The Great Islands Clean-Up

Land Bank - Contributed photo
Land Bank – Contributed photo

Litter-Free by the Sea: The Great Islands Clean-Up on Earth Day (April 22)

Mark your calendars – it is time for the 2017 Great Islands Clean-Up, the annual county-wide spring-cleaning event, during which volunteers collect litter from public beaches and roadways. This year, the clean-up will be held on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, from 9 a.m. to noon, rain or shine.

During last year’s event, approximately 450 islanders collected almost 5000 pounds of litter. And things looked pretty spiffy! But sadly, sometimes our refuse continues to end up as litter. Thoughtless tossing of bottles, cans, food wrappers, or cigarette butts; accidental “blowing away” of debris from unsecured loads on boats and trucks; or deliberate dumping of tires, etc., all contribute to the need to make litter pick-up an ongoing effort.

Many businesses on the islands have been supportive – particularly San Juan Sanitation, who always provides collection for the event. This year multiple organizations have joined the effort – including the town of Friday Harbor, Washington State Ferries, the Orcas Chamber of Commerce, San Juan Islands Leave No Trace, and Friends of the San Juans.

All islanders are encouraged to help pick up the accumulated trash so that residents and visitors alike are treated to a litter-free island where clean roadsides and beaches are the standard.

Want to help?

Free bags, grabbers, safety vests and gloves will be available on San Juan Island at the County Public Works office at 915 Spring Street during the week before the event, and on the other islands the day of the event. Pick-up of collected litter will be at various places on each island; check with your island’s organizer for that information. 

More info and photos below – 

Please connect with your business, school, non-profit, service or neighborhood groups, family and friends and volunteer to help. Join a group that has already been formed, or organize a group of your own!

You can find out all the details on Facebook at, and you can contact your island’s organizers directly.

On San Juan Island:

On Orcas Island:

On Lopez Island:

  • For roadside clean-up, contact Nikyta Palmisani (468-2555 or
  • For beach clean-up, contact Nick Teague (468-3754 or

On Shaw Island:

  • For roads or beaches, contact Stephanie Buffum (472-0404 or

Local Earth Day clean-ups were originally organized on San Juan Island by the Soroptimists. The Great Islands Clean-Up, an outgrowth of these efforts, was started in 2011 by a group of enthusiastic litter-picker-uppers on San Juan Island, Friends of the San Juans, and San Juan County Public Works. Orcas Recycling Services got involved in 2014, and the Lopez Solid Waste District joined up in 2015. This year, Shaw has become an official participant. San Juan County Public Works Department provides funding for the event with Washington State Department of Ecology litter control grant dollars.  

Spring Street International School - Contributed photo
Spring Street International School – Contributed photo
Islanders Bank clean up team - Contributed photo
Islanders Bank clean up team – Contributed photo
Rotary Club - Contributed photo
Rotary Club – Contributed photo
Rotary Club - Contributed photo
Rotary Club – Contributed photo
Leos Club - Contributed photo
Leos Club – Contributed photo
Stillpoint school - Contributed photo
Stillpoint school – Contributed photo

Published by

Tim Dustrude

Just another part-timer - Part time photographer at and, part time graphic artist, part time blogger at Occasionally a New Photo . And now... full time editor at The San Juan Update.