Volunteers cleaning Puerto Lopez beach

DoMinga – Volunteers Cleaning Beaches #WATWB

Welcome to August’s installment of the We Are The World Blogfest, when we share positive news on the last Friday of each month. Thank you to this month’s WATWB co-hosts: Simon FalkRoshan RadhakrishnanInderpreet Uppal, Lynn HallbrooksEric Lahti, and Mary J Giese.


DoMinga – Weekly Puerto Lopez beach cleanup

This month I am writing about a weekly Puerto Lopez, Ecuador beach cleanup effort. I have no article to link to so I will just tell you about it.

Where plastic bags thrown on the ground go

Dead or dying whales, dolphins and sea turtles periodically wash up on shore, stomachs full of plastic. A plastic bag tossed out a car window miles from shore flows into the ocean, carried by rivers and wind. That plastic bag, along with other garbage, threatens to become a death sentence when sea creatures eat it.


There are already an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Containing the plastic before it makes it to the ocean is the best way to prevent that number from growing.

DoMinga in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Environmentally minded Kelley Budding owns Puerto Lopez based Tentáculo to offer exhilarating, educational experiences that encourage positive interaction and facilitate a deeper understanding of global culture. She also partnered with a national group, Mingas por el Mar, to help keep Puerto Lopez beach litter free.


A minga is a volunteer project to achieve a shared goal for the betterment of a community. They are a part of the fabric in Ecuador and most residents have participated in at least one (for example building a home or repairing a road). Since the Puerto Lopez beach cleanup group meets on Sundays (Domingo in Spanish), the gathering is called a doMinga.



Every Sunday at 5:30 PM, volunteers gather at Tentáculo or their doMinga partner, Punta Piedrero Ecolodge for a Puerto Lopez beach clean up. Anyone with one hour available scours the beach, armed with donated gloves and bags, picking up trash before it goes into the ocean and possibly into the stomachs of sea turtles or fish.

I recently joined the effort. In less than one hour walking the beach, I found two unrelated shoes, plastic bags, candy wrappers, a dirty diaper (glad they give us gloves!), a bathing suit, countless bottle caps, and a tire. All together, the other volunteers and I collected 4.5 kilos of trash.


DoMinga volunteers cleaning Puerto Lopez beach
Volunteer team from the south end of Puerto Lopez beach clean up
August 20, 2017


Once a week, one person at a time, Kelley’s volunteer team and others like hers on beaches throughout Ecuador work to remove trash. These efforts can be done on every beach and inland in every country around the globe with volunteers collecting garbage before it reaches the ocean.


What can you do?

What are you waiting for? Put on some gloves, grab a bag and pick up some trash. You just may save an endangered sea turtle’s life. I will be doing the same each Sunday during our doMinga.

More positive stories

Read more WATWB stories on Emily in Ecuador here.

We are the world blogfest

I am a US Expat in Ecuador. I grew up on a Minnesota farm, worked in IT in California's Silicon Valley, then moved to a coastal Ecuador fishing village. My goal is to share Ecuador with you, one snippet at a time. Topics include attractions, compassion, ecotourism, Ecuador products, everyday Ecuador, and flora and fauna. Please let me know what you would like to read more about!


  • Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Emily – this sounds like the sort of initiative we all need to take. Plastic is just 'the pits' – so useful, yet so dangerous to our oceans and waterways … the tiny plastic granules that sink to the depths are just dreadful. Congratulations to Ecuador and to Kelley Budding instigating this initiative here on your local beach. Good to see you – cheers Hilary

    • Emily Bloomquist

      Thanks Hilary, good to see you, too. You are right, so useful and so dangerous at the same time. I read about those tiny granules and the damage they do – just horrible. Hopefully with more awareness, we can keep some of that out of the ocean.

  • Mary Giese

    Emily, thank you for this story and for playing a part in cleaning up beaches in Ecuador. It's valuable work that this team performs. I would bet that there are other volunteer organizations such as this that clean up beaches around the world…at least I hope so. Our environment and the life within it is so valuable. I hope that we get to a place, at some point, where we all cherish it and keep it clean, safe and healthy. Thanks for participating in this month's #WATWB! 🙂

  • Susan Scott

    It's so terrible the garbage that lands up in the oceans and beaches and just about everywhere causing such damage. And pretty wonderful that people come out on a regular basis helping to clean up … we have those sorts of initiatives in our country. Each of us can do our bit on a daily basis, picking up trash. Thanks Emily – great post!

