I started a program that rewards people for picking broken glass and cigarette butts off the beach AMA!
Last year I started the Better Beach Project in VA Beach, VA. The way it works is simple- we provide small 16 oz containers to local businesses. Anyone can come into the businesses and pick up the containers for free. They take the containers to the beach and fill them with broken glass, rusty bottlecaps, fish hooks, cigarette butts, or other small but potentially harmful beach litter. They take the full container back to one of the participating businesses and exchange them for a small incentive- a free coffee, half-off growler fill of beer, free yoga class, or stack of pancakes to name a few. Last summer we partnered with 18 businesses, distributed 1,500 containers and removed an estimated 800 gallons of trash of the beach (most of which was broken glass). This year, we are on track to partner with over 60 businesses and just received our first order of 5,000 containers. We plan on running the project in Virginia Beach from April 22nd (Earth Day) through the end of August.
The motivation for the project came from an incident where my dog got a half-dollar sized slice of glass stuck in his paw while we were playing Frisbee on the beach near our house. Additionally, my gripe with traditional beach cleanups is that they end, everybody high-fives, and goes home. How hard would it have been for someone to notice the shard of glass that ended up in my dog's foot? Probably not hard. Either nobody noticed it or nobody cared enough to pick it up. We think our project solves both of those problems, has the potential to influence the community over a longer period than a single beach cleanup, and most importantly, we think there's nothing about this idea that's exclusive to our community.