The results are in! Throughout September and October, 576 volunteers combed Puget Sound shorelines to remove over 2,767 pounds of marine debris from their local waterways! Spanning land and water, participants scoured urban shorelines, hiked through uninhabited islands and boarded kayaks at 26 separate locations throughout the Puget Sound. This series of cleanup events was part of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) organized globally by the Ocean Conservancy, and coordinated locally by Puget Soundkeeper with the help of many fabulous partners. Read on to learn more about all of the gunk we found and how this trash affects our local watershed!

Volunteers at Centennial Park.

From broken car windows to barnacle-encrusted fishing-rods, volunteers found a little bit of everything. For example, Lake Union, situated right in many Seattleites’ backyards, had shorelines clogged with trash. There, we found multiple articles of clothing (hiking shoes, bathing suits and even a Seattle Mariners hat) and over a thousand bits of floating plastics. At more remote cleanups, we found stretches of shoreline where nature had started to reclaim beached debris, creating new niche ecosystems. At Blake Island, we stumbled upon a 3 foot block of Styrofoam entangled in kelp that had become a new home for various critters. In addition to these more noteworthy scraps of debris, we found many of the usual suspects choking our waterways including over 3,693 bits of plastic, 1,335 beverage bottles and 2,759 food wrappers.

Styrofoam trying to join the ecosystem.

Working together, participants gathered vital information about what is floating into the Puget Sound. After compiling the data, we found that waters near dog parks are packed with tennis balls, rivers near industrial sites harbor commercial debris and cigarettes appear just about everywhere. (In fact, our friends over at Vulcan filled two 5-gallon water jugs with cigarette butts over the course of one lunch break!) In the coming months, the Ocean Conservancy will compile a comprehensive report detailing what was picked up throughout the world. This “Ocean Trash Index” provides a snapshot of what’s trashing our oceans so we can work to prevent specific items from reaching the water in the first place.Vulcan's crazy cigarette butt haul.

It was awesome to be a part of an international cause that has a great impact preventing pollution and conserving the ocean. Although I was indeed aware of how big the coastal cleanup was nationally, I didn’t realize just how much trash is really out in the environment! Being a lover of animals, it felt great to help keep the environment safe and the animals out of harm’s way.

-Markeisha Fisher, FEMA Corps/ Americorps NCCC Pacific Region

The ICC undeniably has a huge environmental impact—it simultaneously raises awareness while recovering thousands of pounds of marine debris. This series of events encourages communities to reclaim their local water bodies and takes a stand against reckless pollution. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The most harmful water pollutants entering Puget Sound are remarkably difficult to remove (think oil spills, PCBs, and stormwater runoff). Thankfully, we can all take steps to reduce our individual impact and collectively move towards a healthier Puget Sound.

Become and active steward of your watershed with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance! To learn more about how to combat these pollutants and protect your local waterbody, email us anytime at and get involved!

Blog Logo Slug 2014

A complete list of the 2014 Puget Sound cleanup sites is below:

  1. Edmonds (Picnic Point Park) with Soundside Marinelife Rescue Center
  2. Redmond (Sammamish River)
  3. Sucia Island with FRIENDS of the San Juans
  4. Seattle (Golden Gardens) with Seattle Academy
  5. Seattle (South Lake Union) with Edmonds Community College
  6. Whidbey Island (Double Bluff Country Park) with WSU Island County Extension
  7. Seattle (Green Lake)
  8. Seattle (Washington Park Arboretum)
  9. Shoreline (Richmond Beach Park) with the Richmond Beach Congregational Church
  10. Lake Forest Park (Lyon Creek Waterfront Park) with the Richmond Beach Congregational Church
  11. Whidbey Island (Fort Casey State Park) with WSU Island County Extension
  12. Seattle (Jack Perry Memorial Park)
  13. Seattle (Alki Beach)
  14. Seattle (Centennial Park)
  15. Port Townsend with the Port Townsend Marine Science Center
  16. Gig Harbor (Purdy Sand Spit)
  17. Tacoma (Solo Point) with United Church in University Place
  18. Burien (Seahurst Park) with ThePlatform
  19. Seattle (Lincoln Park) with Cox Enterprises
  20. Whidbey Island (Keystone Spit East) with WSU Island County Extension
  21. Renton (Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park) with the Renton Sailing Club
  22. Blake Island with Argosy Cruises
  23. Seattle (Fremont Ship Canal) with Europe Express
  24. Olympia (Pioneer Park) with Pacific Shellfish Institute
  25. Everett (Howarth Park) with Wells Fargo Bank and Caruh Salon
  26. Seattle (Duwamish River) with the Duwamish Alive Coalition