Cleanup Day 2021: Meet those Working to Eliminate Plastic Waste


SOA Blog

Sustainable Ocean Alliance is accelerating ocean solutions around the world. Here are their stories.

Over the past 18 months, plastic and single-use waste pollution has skyrocketed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. At SOA, one of our key areas of focus is supporting efforts to clean up critical coastal and freshwater ecosystems, and encourage upcycling and other circular solutions to prevent waste.

In 2020, we awarded microgrants to 30 projects focused on removing, reducing, and upcycling ocean pollution in 2020—and provided support to an additional 22 projects in 2021. To date, these incredible project teams have removed 60,334 kg of waste, with a goal of reaching 100,000 kg removed or repurposed by 2022. These projects address the issue of overwhelming ocean pollution through beach and underwater cleanups, apps and resources that support low-waste and circular alternatives, and creative upcycling social enterprises.

To acknowledge World Cleanup Day 2021 + National Beach Cleanup Day, we're spotlighting several of these inspirational youth-led projects and the regional impact they've had in 2020 and 2021. Read on to meet eight of our Microgrant recipients who are working to eliminate plastics from our ocean, and learn more about our Microgrants program here.

Special thanks to Swarovski Foundation for their support of river cleanups in 12 countries. 

Meet innoceana, based in Costa Rica

On September 4th, Innoceana conducted a cleanup on the Caño Island Biological Reserve in Costa Rica. They collected 30kg of trash, 70 plastic lids, 281 plastic bottles, 80 pieces of polystyrene, 344 plastic fragments, 50 shoes, and many other items.

CleanUp day IG 3

Meet Plastic Punch, based in Ghana

Ghana is one of the top 10 most polluted countries in the world. Plastic Punch is addressing marine pollution by organizing two beach clean-ups on the turtle nesting areas of Nungua during the grant period. They aim to collect five tons of trash!

Meet the Indonesia Biru Foundation

Twenty indigenous youth from Alor have been selected as Thresher Shark Conservation Champions by the Thresher Shark Indonesia organization and have developed a pilot project to establish a waste management system from the village to the district level. Completing 5 coastal cleanups with 50 kgs waste reduced.

Meet Marulhoeco, based in Brazil

Marulho is a for-profit social enterprise founded by SOA Brazil Hub member, Beatriz Mattiuzzo, that recovers abandoned fishing nets and repurposes them into goods for sale in order to reduce ghost
fishing gear and marine debris. In August alone, they collected 44.4 kg of nets and they expect to collect a total of 300 kg throughout the duration of the grant.

CleanUp day IG 6
Meet Menos Plastico es Fantastico, based in Mexico

This organization collects debris from the beaches of Southern Quintana Roo in the village of Mahahual, MX and upcycles the waste into jewelry and other arts and crafts. They have created 3,000 jewelry items and performed over 10 Beach Clean Ups & 10 Plastic Cleanups.

Gaining Research Experience in Africa for Tomorrow, based in Banjul Gambia

The Dive into Marine Science program will educate 150 youths (75 university and 75 high school students) on ocean literacy and advocacy to build the knowledge and understanding of aquatic ecosystems in The Gambia. They have collected 15000 kg trash on ICC Day with over100 students trained on Ocean Literacy and data collection.

Meet Guardians of the Blue, based in Lebanon

Guardians of the Blue provides divers who come to the club the necessary equipment to pick up marine debris during their dives, and educating them on the impacts of pollution on marine life. They have collected over 5,000 kilo waste reduction between August and December with over 100 participants.

Meet SOA Tanzania

SOA's regional Tanzania Hub have completed a cleanup of the Msimbazi River and plan to remove 2.5 tonnes of waste.


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