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The Problem

Marine debris, particularly plastic, is one of the major human-caused threats endangering whales, dolphins and other marine life.

After studying marine debris for years in Hawai‘i, we implemented the Adopt a Beach program to engage Maui residents in coastal cleanup efforts and provide debris data for inclusion in our marine debris database. The data is used to guide and support relevant legislation and help identify education campaigns.

The Goal

A community science program involving the public in marine-debris data collection while removing potentially hazardous trash from beaches and shorelines to protect ocean and wildlife health.

The Process

Similar to the Adopt a Highway initiative, participants clean their favorite beach monthly for a one-year period and provide PWF with valuable data used to develop long-term solutions.

Adopt a Beach community scientists collect and record debris items monthly and submit data sheets for inclusion in our marine debris database. PWF provides reusable gloves, data sheets and recycled collection bags. Those who consistently submit data sheets can receive fun incentives, such as PWF-branded swag.


See full map of currently adoptable beaches

If the beach you would like to adopt is not listed, please let us know!

Join Adopt a Beach today!

  1. Watch the training video to learn more about the program
  2. Visit our Volunteer Project list page to select your chosen beach and fill out the application form

Participant Requirements

  1. Currently, participants must reside in Maui County.
  2. Participants must be willing to commit to an entire year of data collection. If you have a vacation planned or can’t make it one month for personal reasons, we understand. See FAQs below for more information regarding missed monthly cleanups. 

Before you clean

  1. Schedule your one-time pickup of reusable supplies by contacting [email protected]
  2. Head to your selected beach and collect, record and properly dispose of accumulated debris

After you clean

  1. Snap a photo of both sides of your data sheet
  2. Email it to [email protected] by the 5th of the following month to be eligible for incentives
  3. Recycle what you can according to Maui County criteria and dispose of the rest responsibly

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get permanent marker ink off my data sheet?

We provide permanent markers that don’t smudge to ensure the integrity and accuracy of data recorded on each sheet. Remove marker ink with rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, nail polish remover or any alcohol-based cleaner. You can also use your own dry-erase marker to easily wipe away previous data recorded.

What if I cannot clean my beach for one month?

The program depends on consistent data collection and regularly monitored beaches and coastlines to protect marine wildlife. Ideally, if you have a conflict, we greatly appreciate efforts to provide a replacement (i.e. train a friend to take over while you’re unavailable). If not possible, email and we’ll do what we can to find an alternate.

What about supplies?

Program participants receive reusable supplies (gloves, bag, data collection sheet, pen) to conduct cleanups and collect their data. If you misplace or otherwise lose one of these items, it’s acceptable to substitute with similar supplies you may have at home. We encourage your creativity and resourcefulness in this situation. If you cannot find a replacement for the missing item, contact us and we will provide the necessary tools for cleanup completion.

What is the best way to clean a beach?

For effective marine-debris collection, we suggest employing a “line transect” method—zig-zagging between the waterline and the shrub line as you gather and record debris.

What if there are only a couple of pieces of debris at my beach?

ALL DATA IS VALUABLE. We want to know debris trends across the island. If the trend is minimal debris, that information is equally important to our marine plastic pollution advocacy work.

What if there is more than what I can collect at my beach?

DO YOUR BEST. At some beaches, you may find that there is a TON of tiny pieces of plastic. Please remove what you can and record an EXACT number, as opposed to “lots” or “tons”. For data purposes, we need a numerical value.

What should I wear?

We recommend sun protection and gloves. Closed-toe shoes are encouraged on certain beaches. Beyond those things – up to you and your comfort level!

Want to help but can’t commit to helping once a month?

Check out our Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring Program for an opportunity to contribute to our growing database — community science on your own time!