Introduction: Bucket Sifter for Beach Cleanups

About: We're creating superheroes to protect the oceans. We also like making things, so we wanted to share those things with you.

We run at least one beach cleanup per month in NYC and we thinking about how we can make the cleanup process a bit more efficient.

This instructable will show you how to make a sifter from a bucket to bring with you to your next beach cleanup. We found all of the materials in the free section of our local craigslist listings. You can also purchase all of the materials (minus the tools) at your local hardware store for less than $15.

Full disclosure we know there are still a lot of microplastic pieces falling through the cracks, but we are working on something to tackle that soon. Be sure to follow us to get notified when we post that instructable!


A 5-gallon bucket

A gutter guard

A drill

8 sheet metal screws

A pair of snips (or Dremel)

Step 1: Outline Your Cut & Cut It Out

Gather the materials listed above and let's get to work!

Place the gutter guard across the bottom of the bucket and make 4 marks 1" toward the center from the outside of the guard. Then connect the lines and draw a curved line 1" from the edge to connect the 2 straight lines.

Then take your rotary tool and cut along the lines.

Note: We make the markings 1" from the edge of the guard so when we screw it in from the inside it has something to grab onto. If this step seems confusing, look at the next step to see the guard over the hole.

Step 2: Mark the Gutter Guard & Cut It

Place your guard across the hole you just cut, and mark the curve of the bucket with a permanent marker. Then take either your rotary tool or snips (snips work better in my opinion) and cut along the lines.

Look how the guard in the first photo has about an inch border, this is what I was referencing in the previous step when marking it.

Step 3: Drill Holes Through Bucket

This step is optional (but helpful).

Drill holes along the guard's edge to line up from the inside when attaching the screws later. You can also drill from the inside but I found this to be much easier.

Step 4: Attach Guard to Bucket

Align the holes you just predrilled and attach the screws through the guard and to the bottom of the bucket from the inside. I placed 8 screws per bucket to make sure the guard laid flat on the inside.

Step 5: Grind Down the Bottom of the Screws

Optional step depending on the length of screw you purchased. We had some laying around that were just a little too long, so we decided to cut them down.

Note: if you are cutting them down, leave about 1/8" (3mm) exposed to ensure the bucket has something to grab onto just incase the screws loosen over time.

Step 6: Go to Your Local Beach and Start Cleaning

Find a spot with some trash laying around, and put a couple of good scoops in there.

Note: Don't put too much all at once or else you will slow the sifting process. One or two scoops of sand is a good amount for quick sifting.

Step 7: Move the Bucket Around to Get All of the Sand Out.

Go on, start sifting!

Step 8: Look at What You Collected!

Begin splitting up the pieces of debris you've collected document them then dispose of them appropriately. Your local counties will have information on what can and cannot be recycled.

Feel free to document your findings through the attached excel spreadsheet and submit them to We keep diligent records of all trash and recycling collected, and would love to hear about the results from any cleanups you organize!

I hope you have found this instructable interesting and useful! Let's all make waves and remove waste together!