We’re funding the removal of 200 pounds of trash from the ocean for every traveler who joins one of our multi-day nature expeditions.

Launched in July 2022, Oceanic Society's Traveler Plastic Pollution Offset Program adds a new dimension to our conservation travel model by funding the removal of litter from the marine environment for every person who joins one of our multi-day nature expeditions.

beach cleaners kenya

How Does the Traveler Plastic Pollution Offset Program Work?

When you join a multi-day trip with Oceanic Society, we will fund four days of cleanup effort by a local beach cleaner in Watamu, Kenya, resulting in the removal of an average of 200 pounds of litter from the marine environment. Read on for more details, or see our program announcement.

Your Trip Supports Cleaner Oceans

For every trip you take with us, we will fund four days of cleanup by a local beach cleaner trained and employed by Watamu Marine Association. Beach cleaners walk the beaches of Watamu, Kenya in areas where marine litter is known to accumulate and collect any marine litter they encounter, including plastics, discarded fishing gears, glass, and other solid waste. The litter is taken for processing by EcoWorld Recycling in Watamu, an innovative, community-run social enterprise that specializes in sorting, recycling, upcycling, and properly disposing of marine litter. The money that they earn from repurposing waste in this “trash to cash” model supports their employees and is invested back into the effort.

How Much Trash Will Be Removed from the Ocean?

Each beach cleaner that Oceanic Society supports through this program collects an average of 50 pounds of marine litter per work day. This means that we will be funding the removal of an average of 200 pounds of marine litter for each traveler on each trip.

With 400–450 travelers joining our nature expeditions in a normal year, we expect to fund the removal of at least 40 tons (80,000 pounds) of marine litter every year.

We launched the program in July 2022, but made it retroactive to July 2021. With 251 travelers joining our expeditions in that time, we have sponsored the removal of more than 25 tons (50,000 pounds) of marine litter from Watamu’s coastline to-date.

Who Will Lead the Cleanups & Where Will they Take Place?

Initially, all cleanup efforts supported through this program will be led by Watamu Marine Association, a nonprofit organization that employs local women and youth to collect, clean, sort, and recycle/upcycle/dispose of marine litter.

The cleanups will take place along the beaches of Watamu, Kenya, a hotspot for marine biodiversity that includes important habitats for birds, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, coral reefs, and more. Beaches cleaned will include those within the boundaries of the Watamu Marine National Park & Reserve, Kenya’s first Marine Protected Area and one of the oldest in Africa.

Beyond its ecological importance, Watamu is a popular nature tourism destination that attracts thousands of international and national visitors each year. The tourism industry is the largest local employer, and keeping Watamu’s coastline clean helps maintain the area’s touristic appeal. Oceanic Society's Kenya safaris have been visiting Watamu since 2002, and our partnership with Watamu Marine Association and EcoWorld contributed to our Kenya safaris being named one of National Geographic Traveler's 50 Tours of a Lifetime.

Thanks to Oceanic Society’s Traveler Plastic Pollution Offset Program, Watamu Marine Association will be able to employ multiple full-time beach cleaners year-round. This will free up money that was previously paid out as salary to be invested into other community-driven sustainability initiatives, such as training local snorkel and dolphin tour guides.

In the future, we hope to expand this program to include other partners working to clean other important marine habitats worldwide.

Why Offset Plastic Pollution?

Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to ocean health worldwide. To address this urgent problem, Oceanic Society encourages people everywhere to pursue solutions to plastic pollution in their daily lives and throughout their spheres of influence. Our Traveler Plastic Pollution Offset Program was created to give our travelers a new way to help fight plastic pollution by supporting the direct removal of marine litter in an ecologically and touristically important area. While it does not in any way negate our personal responsibility to reduce plastic pollution, it does help our travelers to extend their impact to an important ocean area and a community in need. Moreover, this inspiring project supports human livelihoods with practical solutions that aim to solve the globally overwhelming issue of marine litter. In the coming years, we hope to expand this program beyond Kenya to cover other marine areas that our travelers visit.

What Else Does Oceanic Society do to Support Ocean Conservation?

As America’s oldest 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, Oceanic Society has worked for more than 50 years to inspire and empower people worldwide to take part in building a healthy future for the world’s oceans. Through our work, we’re connecting people to the ocean and building a movement dedicated to solving the key ocean problems of our time.

Our nature travel experiences have been a core part of how we pursue our mission for more than 50 years. Each trip that we lead is designed to positively impact the natural areas and human communities we visit while delivering transformative nature experiences for our travelers. Learn more about our nature travel experiences and our ocean conservation programs.

sea turtle and plastic bag

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