Friday, September 20, 2013

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup Celebrates 20 Years of Shoreline Revitalization

Beach on Vancouver Island. Photo by Sue Frause.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is celebrating 20 years of shoreline revitalization. The annual fall cleanup across Canada is September 21-29, 2013. A joint project of the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF-Canada, the Shoreline Cleanup is Canada's largest direct action conservation initiative. More than 42,000 Canadians participate in 1,400+ cleanup sites across the country. 

During its 20-year history, an impressive 500,000 volunteers have participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. That's enough people to fill Vancouver's BC Place or Toronto's Rogers Centre more than nine times. Volunteers have cleaned around 21,775 kilometres of shorelines -- the equivalent to crossing Canada three times between Vancouver, BC and St. John's, NL. And they've collected approximately 1.2 million kilograms of shoreline litter -- about the same weight as 259 school buses. Impressive numbers!

But other numbers are more sobering: In 2012, more than 136,000 kilograms of debris was collected along 3,102 kilometres of shorelines. The major items were:

  • Plastic and paper bags
  • Cigarettes/cigarette filters
  • Food wrappers and containers
  • Caps and lids
  • Glass and plastic beverage bottles
  • Beverage cans
  • Disposable flatware
  • Straws/stirrers
  • Tobacco packaging
  • Building materials
Shoreline litter is a serious environmental issue in Canada and worldwide. It entangles and chokes wildlife, is ingested by wild animals and has a negative impact on water quality and cleanliness.. During last year's cleanup, 45 animals were found entangled, including 22 fish, 10 birds and even a fox. 

To mark Shoreline Cleanup's 20th Anniversary, there are 20 specially designated public shoreline cleanups marked by 20-themed recognitions held in communities across the country. They include Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Edmonton, Prince Rupert, Repulse Bay, Oakville, Stratford, Ucluelet, Whitehorse, Kelowna, Campbell River, Regina, Hamilton, Goderich, Grand-Metis, Winnipeg and St. John's.

To volunteer, register at ShorelineCleanup.ca or stop by any public clean site listed on the website that's still looking for help. The cleanup is presented by Loblaw Companies Limited of Canada.