    • Emily Bloomquist

      Glad to hear that South Africa has these initiatives, too, Susan. Yes, we each can do a little each day and make a huge collective difference. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

  • Deborah Weber

    Inspiring post Emily. It's heartening to hear of organized initiatives like this, although the fact that we need them is discouraging. But as you said, we can all do our part. I'm happy to hear about the international beach clean up day in September. It might be time to do some promoting of that.

    • Emily Bloomquist

      Yes, it would be nice if these initiatives were not needed.

      You are right about time to promote the international beach clean up day, Deborah. In fact, I should have included it in this post – oops. Glad it made it into the comments, though. Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

  • Damyanti

    This is a fab initiative, Emily! Last WATWB, I wrote about individuals in India who have invented a machine that recycles plastic into bio-fuel and building materials with zero pollution. They now have a company: http://rudraenvsolution.com/

    A machine like that would work very well with the rubbish collected from the beach!

    • Emily Bloomquist

      After I read your post last month, I shared the information with Kelley. Such a great machine that they created and it would be amazing here. Thanks so much for writing about that valuable project and company Damyanti! Also thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Michelle Wallace

    This is a great initiative!
    Recently, I noticed that quite a few restaurants/take-aways/food outlets don't keep straws anymore, which shows responsible and eco-friendly behavior. Everybody can play their part… no matter how small. It all adds up.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Writer In Transit

    • Emily Bloomquist

      You bring up such a great topic Michelle! I did not mention it in the post but I found lots of straws and I was not cleaning anywhere near the beach restaurants and bars. It is wonderful that the ones near you have stopped handing them out. Maybe I can convince those here to stop or only offer them on request at least. Thanks for visiting, commenting and participating in #WATWB!

  • Norah Colvin

    What a fabulous initiative, Emily. We need to keep that plastic out of our oceans. What a generous act it is for volunteers to clean up after others. So admirable. What a shame it is that others don't clean up after themselves and put these volunteers out of a job.

    • Emily Bloomquist

      I agree that it is a shame that people don't clean up after themselves. Since not everyone does, I am thankful that Kelley and others like her that spearhead these efforts. Volunteers will be out until we are put out of a job, as you say. Won't that be a great day? Thanks so much for visiting and commenting Norah!

  • Arti Jain

    Hi Emily. This is such a great effort and so glad you chose to write about it. The menace of plastic is everywhere. A couple of years ago, while on a trek in the Himalayas, I saw a lady picking plastic (waste: wrappers/packets etc) as she trekked. She inspired me and I did the same the next day. In less than an hour, I had a grocery bag full of discarded plastic. This was at 14000 ft above sea level. Only trekkers are to be blamed as locals know the value of keeping their hills and mountains and meadows plastic free. In Qatar, we have voluntary groups who clean up regularly. I've never joined before but after reading your post, I think I will go too–once the temperature gets a bit better here.

    • Emily Bloomquist

      Wow Arti, the plastic trash up in the Himalayas certainly did not flow there from somewhere else. I simply do not understand what the litterers are thinking. Thank you for packing out what they did not. Others may have seen you doing it and copied you the next day.

      I am glad to hear that Qatar has similar volunteer groups. Have fun when you join them when temperatures are lower! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

  • BWitzenhausen

    Kudos,what a great story! Sadly we live in a time where things are "disposable". We need more initiatives like this to bring awareness and inspire action. We all need to chip in and do our part! Thanks so much for sharing this and being part of #WATWB.

    • Emily Bloomquist

      Thanks Belinda! You are right, more awareness may change a lot of individuals actions. If people think about what will happen to that xyz piece of plastic, it might make them think twice before tossing it on the ground.

  • Lizbeth Hartz

    Thanks for pointing me to where I could leave a comment. I enjoyed your post about DoMinga and gathering up beach trash to save the sea creatures. I know of a lady here in Hawaii who makes that trash into art and sells it to benefit conservation (she's a marine biologist named Susan Scott.) Love the pics on your sidebar – I had the good fortune to go to Midway Island several years ago and see so many boobies; we had to be careful not to hit them when we bicycled around the island!

    • Emily Bloomquist

      Thanks Simon. I have seen some of the community building occur just since I joined the effort a few weeks ago. People ask what we are doing, then I later see them performing their own cleanup.

      Thankfully, our coast is safe from the Hurricanes. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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