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We Picked Up a Million Pounds of Trash

A little over seven years ago, our tiny team recruited a handful of volunteers to pick up trash at our first cleanup along Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River. And 185 cleanups later, we picked up our 1 millionth pound of trash from the earth’s oceans and waterways. (Which we definitely couldn’t have done without the 7,649 volunteers who have helped us along the way.)

To put that in perspective, the average American creates 4.4 pounds of waste every day. Millions enter our oceans every year. But with a mission to pick up a pound of trash for every product sold and a dedicated cleanup team, we’re slowly starting to chip away at that number.

We talked to our CEO and founder, Brian Linton, and our Head of Cleanups, Kelly Offner, about how exactly we got to a million pounds (which seemed like a crazy far-away number when they both got started) and what’s next for our cleanups initiative.

What We Mean When We Say 1 Million Pounds

We hauled (literal) tons of abandoned tires and picked up hundreds of teeny tiny pieces of styrofoam to eventually hit that million-pound milestone. But the issue of plastic waste entering our oceans persists — so there’s still plenty of dirty work to be done.

What You Can Do

① Come to a cleanup.

We host dozens across the country each year and try our best to make trash-picking fun (think: food, games, prizes for weirdest trash).


② Create less waste.

Everything you can do to reduce your own use of single-use plastics makes an impact. To give you a sense of what it’s like to go waste-free (and how quickly waste accumulates), we’re hosting a #NoTrashChallenge on June 8th and giving away a $500 waste-free prize pack to one lucky winner. Here’s the deal:

  • Follow our waste-free ground rules for the day
  • Document all the waste you create in our handy form
  • Post about the challenge on social with the hashtag #NoTrashChallenge to be automatically entered

③ Buy responsibly.

Products require raw materials and energy to produce, so investing in sustainably made items and reusable goods can go a long way in reducing waste. (That’s why we make the effort to use low impact, post-consumer recycled materials and to tie our mission into every product sold.)

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