Inbound Ambassador

6-Week Challenge Focus on Ocean CleanUps

Joining a beach or river cleanup as a volunteer gives you a closer connection to your local community as well as the international problem we all face.

For the next six weeks, starting on World Ocean day 世界海の日 (sekai-umi-no-hi) and ending on Japan’s Ocean Day 海の日 (Umi-no-Hi), I am doing local cleanups every weekend, as well as reaching out to do interviews with CleanUp Heroes from around Japan, and across the world. I’m looking forward to learning from different volunteers to compare notes, and inspire each other.

I’m interested to discuss issues they have with waste that washes up near their homes and their strategies to cope as well as ideas for how to improve on the problem. These talks can help us see how all of our waste problems are unique, but in many ways similar. There are some surprising types of waste as well as inspiring ideas for solutions that can come out of these discussions.

Listen to the Podcasts – AUDIO – Talks with CleanUp Heroes

I’ve done cleanups over the last few years and it’s always a great reminder to be a more conscientious consumer and use less plastic whenever possible. For me, living along Japan’s Seto-Inland Sea gives us a unique perspective for beach and river cleanups as the waste we find all of the waste we pick up comes from our local area. There is no one to point the finger at but our own local industries and daily life choices.

Volunteering on a CleanUp is a wonderful to consider how we can live more environmentally-friendly each and every day, but for a 6-week period between June 8th World Oceans Day and July 22nd Japan’s Ocean Day (Umi-no-hi) it’s a special opportunity to focus on what we can do to reduce the damage plastics are contributing to our oceans.

Interviews with CleanUp Heroes

On World Oceans Day, I had a discussion with environmental issues educator and sustainable-living, cleanup volunteer in the Lake Biwa area of Shiga prefecture, Chris Summerville. In our discussion, Chris talks of the most common waste they find from local fisherpeople at the Lake who leave fishing line, cigarette butts and other litter. On a positive note, he talks of the enthusiasm of the kids at their regular cleanup volunteer events.

Sophie Neville is an actress and writer in the UK who is an inspiration for anyone doing cleanups. She has been pulling the strangest, most dangerous, and most damaging litter from the beaches for many years.

See the pictures and read the descriptions of the trash she finds on her excellent blog.

Talking with Sophie Laville about her experiences cleaning the Solent beach areas near where she lives was so inspiring. I’m so impressed that she is able to keep up the enthusiasm to continue to do cleanups day after day for so many years.

Key Points for a successful CleanUp from Sophie Neville

  • Plastic bags and materials which end up in the water too regularly need to be more expensive or banned to deter the overuse and over-littering in our waters.
  • Fishing lines from both commercial fishing nets and hobby fishers are a huge problem – we need to demand all new nets and fishing gear be made of natural, biodegradable materials and have penalties for industries that break the rules.
  • Be safe when cleaning up beaches or riversides – wear protective gloves and use a grabber, call authorities for help if things look too dangerous to collect yourself.
  • Junk food and drink containers/wrappers + Alcohol are items most often littered by people who have no environmental ethics, so these should be the first products we demand to see change to less damaging packaging.

Another active cleanup volunteer is Dave Enright, a sustainable business founder of the Evergreen Outdoor Center.

In this video, Dave tells us about his cleanup volunteer activities along the riversides. It is hard to believe these issues are happening in the beautiful outdoor area of Hakuba, Nagano.

This area is highly regarded by locals and visitors alike for its pristine mountains in both winter and summer, yet they also have to battle the same plastic pollution from households and litterers that plague all Japanese cities.

Dave laments that cleanups will never stop the flow of plastic waste coming down the rivers. He says there are some solutions used in Canadian mountain resort areas – such as banning plastic bags and packaging – that might work well in Hakuba. But Dave is a realist and knows it will be a big hurdle for local Japanese businesses to overcome. He advocates creating a bring-your-own-cup to festivals such as the one he is at in this video.

See all the interviews with CleanUp Heroes

2021 June~July Hiroshima Beach and River CleanUps

Over this special June-July Ocean focus period, we will have cleanups every weekend. Join us for one of the cleanup events in Hiroshima if you’d like to lend a hand, or join us online from wherever you are as I will be livestreaming our efforts on Happs / YouTube / Facebook and Twitch.

My aim to organize a cleanup is to take some of the plastic out of the waterways before it endangers marine life and adds to the world’s ocean plastic problems, as well as build a community spirit of Hiroshima people lending a hand to help with this overwhelming international problem. Please join us!


Hiroshima Japan Beach + River CleanUp Livestreams

Are you a CleanUp Hero or know someone who is?

Please get in touch – I’d love to talk with you and support the great work you are doing!