Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beach Cleanup

Today was International Beach Cleanup day!  The Ocean Conservatory manages the world's largest shoreline cleanup every September 25th.  How does this affect a midwesterner?  Simple- the Alliance for the Great Lakes partners with the Ocean Conservancy through the Adopt a Beach program.  OK, maybe that didn't sound so simple.  Basically, all you do is web-search for Adopt a Beach, and choose a beach clean-up event near you!  The Great Lakes are one of our most beautiful national treasures.  Not to mention an important source of drinking water and economy.  Balancing all the demands on these limited resources can be difficult, particularly since we share each lake with Canada too!  

It's great to be able to do a small task on your own or with a group to help ease the burden on the Great Lakes.  When individuals do small tasks in a concentrated effort, the results really start to pile up!  Hence the idea behind the International Coastal Cleanup Day.

I personally signed up through the Adopt a Beach website as an individual. It turns out that the event I signed up for was coordinated through a local community group,  What a great group! They organize volunteer activities as well as social events for families to participate in!  Want your kid to grow up recognizing the importance of community involvement- what better way than this!  

Since there were 12 of us, we were able to clean 1/3 mile of beach, collect 4 garbage bags and 3 bags of recycling, adding up to 35.5 pounds of refuse in just under 2 hours!  I was impressed, as this beach already looked fairly clean, and had a lot of garbage cans on the premises.  

It really showed me just how important group efforts can be.  This is my first time participating in this event, so I was surprised to see how quantitative it was- there were forms to be filled out detailing what type and how much trash we were collecting.  I assume that the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and/or the Ocean Conservancy will be tallying up the results to show us how much everyone participating across the world was able to collect today.  I eagerly await the results!

This was also a great example of why reducing our consumption, and reusing things as much as possible before throwing them away is so important.  A lot of the items collected were one-time consumables.  If we all make an effort to reduce the waste stream from the beginning (ie not buying as much STUFF, or at least buying stuff with less packaging), then ultimately there would be less garbage on the beaches requiring clean-up.