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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Coastal Cleanups
Volunteers play a big role in keeping N.H.'s beaches clean by regularly picking up trash and recording what they find.

coastal cleanup at Hampton BeachIn 2018, volunteers collected a grand total of 127,983 pieces of trash that totaled 10,492 pounds.

Keeping litter – like cigarette butts, rope, bottle caps, and plastic bags – out of the marine environment helps whales, birds, fish, and other sea life. Litter hurts these animals' ability to move, eat and take care of their young when they ingest or get caught in it. Removing trash also makes the beach safer and more enjoyable for people to visit!

Opportunities to participate include one-day events, an Adopt-A-Beach Program, and the annual New Hampshire Coastal Cleanup – held every year on the third Saturday in September. Individuals, families and groups are all welcome to participate. The Coastal Program helps support these programs through a federal grant from NOAA's Office for Coastal Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act in conjunction with the NHDES Coastal Program.

In 2018, the Coastal Program adopted a portion of the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge at Fabyan Point on Great Bay in Newington, through the Blue Ocean Society's Adopt-a-Beach Program and under the direction of a member of the management team at the refuge. Coastal Program staff committed to clean up this spot two times a year and to record the items collected on data cards provided by the Blue Ocean Society. Last year, staff conducted two cleanups, with one in the spring and one in the fall. The total pounds of trash collected was 538lbs, including some large bulky items like barrels and coolers. The Coastal Program is planning to continue its participation in the Adopt-A-Spot program.

Learn more about how to volunteer by calling the Blue Ocean Society at (603) 431-0260 or visiting their cleanup website at

Volunteer Cleanup Opportunities

Cleanup Results

Plastic in the Ocean

The impacts of plastic in the ocean are far reaching. Plastic never really "goes away," but breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually being dubbed "microplastic" – something that's less than 5mm long and continues to threaten marine life when mistaken for food and ingested. Tiny bits of plastic are hidden among the grains of sand on N.H.'s beaches.

Volunteers also continue to find "Hooksett disks" – small white plastic circular shaped mesh disks, approximately two inches in diameter, from the accidental spill of millions of disks from the Hooksett Wastewater Treatment Facility in March 2011. At least 93 disks were found in 2018.


Additional Resources



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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

copyright 2017. State of New Hampshire