"Leave Only Footprints 👣"

From the sandy shores, coastal bays, lush swamps and green forests, our connection to nature is undeniable. Yet, increased use, litter, and climate change threaten the very landscapes we cherish and call home. It's time to redefine how we #outdoors—where every action, big or small, safeguards the pristine beauty of Ocean City, MD and the surrounding towns. It's a time where getting out is more than just enjoying the views.  Learn how you can be a part of the change in keeping Ocean City, MD the beautiful coastal city it is.  Because when we do our part, together, we keep our beaches and coastal bays healthy,  keep wildlife strong and ensure everyone is welcomed to enjoy these magical places together for generations to come.



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One of four new benches in Ocean CIty made of recycled cigarette butts. Photo courtesy of Maryland Coastal Bays
One of four new benches in Ocean City, MD made of recycled cigarette butts.

When strolling along Ocean City's pristine shores, it's easy to get lost in the natural beauty that surrounds you. However, there's a subtle threat beneath the surface: cigarette litter. Despite the allure of our oceanfront haven, cigarette butts have persistently topped the list of collected items during cleanups.

In 2015, Ocean City made waves by going smoke-free on the Boardwalk and creating beach smoking zones. Fast forward to 2019, the Green Team's Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP) introduced 'butt huts,' strategically placed for high-impact cleanup. Since the program began, an impressive 350,000 cigarette butts (equivalent to 17,500 packs) have been collected, breathing new life into four distinctive benches installed on the Boardwalk and at Seacrets in 2020. Crafted from recycled butts, the success of the program goes beyond benches; it's a testament to Ocean City's commitment to a cleaner, greener future. 

So, next time you visit Ocean City, take a seat on one of these recycled benches, soak in the ocean breeze, and appreciate the town's dedication to preserving its natural beauty – one cigarette butt at a time. And remember, when you dispose of your cigarette butt responsibly, you play a part in sustaining this coastal haven's beauty, making it a cleaner and greener experience for all. 


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Adopt Your Beach Program Photos courtesy of Ocean City Surf Club
Embracing community spirit: Residents and visitors unite to protect our shores through the Adopt Your Beach Program, creating a cleaner and more vibrant coastal haven for all.

Have you ever noticed those Adopt Your Beach signs along Coastal Highway? Wondering what they're all about? Well, here's a chance for people who love our beach town, whether they're locals or vacation regulars, to give back without spending a dime. The Adopt Your Beach program goes beyond picking up trash—it's a community effort to tackle shoreline and marine debris issues. Oceans have been a dumping ground for man-made stuff for ages, causing serious problems for the environment and communities.

If you're one of those vacationers who always stays at the same rental or hotel, or in a particular part of town, consider adopting a beach area that means a lot to you. Whether it's your home away from home or your second home, you can contribute to preserving your favorite coastal spot. So, the next time you're relaxing at your favorite beach spot, why not lend a hand and be part of something that makes a difference? It's a genuine way to give back to the place you love.


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Horseshoe Crab Recovery Team Photo courtesy of Maryland Coastal Bays
Summer of 2023 Maryland Coastal Bays saved 3,438 Horseshoe Crabs.

Embark on an enthralling eco-experience with the Maryland Coastal Bays! They are seeking passionate volunteers to join the Stranded Spawning Horseshoe Crab Recovery Team, adding a new dimension to your fascination with these ancient creatures. From May to July, explore renowned spawning grounds and rescue stranded or upturned horseshoe crabs. Attend an enlightening training session in late April or early May at the Sarbanes Center, where you'll acquire skills in delicate handling, master data sheet completion, and grasp the vital role of horseshoe crabs in our coastal ecosystem. This volunteer initiative not only prevents mass casualties but also enriches your understanding of stranding patterns in the Coastal Bays.

Why care about horseshoe crabs? These "living fossils" boast a 445-million-year legacy, their blue blood contributes to biomedical breakthroughs, and their eggs sustain migratory birds in the Coastal Bays. For a knowledgeable encounter with these incredible creatures, connect with Maryland Coastal Bays and contribute to the preservation of this remarkable species while enjoying moments in your favorite beach town.


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Composting Pizza Boxes Photo courtesy of Go Green OC

Savoring a delectable slice of pizza on vacation is a quintessential part of the Ocean City experience. Now, you can indulge in this tasty tradition while contributing to a cleaner, greener environment. As part of Go Green OC's initiatives, two Dough Roller locations in Ocean City, MD, located on 42nd and 69th streets, provide a unique opportunity to recycle your pizza box. Simply ensure the box is not waxy and free from labels, then drop it off at one of the designated pizza box receptacles at these locations. It's a simple yet impactful way to enjoy your vacation treat while actively participating in sustainability efforts.


