Coastal Cleanup Day!

Tomorrow, Saturday, September 17, is International Coastal Cleanup Day! Yea! This is an annual event that serves several purposes, the main being the removal of a lot, hopefully most (but probably not), of the junk that thoughtless others throw on the ground the rest of the year. The other purpose is that it gets one outside, in the sunshine and enjoying the day at the beach, while doing a good deed with thousands (791,336 last year!) of other like-minded people.

Image courtesy KQED

Image courtesy KQED

Cleaning the beach is also a great lesson for children, teaching them to respect, rather than trash, the environment.

According to the California Coastal Commission website.

“Every year, on the third Saturday in September, people join together at sites all over California to take part in the State’s largest volunteer event, California Coastal Cleanup Day. In 2015, more than 68,000 volunteers removed nearly 1,143,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from California’s beaches, lakes, and waterways. Families, friends, coworkers, scout troops, school groups, service clubs, and individuals come together to celebrate and share their appreciation of California’s fabulous coast and waterways. The event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by the Ocean Conservancy, which is the largest volunteer event on the planet!

The figures internationally were much higher, 18,062,911 pounds of garbage according to the Ocean Conservancy. Here’s a top ten list of the kinds of garbage collected, including a weird garbage list. Note: for more graphs see Here.

Eighteen million pounds might sound like a lot, but according to studies, it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what’s in the oceans.

An oft-cited 2015 paper in the journal Science estimated that anywhere from 4.8 to 12.7 million metrics tons of plastic waste may have been poured into the ocean in the year 2010 alone. And another recent study suggested that by the year 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean might outweigh the fish, pound for pound.

A lot of this ends up out to sea as part of the absolutely Huge, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and other such patches in other oceans (see this YouTube series on the GPGP). Cruise ships that toss their junk overboard are also culprits. It’s not just the aesthetics of it either; all of this refuse endangers marine wildlife, which eat or get entangled in it.

Out on the trail, litter is major problem as well, as I’ve mentioned in the past, and I sometimes imagine a future as shown in the scifi animation Wall-E. (Sorry, got the scene confused with a similar scene from Idiocracy).

Fortunately, we’re not at that stage yet. So let’s do what we can now. Here’s a map of cleanup locations worldwide.

My daughter and I will be trash picking at our local lake, as nearby water bodies are included. This is in conjunction with her school for credit.

Why not come out tomorrow and join the fun?

And for the rest of us, can we please stop treating the earth like a big garbage can?

More reading? Check out this article about another beach cleanup!


Later Update.

Our lake cleanup was a success! Though we only attacked a smallish area, it was one of the more frequented. There were, I think, 16 of us at the lake, and we found lots of stuff. Old shoes, a plastic flipper, a net on a pole, plus many beer bottles and cans, etc. Here we are ready to start:

And at the end (that’s Carolyn Huddleston, Board Member for EcoSlo, or the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County, which coordinated the event locally).

County-wide here are the stats from EcoSlo:

There were 1,194 volunteers. Those volunteers picked up 5,445.1 pounds of trash, and an additional 1,067.1 pounds of recyclable materials, for a total of 6,512.2 pounds (that’s more than 3 US tons!).


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