclers, all this trash is getting ready to be recycled at a recycling center! (Photo Credit: NOAA)


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You Know What’s Scary? Halloween Debris

Halloween is almost here and with it comes lots of scary, spooky things—monsters, mayhem, and… marine debris!

Child's drawing of a marine debris monster.

Drawing by Teeger B., Grade 8, California, art contest winner featured in the 2013 Marine Debris Calendar.

Unfortunately, Halloween often means more trash that can become marine debris. Wrappers are one of the top debris items in general and the many candy wrappers that are part of this spooky holiday can substantially add to their accumulation. On top of that, some of those cool Halloween decorations that are placed in our yards blow away, never to return to their storage boxes. So, as you’re trick-or-treating, handing out candy, or getting into other kinds of Halloween mischief, make sure to keep in mind that we can all do our part to make sure Halloween ends with buckets full of candy, and not waters full of debris.

Make sure those spooky decorations are securely placed and that those candy wrappers are disposed of properly. If you’re handing out candy, consider some non-plastic options, such as goodies packaged in cardboard boxes or paper that can be recycled. We can all be a part of fighting the marine debris that haunts us!

A decorative Halloween skeleton found as marine debris.

This skeleton was found as debris during an Earth Day cleanup in April. Make sure debris items like this guy don’t get loose! (Photo Credit: NOAA)

Happy Halloween!