This FAQ addresses some of the questions and comments we received from Mississippi Coastal Cleanup volunteers. If you have a question that isn't addressed here, please send it to us via the contact us page.
Q: When does the Annual Mississippi Coastal Cleanup event usually take place?
A: The Annual Mississippi Coastal Cleanup takes place every year on the third Saturday in October. This annual event is a part of the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup Event, and all data collected gets sent in and entered in the world-wide data pool! This event also marks the end of our cleanup year since we have cleanups every month from January to October!
Q: How do you sign-up for a cleanup event?
A: All cleanup events have an online registration for volunteers to fill out. The online registration can be found on the events web-page located under our "Events" tab on the home page. These online registrations help us estimate how many volunteers will be participating, allowing us to pack the proper number of cleanup supplies, and puts you in direct contact with the event coordinator for any event updates.
Q: How will you inform volunteers of any changes to the event?
A: Visit our Facebook page for the most up-to-date information about upcoming and ongoing events. Also, registering for an event will put you on the email list for event-specific updates.
Q: When do the cleanups usually start?
A: The cleanups usually start at 8:00 a.m. but this can vary depending on the event. Site Captains will be stationed at the cleanup site to direct you to your cleanup area and give you supplies, such as trash bags, gloves, and data cards to record the debris collected.
Q: Will lunch be provided to volunteers at every cleanup event?
A: No. Lunch is no longer provided at our events.
Q: What is the Data Card and why is it important that I fill this out during the coastal cleanup?
A: Volunteers clean beaches and waterways and report information on what they find, using the International Coastal Cleanup Data Card, so that sources of marine debris can be targeted for education or pollution prevention campaigns in Mississippi and worldwide. We mail the data cards to the Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C., where the data is tabulated. Over the years, data from the cleanups have been used to enact local, state, national, and even international legislation and agreements. The results are posted on the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup and International Coastal Cleanup Web sites and are included in the International Coastal Cleanup Annual Data Report.
Q: What supplies do I need to bring?
A: The Coastal Cleanup Program Team provides certain supplies through sponsor donations, but volunteers should bring the following items: bucket, plenty of water; sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun; insect repellent (if necessary); close-toed shoes or sneakers to protect your feet; a camera to document volunteers in action and any strange items you may find; work gloves or rubber gloves.
Trash bags and buckets are provided at the site, along with thin single-use gloves and a few cotton work gloves are available at the site, but we encourage volunteers to bring their own kitchen gloves or work gloves for greater protection. A small backpack will help the volunteer to carry extra water and trash bags, a camera, and other necessary items as well as any beach combing treasures that are found during the cleanup.
Q: Where do we meet the Site Captain at when we arrive to our site?
A: Site Captains will be located near the beach area closest to the parking lot. Site Captains will be easy to spot with their bright orange buckets and cleanup supplies. Keep an eye out for any Mississippi Coastal Cleanup signage as well! Most Site Captains will put signs by the road to help volunteers find them.
Q: Is there a restroom at my cleanup site?
A: Please check out the site-specific information by going to the event's webpage under the "Event" tab. For the larger cleanup events, there will be a map on the event webpage where you can click on the site name to access site-specific details. All other events without a site map will have site information on the webpage for that event.
Q: Can participants from previous years be notified by e-mail about the event?
A: Anyone who registered online last year will receive notification for the upcoming cleanup. If you would like to be added to our e-mail list, send us a message on the "contact us" page.
Q: We would like to participate but cannot make it to the event in October. How can we get more involved?
A: The Mississippi Coastal Cleanup that began as a yearly event, is now a full-time education program. The Mississippi Coastal Cleanup Program (MSCCP) hosts cleanup events every month bringing thousands of volunteers to our beaches and waterways to spend mornings picking up trash and debris. For more about these cleanup events, check out our events page!
Q: What if I want to clean an area that isn't on your list of cleanup sites?
A: Our cleanup sites are predetermined for each event based on a variety of factors such as accessibility, restroom availability, and safety conditions. If you know of a public area that is unsightly and in dire need of being cleaned, you can request a bin of supplies and clean it with a group of friends or family. For more information on the Request a Bin Initiative, click here. You can also submit the location through the "Suggest a Cleanup Location". We will survey the site and consider adding it to the site list of a Monthly Cleanup Site in the future.
Q: What if I want to clean one of the Barrier Islands?
A: We provide cleanup supplies to anyone who wants to cleanup on the islands. We, unfortunately, do not provide boat transportation or trash collection to/from the islands. Volunteers would be responsible for getting out to the island and bringing all trash collected back to the main land.
UPDATE: Stay tuned for island cleanup opportunities. To get more information and put on the email list, please email Dr. Eric Sparks @ email@example.com
Q: Where should volunteers park?
A: Parking is availabe at all cleanup locations. Limited parking is available at some cleanup sites, so we encourage car-pooling and arriving early to ensure closer parking during our larger events.
Q: What if we find something too large to move or that won't fit into the bag?
A: First, remember to practice basic safety. Don't try to move something that is too heavy for you to lift comfortably, and do not try to move dangerous objects (such as a metal drum leaking an unknown substance). Inform your Site Captain where you found the item and they will arrange for its disposal.
Q: What do I do if I find a stranded or entangled animal?
A: Notify your Site Captain immediately if you see any stranded, injured or entangled animals. Do not attempt to aid the animal yourself. This could result in injury to you or the animal. Be sure to also write this down on your Data Card noting the type of animal that is stranded and type of debris it is entangled in. Be sure and take a picture as well, as this provides visual evidence of the entanglement.
For marine life strandings (dolphins, sea turtles, etc.) - IMMS Stranding 888-767-3657
For birds, gulls, racoons, etc. - Gulf Coast Wildlife Rehab 228-238-5505
Q: What do I do if I find hazardous waste?
A: Stay away from large 55-gallon drums or five-gallon buckets with intact lids. Report their location to the Site Captain or proper authorities. Do not touch any hazardous waste, and notify your Site Captain if you find items such as: car batteries, tires, syringes and needles, medical waste, and full bottles of disinfectant, chlorine bleach, household cleaners, herbicides and insecticides, or motor oil.
Q: What are the potential hazards of cleaning up marine debris?
A: Marine debris could have sharp edges, so we recommend wearing gloves for pickup. Although extremely rare, marine life could potentially cause harm. Some best practices for avoiding harm from marine life include wearing foot protection when wading in the water to avoid cuts and scrapes from shells, shuffling feet to avoid stepping directly on cryptic marine life, and avoiding seawater (and all materials that have been in contact with seawater) if you have open woulds or a compromised immune system.
Q: I would like to help year-round. Are there other cleanup efforts along the Coast that I can participate in?
Q: Can volunteers receive service hours for cleanups?
A: Yes. We do sign community service hour logs. Logs can be brought to the cleanup event and signed by the Site Captain. We also provide Volunteer Certifications upon request. Please send us a message on the "contact us" page.