Beach & Riverside Cleanup - FAQ

History & General Information

Online Volunteer Registration

Day of Event Information

Other Opportunities


History & General Information

Who started the beach cleanup?

Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) employee Judy Nielsen and Eleanor Dye of the Oregon Sanitary Service Institute (now the Oregon Refuse & Recycling Association) decided to do something to rid the state’s beaches of litter. In 1984, they organized haulers and volunteers up and down the coast and Oregon led the world with the first ever statewide volunteer coastal cleanup. These coastal cleanups are now spring and fall traditions for thousands of Oregonians, and on average, 6,500 volunteers pick up over 50 tons of litter and marine debris from the Oregon Coast each year. Common items found on Oregon’s coast, such as six-pack yokes, fishing line and netting, entangle and kill hundreds of seabirds, fish and mammals each year. Litter fouls boat propellers, clogs engines and contributes to the degradation of our beaches. It also puts a damper on coastal tourism and the local economy.



Can I lead a project in my own community?

Yes! SOLVE supports projects in natural areas across Oregon and SW Washington that engage volunteers in one of four areas:

  • Litter and marine debris cleanups
  • Invasive plant removal
  • Native tree and shrub planting
  • Maintenance and monitoring
Read the project leader roles and responsibilities to learn more about what is involved. You can apply to lead a Beach & Riverside Cleanup project starting in May 2018.


When and where are the Beach & Riverside Cleanup projects?

The Beach & Riverside Cleanup always takes place at the end of September. The 2018 date is still being confirmed. Note that dates and times may vary by site, so make sure to check the project description! Some projects will take place the week before or the week after the statewide event date and may start at different times.

Projects for the Beach and Riverside Cleanup take place along the entirety of the Oregon Coast and many places inland across the state of Oregon. To see all of these events please click here to visit our web calendar starting in late July. 


Which beach sites are the best for finding lots of litter - where my work will have the most impact?

While there is always trash to pick up at all the beach cleanup sites, some beaches tend to need a little more help than others. Volunteers looking for a beach where they will have a larger impact are encouraged to register at less popular sites along the coast. Popular sites include Seaside, Cannon Beach, Nehalem Bay State Park, Fort Stevens State Park, Beverly Beach State Park, etc. Due to the high numbers of volunteers that register for these sites, there may be less to pick up.

Volunteers may notice that the type and amount of debris on the beach changes from year to year. One year you may pick up five full bags of debris while other years you pick up only one. Volunteers are encouraged to bring old colanders to sift the sand for tiny bits of plastic and cigarette butts. These items are the most common type of debris we find on the beach and can be very harmful to wildlife. The small pieces are just as important as the big items!


Online Volunteer Registration

How do I register to volunteer for a Beach & Riverside Cleanup project?

Find an inland or beach project site near you on SOLVE's online calendar starting in late July. After general volunteer registration begins on this date, you may also click on a beach cleanup site using the coastal map on the Beach & Riverside Cleanup webpage. Click the "Register Now" button on your chosen site's webpage to sign up. You can also register to volunteer over the phone by calling 503-844-9571 ext. 332 or 1-800-333-SOLV. If you are bringing a large business, volunteer, or school group, feel free to contact us before general registration opens in July!


Do I have to register online?

All volunteers are encouraged to pre-register online, particularly volunteer or business groups of 15 or more. We like to let the project leader know ahead of time how many volunteers to expect for logistical purposes. Pre-registration also allows you to fill out the online e-waiver and save time the morning of the event, and helps reduce the event's carbon footprint by minimizing the use of paper on site. If you cannot pre-register, you are welcome to register the morning of the event at the check-in table. 

Note that some sites do fill up before the event date. Volunteers who pre-register will be able to secure their spot at their preferred project.


Can I register as a volunteer or business group?

Yes! While registering please select "I am a group leader registering a new group" and name your group. Once your registration is complete and approved, you will receive a confirmation email including a link for group members to use to sign up under your group name (Please note that it may take 48 hrs for your group name to show up). For large groups please contact Kaleen Boyle, who can assure you if the site you are planning to attend can accommodate you. Please let us know if you need help choosing the best site for your group!


I'm a volunteer or business group member. How do I register under my group?

When registering for an event please select "I am registering myself as part of a group" and select your group name from the drop down menu. Please note that it may take up to 48 hrs for a group name to appear once the initital registration for the group has been received. After this you can complete the registration as an individual. You can also register the morning of the event if needed.


I've registered to volunteer, but didn't get a confirmation email.

Confirmation emails are sent out to volunteers who have registered by the end of the next business day. If you have not received your confirmation email within 2 days, please call the SOLVE office at 503-844-9571 x332.


Day of Event Information

Who needs to fill out a waiver?

Everyone volunteering at a SOLVE event needs to complete a waiver.

  • Youth volunteers who are accompanied by an adult can be included on the adult's waiver
  • Youth volunteers who are unaccompanied by an adult need to have a legal guardian fill out a youth waiver for them.

Waivers can be filled out either online - during our pre-registration process - or at the event. You may also print out a copy of our waiver, fill it out, and bring it the morning of to hand to the event leader. Many volunteer or business groups use this option.


What should I bring/wear?

Always wear project appropriate clothing and plan for all kinds of weather. Any specific site based questions should be directed to the leader of that site. We encourage all volunteers to bring reusable water bottles to reduce the amount of plastic waste. SOLVE provides supplies including bags, gloves, tools and other items necessary for the project. To make the event more sustainable, volunteers are encouraged to bring their own resuable bags, buckets and/or gloves to use in lieu of the provided items.