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Beach Heroes-OC Photo courtesy of Beach Heroes-OC
Beach Heroes - Dedicated volunteers gathering every week to keep the shores of Ocean City, Maryland, pristine and trash-free.

While spending only a week in town annually, you have the chance to create a positive impact and engage with environmentally conscious individuals who share your values. Join the Beach Heroes of OC, an inspiring group dedicated to keeping Ocean City pristine. Follow them on Facebook and mark your calendar for their Tuesday clean-ups from 9-10 am. Check their schedule on the Facebook page to discover the weekly meeting location. It's not just about cleaning up the beach; it's an excellent opportunity to meet locals, gather recommendations for hot spots, and contribute to making the beach a cleaner and more enjoyable place for everyone.


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Beach Bonfires in Ocean City, MD

Beach campfires evoke a sense of romance, inspiration, and cherished memories. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve gathering around a beach campfire, cooking hotdogs, and toasting marshmallows with family and friends sharing stories. These experiences fostered my deep love for enjoying the beach at night.

Yet, the allure of campfires, if not approached with care, can cast a shadow on the pristine beach environment. Even the seemingly innocent flicker of flames can spark wildfires, leaving a lasting impact on the natural surroundings.

For those who revel in beach campfires, responsible practices become paramount. Avoid transporting firewood over long distances—opt instead to purchase locally or choose certified heat-treated options, preventing the inadvertent spread of invasive species.

To preserve the beach's allure and minimize our ecological footprint, adherence to rules and regulations is crucial. Respect seasonal fire bans, seek out designated campfire sites, and construct fire rings. Embrace outdoor ethics by keeping campsites litter-free and refraining from burning garbage in the campfire pit. As the night wanes, ensure your bonfire is thoroughly extinguished before midnight, disposing of materials in a user-supplied metal container. Take care not to bury materials in the sand, toss them into the ocean, or deposit them in plastic beach receptacles.

Let the glow of beach campfires illuminate not only the night but also our commitment to the environment we treasure.


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Go Green OC Photos courtesy of Go Green OC
Go Green OC in Action: Spearheading Composting Initiatives Toward Achieving a Zero Waste Resort Town in Ocean City.

Go Green OC Paves the Way for Ocean City's Zero-Waste Journey: In 2023, 24 diverse establishments, ranging from flower shops and juice bars to crab houses and seafood restaurants, joined hands with Go Green OC to propel Ocean City, Maryland towards its goal of becoming the first zero-waste resort town in the United States. Through careful data analysis, Go Green OC demonstrated that composting not only saves costs but also serves as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional waste disposal methods. As a conscientious visitor, you can contribute to this eco-friendly initiative by dining at one of these participating establishments, knowing that your food waste will be repurposed for good. 

Fun Fact: Composting in restaurants can reduce waste by up to 51% — Go Green OC

Participating Restaurants:


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Reefs off the coast of Ocean City, MD Photo courtesy of Nick Caloylan
The Pharoby Dragger sunk around 1980. This wreck is broken up with a large rubble field. Located about 10 miles from the coast of Ocean City, MD

Sunscreen pollution poses a significant threat to the beach ecosystem, impacting corals, fish, mammals, and the entire environment. It can bleach or distort corals and hinder the growth of green algae, a crucial component of the food web. These effects ripple through the entire food chain, affecting vulnerable species. With an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen entering oceans globally each year, our beach ecosystems are in desperate need of assistance!

While reefs might not be the first association with Ocean City, MD, did you know we have ten artificial reefs in our area? One is nestled in Sinepuxent Bay behind Ocean City, and the other nine are strategically located in offshore waters, drawing sport fishermen. The Ocean City Reef Foundation, established in 1997, took the reins from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, focusing on enhancing and restoring Maryland’s seafloor. Through deploying reef substrates, monitoring coral coverage, and promoting growth, they've created thriving underwater ecosystems.

So your sunscreen choice can make a difference for our ocean.  Before grabbing and going, take a closer look at your sunscreen container. It's not just for your well-being; it's a simple choice that can help preserve the health of our oceans ecosystem.


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Beach Tractors Clean Beach in Ocean City, MD

A big salute to Ocean City Public Works for their outstanding commitment! They tirelessly tend to over 700 beach trash cans that line our beaches, and every summer night, town tractors diligently sift through the sand, ensuring a clean shoreline. However, even with these efforts, a few pesky plastic bags still manage to drift in the breeze, posing a threat to marine life.

Maintaining our beloved beach town is a shared responsibility. When you visit, remember this simple tip: Leave Only Footprints. Dispose of your trash responsibly in designated bins, and yes, that includes handling your pet's waste responsibly. Ocean City is as much your favorite as it is ours, and together, let's protect it from the impacts of litter, ensuring the safety of our pristine beaches and wildlife.