Caring for our coasts: beach clean-up

Time Allocation: 40 minutes*

Activity Level: Moderate


This learning activity explores the impacts of microplastics on our marine environments.

*Time allocation does not include travel time to the beach and coordinating the groups and equipment.


  • Printable activity sheet
  • Clipboard
  • Pencils
  • 30 x garbage bags
  • Gloves
  • Camera
  • Scale card
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Handheld scale
  • Instructions

    STEP 1 (5 mins)

    Discussion:  where does rubbish come from?

    Where do you think most of the rubbish on the coasts comes from?

    STEP 2 (5 mins)

    Beach clean-up: preparation

    Divide your participants into smaller groups, perhaps between 2-3 groups. Locate each group 250m apart. Record the date, time, location, group names and weather on your activity sheet. Take a photo of your site.

    Each group spreads out from the low tide mark to the far edge of the sand i.e., footpath, houses, vegetation, dunes.

    You’re ready to clean-up the beach!

    STEP 3 (30 mins)

    Beach clean-up: collection

    Put on your gloves.

    Walk 250m along your line and pick up rubbish.

    Remember to take a photo every 50 metres and record on the activity sheet the type of rubbish. 

    Tick the box on the activity sheet for the type of rubbish you have collected.

    Put the collected rubbish in the garbage bags.

    STEP 4 (10 mins)

    Weigh your rubbish 

    At the end of the 250m stretch, use a hand-held scale to weigh each bag and record the line they were collected i.e., low tide mark, high tide or edge of beach.

    Combine the weights to determine the total weight of rubbish collected at your site.

    Combine these weights to give a school total of rubbish collected.

    Collect all equipment and rubbish from your sites. Recycle rubbish where possible. 

    Take an after photo of your location. 

    Extension Activity

    Sort through and count the different types of rubbish collected. Recycle or reuse the rubbish where possible. Take a photograph of the sorted rubbish to communicate the impact your collection has made to share your story with others.

    Research the environment of your local area, what animals and plants will benefit from your clean-up? What impacts is plastic having on their environment?