I don't have a car. How can I get a ride to the project?

SOLVE is not able to arrange travel options for volunteers to events. We suggest that you either visit one of the following websites, or communicate with your friends and family to see if you can volunteer as a group and share transportation.

Websites for carpooling/rideshare:

  • Craigslist Rideshare 


  • The Wave

Are projects family-friendly? 

Most SOLVE projects are family friendly, including all of the coastal beach cleanups. Some events may have hazards or be in locations where younger volunteers are discouraged or prohibited from attending. Please visit the individual event listings to find out the minimum age required for your event


Can I bring my dog?

Dogs are allowed on all Oregon beaches, during SOLVE beach cleanups, however we ask that dogs are kept on a leash for the comfort and safety of our other volunteers. For non-beach cleanups please check with the coordinator of the event.


Can I get community service credit?

SOLVE events can count towards community service. If a community service credit form is needed one is available to print here. Please note, all community service forms must be filled out the day of the event by the event coordinator. SOLVE Staff not present at the event will not be able to confirm any community service after the event. Please check with the organization requiring the community service to see if they need you to bring any additional forms to be signed on the day of the event.

What happens if the weather is bad?

Under most circumstances all SOLVE events happen rain or shine. In very rare cases where safety is a concern SOLVE events may be cancelled or postponed. If this happens information will be posted on our website and social media. All pre-registered volunteers will also recieve an email and many will recieve phone calls informing them of the cancellation.

Will I find tsunami debris? Should I be worried about radiation at the coastal sites?

Since the devestating earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan in March 2011, Oregon's beaches have seen an increase in the amount and types of debris. The Oregon Marine Debris Team, a partnership between SOLVE, CoastWatch, Surfrider Foundation, Washed Ashore, and Oregon Sea Grant, was formed to collaborate on citizen-based efforts to track and clean up marine debris, including tsunami debris. SOLVE has also partnered with dozens of Japanese-related organizations throughout Oregon to provide cultural and language interpretive services at SOLVE Beach Cleanups and for suspected tsunami debris items found year-round. The amount of tsunami debris washing ashore has waned in the past year, but Beach & Riverside Cleanup volunteers may still find some items. Please visit the SOLVE Tsunami Debris Reponse page or NOAA Marine Debris Program to learn more. 

SOLVE often gets asked if volunteers should be worried about radiation during beach cleanups. Volunteer safety is the number one priority at all SOLVE events so we continually check in with Oregon officials regarding any potential hazards. The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department are regularly testing for radiation along our coastline, and to date, there has been no data to suggest any radiation over the normal acceptable levels in the sand or sea water. Volunteers should feel very safe heading out to the coast! If you would like more information, check out the State's FAQ page and the latest results from tested beaches.


Is this part of the International Coastal Cleanup?

Yes! The Beach & Riverside Cleanup is a part of an annual world-wide effort to keep our beaches healthy and reduce impacts to marine life. Each year the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) mobilizes over 600,000 volunteers to collect millions pounds of trash from coastal beaches to inland waterways in 92 countries.

See the resulting Ocean Trash Index. Register to volunteer at a site near you on September 23rd and join the world's largest volunteer effort for our oceans and freshwater environments! At the cleanup volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in the ICC's citizen-science effort by filling out trash data cards that will provide a snap-shot of the types of debris we are finding in Oregon.


How do I involve my school?

SOLVE offers Oregon teachers and youth a number of pre-organized one-day opportunities to join in cleanup and restoration events around the state - including the Beach & Riverside Cleanup. Students are invited to sign on as a class, a club, a group of friends, or to participate in these activities with their families. SOLVE will also support schools who would like to lead their own SOLVE projects. SOLVE provides documentation for students who need a record of their service hours. Please contact SOLVE if you have any questions about how to involve your students in the cleanup!


Other Opportunities

How can I become a Beach Captain?

SOLVE is always looking for volunteers who would like to help out at a single beach cleanup site during the Beach and Riverside Cleanup. Beach Captains are trained by Zone Captains, run a check-in site on the day of the event and make sure volunteers receive supplies and safety information. Click here for a Beach Captain description and email for more information!


How can I become an event leader next year?

Oregon and SW Washington volunteers of all ages are welcome to lead a project in their community in one of four service areas - litter cleanups, invasive plant removals, native tree/shrub plantings, or maintenance and monitoring. Projects applications will be available on the SOLVE website starting in early May each year. All leader applications will be due at the end of June. Please contact SOLVE if you would like to discuss your idea for a project!


How can I get involved with other SOLVE events?

SOLVE offers a variety of watershed restoration opportunities for both leaders and volunteers.

  • Oregon Adopt-A-River: (year round) Clean up your favorite stretch of stream, lake or river. Adopt-A-River is a statewide adoption of a 2-mile stretch of an Oregon waterway; participants commit to two projects per year over two years.
  • Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup: (March) Coast-wide litter and marine debris cleanup effort.
  • SOLVE-IT for Earth Day: (April) Statewide Earth Day restoration and cleanup effort.
  • Project Oregon: Lead your own restoration project!

Project Oregon

SOLVE a problem in your community.

Become a Project Leader →

Become a SOLVE Donor

We rely on supporters like you to help us achieve clean water, stronger communities, and a better future for Oregon.

Support Solve→

Stay Connected

Keep up to date with the latest news and volunteer information
News letter signup form