Celebrating 20 years this fall, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is calling on Canadians to sign up now at ShorelineCleanup.ca as site coordinators or participants for this fall’s cleanup, taking place Sept. 21-29.
The Shoreline Cleanup, a conservation initiative of Vancouver Aquarium and the World Wildlife Federation, is Canada’s largest direct-action conservation initiative, mobilizing participants throughout the country to remove litter from its shorelines – anywhere where land meets water.
“Throughout its 20-year history, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup has enlisted half a million Canadians to collect approximately 1.2 million kilograms of shoreline litter – the approximate weight of 259 school buses,” says Jill Dwyer, program manager for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. “Although these figures represent great accomplishments, they also indicate that there is much more work left to do, and many more volunteers required to stem the tide of shoreline litter.”
Shoreline litter is a serious environmental issue in Canada – and worldwide. Its effects are far-reaching – from entangling and choking wildlife, to being ingested by wild animals, to negatively impacting water quality and cleanliness. For example, during last year’s cleanup effort, 45 animals were found entangled, including 22 fish, ten birds (including gulls, swans, and heron), and even a fox. Shoreline litter can also pose safety risks to humans, and cause disruptions or imbalances within the local ecosystem.
To address this issue head-on, the goal of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup this year is to enlist 64,000 site coordinators and volunteers to participate, an unprecedented goal for the program. Last year, Shoreline Cleanup collected 136,000-plus kilograms of shoreline litter, reflecting the high level of need for more help this year.
Site coordinators will be assigned to catalogue which litter items will be collected in the highest numbers on Canada’s shorelines. Last year, the biggest culprits were cigarettes and cigarette filters (nearly 417,000 items collected), food wrappers/containers (nearly 99,000 items collected), and plastic bags (nearly 70,000 items collected). These items landed the top spots on Shoreline Cleanup’s 2012 “Dirty Dozen” list, along with caps/lids, beverage bottles/cans, food serving ware, straws/stirrers, paper bags, tobacco packaging and building materials.