Cleaning Up Local Beaches and Beyond


While many people make New Year’s resolutions to better themselves in some way, some people dare to dream bigger. Such was the case with the Burgess family of Cohasset, whose family goal to help clean up local beaches helped spark a movement.

Sarah and Phil Burgess are British expats who moved from England to Cohasset with their two young children four years ago. While the family was adjusting to their new community and way of living, they began questioning different aspects of their lifestyle and considering different ways to lessen their family’s impact on the environment. While out for a walk on the beach on December 31 of 2019, the family started picking up bits of plastic and other trash that had washed up on the shore. By the end of their walk they had filled a bag with trash.

“We asked ourselves, ‘What if everyone did the same?’ says Sarah Burgess. “What if everyone out for a walk took a bag and filled it with the litter that they saw?”

Realizing how much of a difference one walk on the beach could make, the family decided to start a family project. They set a goal to collect, or inspire other people to collect, 2,020 bags of trash by the end of 2020. The family set up an Instagram account called @Just1Bag2020, the kids made posters, and each day they would go out to collect litter around their town. By January 15 the family had collected just 27 bags. But as word about their project began to spread, people across the South Shore community started to get involved. Before long, people from other states and countries were joining in the project too, taking pictures of their bags and sending them to the Burgess family to log and post. 

Amazingly, the family reached their goal of collecting 2,020 bags of trash by the time Sarah’s 40th birthday rolled around on April 11, 2020. Inspired by their success, the family decided to keep the project going. By the end of that year, more than 2,142 people from 20 different countries had joined the movement, helping to collect 24,235 bags of trash from the environment. Fast forward to today and Just1Bag2020 is now a registered non-profit organization and the Burgess family is finding even more ways to inspire people to help the earth. 


South Shore Eco Fest

On April 29, Just1Bag2020 will be hosting a South Shore Eco Fest on Cohasset Common. This event will feature vendor booths from a collection of sustainable South Shore vendors, an Untold Brewing beer garden, live music, eco-themed competitions, delicious foods from the  Thyme Traveling Food Truck, and much more. The event aims to promote eco-friendly living and teach people that reducing our impact on the environment can be fun and easy.

For more information on the festival or Just1Bag2020, visit