Tips for hosting your local cleanup event

Often I am asked on social media such as Twitter or Facebook on ideas about how to get started with your own cleanups, or some ideas on where to clean.  Today, I was asked about a relatively strange question, the lack of support from local dive shops.

Perhaps I am naive in thinking that who wouldn’t want to support a great cause. Cleaning the environment? I am in! Sign me up!  However, apparently that may not be the case.  I suppose thinking about it, many issues may prevent a local dive shop from participating.  There might be concerns from the dive shop owner about giving away free fills for a clean up event or; discounts for needed dive gear, such as gear rentals for the day or perhaps the purchase of extra lift bags or; perhaps the shop owner has never heard of a clean up event before.

Well, I say boo to those shop owners and it is up to you, the caring individual, to show them the light.  Here are all the missed opportunities that the shop owners should consider (and yes, I know what I am talking about, I owned a dive shop for seven years).

1. Gear rental and purchases

Not every single diver owns their own gear.  If the shop either participates or organizes a clean up event either on their own, as part of PADI Project Aware or International Beach Clean Up Day, it would be a great way to get all your extra dive gear rented out for the day.  Look, if your gear is sitting around doing nothing anyway, then pick a weekend or month that you know is traditionally slow for business and take that opportunity to rent everything out.  If you offered tank rentals at 50% off, it’s $5 or $7 that you never had in the first place.  If you offered 10% or 20% off basic gear such as mask snorkel, I know darn well that you have enough margin to cover that and still make money.

You don’t need to give away free air (even though it would be such a great thing for the shop to contribute to the effort), you can do first tank free and second tank at regular price.  Fantastic way to show your support, your divers will thank you, AND you got people to walk in the door.

2.  Courses

Last time I checked, every single lake in my area is above sea level.  Guess what, that means PADI Altitude Diver course! As a clean up diver, do you know what happens when your lake is at 4,500 feet and the garbage you are retrieving is at 75 feet?  If you don’t, you should learn about it before you hurt yourself.  Always dive within your limit (By the way, clean up organizers should highly encourage this as you could be liable if you put unqualified divers in dangerous situations).  So let me list all the courses a dive shop could sell to a future clean up divers.

  • Advanced open water
  • Night diving specialty (once your stir up the silt, the visibility goes to zero and it instantly becomes a night dive)
  • Navigation Specialty (Those flat and featureless lake bottom can be confusing. Are you sure you know how to get back?)
  • Search and Recover Specialty (Ok great, you found a stove. Now what?)
  • Wreck or cave course (Many lakes have floating or sunken logs which become either an overhead environment or an entanglement hazard)
  • PADI Tech 40, 45 and higher (This allows the divers to learn to carry and use additional gas as redundancy as well as decompression purposes)

I am sure I am missing a few but I think you get the idea. If your dive shop still isn’t sold on the idea of a clean up dive, I don’t know if you are hanging around the right dive shop!!

3. Get Professional Help

By that I mean get the people from PADI and Project Aware involved.  Contact your local PADI regional manager directly. You can get their emails or phone numbers from the PADI site.  PADI people love it when dive shops buy more books and educational material.  The regional manager will either come or send someone to do a talk with shop owners or event organizers on how to do this properly.  Trust me, PADI would love to help, it’s in their best interest.

4. Get Press Recognition.

If your local shop isn’t really on the program, that’s ok. You should go do clean up dives anyway but don’t miss out on the social media opportunities.  Post your clean up events to Facebook, hopefully with lots of fun photos with great shots of the BBQ, the after party, thanking the existing sponsors.  Make sure you get the local news to show up. Why not? If it’s a slow news day and nothing has blown up, the news station loves human interest stories and about the 1,000 pounds of garbage you pulled up or maybe the 10 year old lost wallet that you managed to return to the owner (yeah, I did that).

Anyway, good luck with your event and feel free to let me know how it went!

Henry Wang

Going for dives with good friends is always a lot of fun. Going for dives AND doing something great for the environment just adds a big bonus to the day! This is a great way for me to keep active in the dive community and hopefully it will contribute to making our corner of the world just a little better than how we found it.


      John Webb

      In addition to all the great information in Henrys blog, non-diver friends/family & other groups, such as Scouts Canada or Elementary school classes, have participated in our shoreline cleanups, while we’re under water & then helped with the post dive weigh in, sorting & data collection. It’s a great way to raise awareness & educate the younger generations of our unseen impact on the other 70+% of our globes surface.

      ZoAnn Morten

      We just had a hugely successful clean up in the Capilano River – North Shore Streamkeepers partnered with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and oceans to remove a whole big mess of fishing line, lures (including treble hooks) and sinkers

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