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Cleaning Up Trash from a Paddleboard

Protect what you love and plan an adventure with the main purpose of cleaning up trash from a paddleboard. Bonus: it’s a great way to work on your balancing skills!

Below you will find recommended equipment, tips and resources for cleaning up trash from your board! 

Paddleboarder beside litter collected on the water among fallen trees
laundry bins on paddle board with trash collected in them
paddleboarder with lots of trash on their board

Trash Clean-Up on a Paddleboard (SUP)

Where:

Anywhere you paddle!

Depending on the area, you don’t have to paddle far and they are a great way to contribute to the greater good, keep the waterways beautiful. 

Most trash collects around fallen trees, beaver dams/lodges, or located near areas such as bridges, footpaths and roads. A lot of litter is also found on the shoreline so you can encourage non-paddlers to join you!

Equipment:

  • A plastic bin/laundry bin (watch that the bin doesn’t have large holes. I’ve made this mistake before!)
    • A durable reusable grocery bag that holds its shape can work too, but keep in mind these don’t sit as securely on your board
  • Garbage bags
    • Bring extra bags with you. This way when your bin fills up or you find larger items, it’s easier to contain them and transport them for proper disposal. 
  • Trash grabber
  • Gloves
    • I like Gardena garden gloves. Your hands don’t get sweaty and they are reusable. You can wash them afterwards and are they are useful for gardening at home too.
  • Hand Sanitizer 
picking up trash from a paddleboard

Tips:

  • Pick a calm,  low wind day, especially for your first time. It makes collecting trash easier and more pleasant
  • Have a plan for the litter’s final destination. Are there items you could recycle or does all the trash go in the same disposal type bin in your municipality? If you’re organizing a large litter clean up be sure to contact your local municipality to advise them of the additional garbage being put in city bins or large item pick up.
A pile of collected trash
Laid out and organized trash
  • Count and categorize: Go beyond and document it for your area. See below for resources. You can count as you go (on your phone or a piece of paper) or do it post paddle (that’s what I find easiest, it’s one less thing you need to worry about while you’re on the water).
  • Bring only essentials.  The more you have with you the more difficult it is to manage everything on your board.
  • Line your laundry bin with a garbage bag to help transfer the litter and avoid losing the trash in any laundry bin holes.
  • Kneeling is usually easiest since you are grabbing the litter from the water surface. Try using your hands with gloves vs a picker. A picker will help you grab objects further from your board but it’s an extra item you’ll need to manage.
  • Know your limits. If there is a piece of trash you’d like to pick up but it’s too difficult, don’t risk your safety or spill all the trash you’ve already collected.
  • Take water breaks and assess your surroundings. It’s important to stay hydrated and safe. You can get distracted when collecting litter and not realize you’ve drifted too far, or realize the weather has changed. Be realistic when collecting litter and be mindful that your safety is the most important thing!
  • Safety first: If you see used needles or other unsafe items it’s better to be safe and leave them.
Picking up trash while paddleboarding

Going Beyond Picking Up Trash:

There are a ton of great organizations collecting data for educational purposes as well as helping make a bigger impact.

Think of the bigger picture when making purchases and choices in your day-to-day. No one is perfect, but we can all make progress together; such as using a reusable water bottle instead of buying water in plastic bottles or buying quality gear from environmentally-minded companies that will last you a while!

Remember, every little bit helps! Pick up litter anytime you see it!

paddleboarding picking up litter with a trash grabber. Paddleboarder is wearing a plush white tiger hat

Have fun with it!

See what you can find and learn more about your area!

Have you cleaned up trash from your paddleboard before?

Leave a comment with any questions, additional tips and the weirdest thing you’ve found!

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