The 25th annual International Coastal Cleanup is scheduled for this Saturday, September 25.
The yearly event, sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, is the oldest running clean-up of its kind. It started with a beach clean-up in Texas back in 1986, when 2,800 Texans picked up 124 tons of trash along 122 miles of coastline in two hours.
Twenty-five years later, nearly half-a-million volunteers in 100 countries across the world spend the day picking up trash along beaches, streams, lakes, and rivers. Each piece of trash is recorded and precise data is collected and published, helping to identify the type and sources of the debris. Knowing what’s there and where it’s coming from will, according to the Ocean Conservancy, enhance efforts to find solutions to the global problem of trash in oceans and waterways, and help change the policies and behaviors contributing to it.
In 2009, 60 percent of the trash collected and cataloged consisted of single-use, disposable items. Volunteers picked up 1.1 million plastic bags and more than a million beverage bottles from beaches, shorelines, and underwater in just one day, and enough plastic cups, plates, knives, forks, and spoons for a picnic for 100,000 people.
Here in Minnesota, the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth sponsors the Minnesota Beach Sweep in conjunction with the International Coastal Cleanup. Clean-ups are scheduled for several beaches in the Duluth area this Saturday, and for Burlington Beach in Two Harbors.
The local non-profit Harbor Friends has sponsored fall beach clean-ups in the Grand Marais area in past years, but the organization has not come forward this year and there are no events scheduled.
More information about the Minnesota Beach Sweep is available on the Great Lakes Aquarium
website. For more information about the Ocean Conservancy and the International Coastal Cleanup, go to oceanconservancy.org