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Coffee 'n Treats for Trash: N. Oregon Coast Town Makes Picking Up Litter Yummy

Published 3/14/24 at 5:15 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Seaside, Oregon) – A couple years ago, one Oregon coast town invented a way to incentivize cleaning up its beaches. Seaside started to give you coffee and / or treats to fill bags with beach litter – and that is still going on. (Photo Seaside Aquarium)

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The Seaside Visitors Bureau has been “crowdsourcing” its beach stewardship. It's called the Coffee for Clean Beaches program, but there's more than just java involved. You get $5 in redeemable coins for each pound of garbage you take off the sands of the north Oregon coast town.

Water bottles, bits of plastic, styrofoam containers, food wrappers, and then the random, oddball surprise like parts of a car or a tangled mass of household itesm – it's all unsightly, but it all comes ashore with regularity. Joshua Heineman, director of tourism marketing in Seaside, is not in love with this and believes you should not be either.

So, maybe you deserve a treat for helping out.

First, stop by the Seaside Aquarium to pick up cleanup bags along with gloves. Yup, they're free. Then hit the sands, grab the garbage, and stuff it in the sack.

Then, take a selfie with your handiwork. At this point you leave it next to one kind of garbage container or another on the Prom .

“When you leave the beach, drop your full bags next to any garbage along the Prom so our hard-working Public Works department can dispose of them properly,” Heineman said.

Next up: head to the Visitor Center to show off your selfies. This is how you prove you've done your good. They give you the beach coins at this point.

Every coin is worth $1 in goodies at participating eateries and coffee shops, from food to liquid loveliness. They will make this effort worth your while.

“We’ll reward you with $5 in cleanup coins per person who removed at least one bag of debris from the beach… yes, kids included,” Heineman said.

Heineman said as an example, a family of five can easily fill three bags together. Three bags equals 15 bucks worth of coffee shop coins.

There are always Treasure the Beach Cleanups scheduled on every first Saturday of the month in Seaside, organized by the Seaside Aquarium. They run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Staff will be at the aquarium (200 N. Prom) to hand out bags and gloves, according to the aquarium's Tiffany Boothe. Yet these cleanups for coffee deals can happen anytime.

Also see Spring Cleanup in April Needs People - Including Oregon Coast - Between April 13 and April 22. "Between April 13 and April 22 the scouring fun takes place, with most of it on April 20 – including the cleanups on the Oregon coast. Many areas have their own specific environmental needs, from debris pickups on the beaches to neighborhood and city litter pickups."

“Can't make it to the cleanup but still want to help?,” Boothe said. “Beach cleanup bags are available at the Seaside Aquarium. Just come into the gift shop during normal business hours and ask for a bag.”

All these monthly cleanups have been making a difference, Heineman said. In spite of the pandemic, visitors to the north Oregon coast burgh removed 1,865 lbs of debris from the beach in 2019 and 2,180 lbs in 2020.

More at the Seaside Visitor website.

Those shops participating:

Beach Day Coffee
7 Broadway

Burly and the Bean
1803 S. Roosevelt Drive (sit-down, not drive-thru)

Caffe Latte
300 Broadway, Suite 19 (in the Carousel Mall)

Controversial Coffee
111 Broadway, Suite 7 (in Inverted Experience)

The Cookie Jar
550 Broadway, Suite A

Seaside Coffee Roasters
S N. Holladay Drive

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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