Find out how to volunteer for this annual event that keeps our coasts and waterways safe and beautiful! You'll also learn what you can do year-round to make a difference
- story by Karen Fineran
The Mississippi Coastal Cleanup is this state’s coast-wide volunteer effort to help keep our waterways free from trash, and safe for people and animals. The annual cleanup — sponsored and organized by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) and the Mississippi Marine Debris Task Force — takes place at more than 70 sites in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties.
In Mississippi last year, more than 3,000 volunteers collected more than 60 tons of trash during the annual cleanup. Any land that borders the water — the Mississippi Sound, the bay, bayous, or canals — will be included in the cleanup. Boaters are encouraged to get out to the barrier islands (Cat Island, East Ship Island, Horn Island, Petit Bois Island and Sand Island) and comb those beaches as well.
Marine debris includes cigarette butts, toys, single-use cups and bottles, fishing line, and lots of other types of garbage. Anything man-made, including litter and fishing gear, can become marine debris once lost or thrown into the marine environment. The most common materials that make up marine debris are plastics, glass, metal, paper, cloth, rubber, and wood. If they are on the beaches and coastlines, then they very likely will end up in our oceans.
Hancock County has participated in the global event for the last 26 years. Eighteen of the Mississippi cleanup sites are located in Hancock County, including McLeod State Park, Jourdan River Shores, Garden Isles, Diamondhead Yacht Club, Buccaneer State Park, Bayou LaCroix, Bayou Cadet, Lakeshore and Clermont harbors, the Depot District, and seven different sites along Beach Boulevard in Waveland and Bay St. Louis.
Last year, more than 300 Hancock County volunteers took part in the local cleanup effort, organized by the Hancock Chamber of Commerce. Nearly two tons of debris were pulled from county shores and waters, and 187 bags of garbage were collected. This year, Hancock County’s Coastal Cleanup is being coordinated by the Mississippi State University (MSU) Hancock County Extension Office.
Our coastal and marine resources matter, especially in Hancock County. While this county represents only a small geographic area of the state of Mississippi, we have a big front yard. What happens in the Gulf of Mexico has a significant impact on Mississippi and the entire Gulf region. Our annual coastal cleanup is a reminder that we can make a difference in keeping our shorelines clean and litter-free — one cigarette butt, scrap of fishing line or discarded plastic bag at a time.
Are you ready to take action? Join us on October 17th for the 27th annual Mississippi Coastal Cleanup (and be part of the 30th anniversary of the International Coastal Cleanup)! The event in Mississippi will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and there will be a cookout lunch provided for Hancock County volunteers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., sponsored by the office of Congressman Steven Palazzo and the Bay St. Louis Rotary Club.
Please visit www.mscoastalcleanup.org for a complete list of cleanup sites and to register online or print a registration form, which you can bring with you on cleanup day and turn in at your selected site. Children are welcome and encouraged to participate in the cleanup but must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Bring work gloves, drinking water, sunscreen and a hat, closed toe shoes, and a bucket or bag to collect debris. See you there!