In September, the beach crowds will begin to thin out as temperatures drop and school starts up again. But soon, another crowd will return–thousands of individuals, groups and families coming with work gloves and trash bags to participate in one of the largest global volunteer events: the International Coastal Cleanup. The Audubon Society of Rhode Island invites volunteers to head to the shore on September 15 to participate.
Organized internationally by the Ocean Conservancy and locally by Audubon, volunteers not only clean up the trash that litters our shores, but also document what they find, tallying each piece of trash picked up. This data is published in an annual report that draws attention to marine debris and provides background for policy decisions that address the problem at its source.
“Trash is one of the most widespread pollution problems threatening our ocean and waterways — yet it’s entirely preventable,” said Lawrence Taft, Audubon’s Executive Director. “The International Coastal Cleanup provides a chance to do something about it. Volunteers not only clean the beaches, they raise awareness of the issue and inspire others to take care of the ocean.”
International Coastal Cleanup is the world’s largest volunteer effort to help protect our ocean, lakes and rivers. Ocean Conservancy uses the data collected on the cleanup to produce an annual country-by-country, state-by-state index of the problem of marine debris. Audubon Society of Rhode Island has led the International Coastal Cleanup for Rhode Island since 1985.
The amount of trash picked up by volunteers around the world is hard to fathom. Some statistics help put it in perspective and make it more concrete for kids:
- During the 2011 Cleanup, volunteers found enough light bulbs (24,384 bulbs) to replace every light on the Eiffel Tower.
- Volunteers found 940,227 items of food packaging in 2011–enough to get takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the next 858 years.
- In Rhode Island, there were 5,409 glass bottles collected in 2011–enough to provide a drink for every resident of Jamestown.
- In the history of the Cleanup, more than 9 million people have collected 144 million pounds of trash in 152 countries.
“Every volunteer makes a difference, so we encourage people to sign up for one of our public cleanups,” adds July Lewis, Audubon’s Volunteer Coordinator. “We also have a few sites that still need a leader. Please contact us if you or your group would like to organize a cleanup of your own.Â In our last cleanup, over 2000 volunteers removed more than 25,000 pounds of trash from the Rhode Island shore–we can make a difference!”
The 2012 International Coastal Cleanup in Rhode Island is sponsored by Amgen, Dunkin Donuts, The Ocean Conservancy, REI, and Washington Trust.