The Pop-up Cleanup Recipe

On a July weekend in 2016, Hong Kong beaches were flooded with tonnes of plastic rubbish that arrived overnight without warning.

Not content to sit among trash or simply go home, our members rallied and gathered friends to join in and complete massive cleanups on Cheung Sha, Pui O and Shek O beaches.

Every person who cleans a beach has their perception permanently altered.” Kinzie

We saw a lot of great work and collected lots of tips so we prepared this not-so-secret recipe so that Pop-up Cleanups will continue … naturally.

UPDATE: Following the August 2017 Palm Oil Spill, we set up the Hong Kong Cleanup Volunteers group to connect volunteers with organizers, making it easy to join and share cleanup activities.

The Pop-up Cleanup Recipe

This easy-to-follow recipe features basic ingredients and the method combines a little muscle with a lot of fun in the sun … or rain.

You can skip the gym, ignore the calories and feel good about nurturing friendships while making a difference.


* 1 filthy beach
* 2 or more friends
* bags, shoes and gloves
* hats, sunscreen and water
* camera and notebook for tagging


* Locate filthy beach
* Invite friends to join
* Take before photographs
* Put on hat, shoes and gloves
* Apply sunscreen and drink water
* Pick up trash carefully and place in bags
* Sort, count and photograph trash
* Remove to collection point
* Upload and tag pics
* Email authorities
* Repeat regularly

If there is no refuse collection point nearby, leave the bags and arrange with FEHD for collection or submit with a photo online at Tellme123 or via their convenient app, using the map to drop a location pin.

INGREDIENTS SUBSTITUTION: Filthy beach can be replaced with city lot, country park or anywhere with rubbish calling out to be collected

Bags and gloves will be provided by your local LCSD office and assistance can be provided freely by many of our social members.

Check for local cleanups on Clean Shorelines and register your activity to prevent clashes.

Set a specific start and end time (people can stay longer if they like) and take a group photo with all the bags and assign a few minutes for participants to share their thoughts, feelings, surprises and personal next steps to wrap up your event.

Be sure to get permission from everyone if you plan to share their pictures in photographs on social media.

We also want to make sure we communicate the problem with those who can meet us at the other end, so here are a few ways you can communicate this disaster and get the ball rolling for official relief.

1. Upload and tag your images on the Global Alert App on your phone or desktop — developed by our very own Ocean Recovery Alliance.

2. Send photos by email with the location — every message will be be followed up

– General:
– Marine Department:
– Environmental Protection Department:
– Food & Environmental Hygiene Department:

3. Call 1823 and leave a message.

4. Post your photos and comments in the Marine Lap Sap Facebook group

5. Join a local marine conservation group.

Tips from the experts

Our members on the front lines share their tips with us so we can share them with you.

Local sustainability professional Fiona Sykes offers these tips:

– Decide whether you want to weigh or just count bags. To weigh, get a hand scale and use wide masking tape to number the bag with the weight and record your results on a sheet of paper. Assign one or two people suited to this task.

– Decide whether you’re going to collect and separate recyclables: clean plastic beverage bottles and clean aluminum cans. Communicate clear instructions to prevent having to sort plastics again. And arrange separate collection for this, eg Baguio or Vcycle.

– Make a pile of interesting or unusual things you find for a little art or education display at the end – eg shoes, toothbrushes, fire extinguishers, road signs etc — for sharing.

– If you have kids participating, create a treasure hunt to send them searching for specific pieces eg. a colour (pick up the blue things) or thing (eg bottle caps)  and celebrate their results.

The change begins with addressing our own addiction this Plastic Free July.

As easy as it is to blame our neighbors to the north, much of the garbage comes from right here. We throw away 9 million plastic bottles in Hong Kong every single day. The amount of wasted oil in another form is mind blowing.

Once we start seeing the volume, we might start seeing the value. Imagine if plastic bottles were valued like aluminum cans in Hong Kong. We would never see another one lying around like money on the ground.

Plastic Free Seas

Dana Winograd is co-founder of Plastic Free Seas, formed after the nurdle explosion of 2012 left Hong Kong beaches looking as though a winter storm had past through.

1. Wear closed-toe shoes (no flip flops or sandals.
2. Bring plenty of water in a reusable container(s).
3. Bring sunscreen and bug spray.
4. Wear light clothing. A hat is advisable.
5. Wear reusable gloves.
6. Be careful what you pick up. Don’t scoop with your hands.
7. Take breaks out of the sun and remember to drink water.

Access paths may be compromised. Children must be supervised at all times. Take extreme care when getting to and from the beach areas.

If you are cleaning on your own, leave the rubbish bags near a rubbish bin, or if there isn’t one, leave them above the high tide line and inform the 1823 government hotline of the location. You can recycle clean plastic bottles in good condition and drink cans but you need to take them to a recycling bin.

HK Cleanup

Here are some cleanup tips from Lisa Christensen founder of HK Cleanup, an organizer of managed, sponsored corporate cleanup events in Hong Kong.


– Wear gloves, a mask(if picking up polystyrene) and closed-toe shoes at all times
– Wear light clothing, a hat and sun block to protect you from the sun
– Bring lots of water in reusable, refillable bottles
– Make sure all children are supervised by an adult
– Work in teams


– Pick up dead animals or attempt to move an injured animal — call AFCD or rescue

– Pick up syringes, needles, glass, any sharp objects, condoms, tampons, waste materials, or anything that looks like it comes from a hospital. Mark the area with a ring of sticks or stones and notify the Beach Captain

– Clean in any flowing storm drain outlets.

– Pick up anything too heavy and/or natural items.

Here are just a few pictures of heroic efforts … and the work yet to be done.