With sandal-and-swimsuit season right around the corner, policymakers are raising awareness about the problem of beach pollution.

Environmental advocates emphasize that volunteers can have a remarkable effect on the health of beaches in their communities. Just ask lawyer and environmentalist Afroz Shah, who led a cleanup of almost 12 million pounds of trash near his home in Mumbai.

“I shifted to my new apartment two years back and saw plastic on the beach — it was 5.5 feet high. A man could drown in the plastic,” Shah told CNN. “I said I’m going to come on the field and do something. I have to protect my environment and it requires ground action.”

Beach cleanups are a galvanizing issue for people across the world. The international group Ocean Conservancy, for instance, fights for trash-free seas. The group organizes an international beach cleanup day in September in what it says is the largest effort of this kind. This year, there are over 1400 cleanups linked to Ocean Conservancy planned for the U.S. alone. Cleanup sites can be found everywhere from India to South Carolina.

“Nearly 12 million people and counting have been part of the world’s biggest volunteer effort to protect the ocean. Will you join us this year?” the group asks in it materials.

 

The organization points out that plastic has been found in 62 percent of all sea birds and 100 percent of all sea turtle species.

 

“A problem as big as plastic in the ocean requires a big response!” the group says.

Various New England groups are working to raise awareness and motivate people to get involved with beach cleanups.

 

Save the Bay, an organization fighting for the health of Narragansett Bay, is taking part in the international cleanup in September. Last year’s Save The Bay effort included 85 beach cleanups in 23 towns, carried out by 2,205 volunteers. The cleanup covered 65 miles of shoreline.

 

And each September through November, “thousands of volunteers throughout Massachusetts turn out for COASTSWEEP — the statewide coastal cleanup sponsored by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management,” according to the state.

 

Maine, meanwhile, hosts a coastal cleanup week in September. It ranks as the state’s largest single volunteer event.

“Each year over a thousand participants clear hundreds of miles of thousands of pounds of trash,” the group said.

Connecticut Fund for the Environment points out the clean waterways and oceans are an economic issue.

“Marine debris weakens coastal economies by sapping dollars from the tourism and seafood industries. Long Island Sound contributes more than $9 billion to the regional economy each year, and we’d like to keep it that way,” the group said.