It all started 18 years ago in Stanley Park, when a small group of staff and volunteers from the Vancouver Aquarium decided to conduct a local shoreline cleanup to help avoid garbage from entering the ocean.
Since 1994, over 300,000 volunteers from various communities have picked up over one million kilograms of litter along shorelines as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, an annual event to help prevent unwanted material from reaching seas. On Saturday, September 17, the WWF-Canada Prince Rupert office coordinated a shoreline cleanup at Hays Creek, that was presented by Loblaws.
“[There are a number of reason why the shoreline cleanup is important] including local stewardship and that it makes people being aware of their personal actions and the consequences of them,” said Mike Ambach from World Wildlife Fund in Prince Rupert, who was the site coordinator of this year’s cleanup.
“What we put through the water systems; the creeks, oceans, etc, doesn’t just stay in one spot, it goes out into the ocean and becomes a global issue.”
Like previous years, prior to volunteers picking up trash they are given a list of common found items such as cigarette butts, beverage cans, etc, so that participants could mark down the amount of each type of waste. This is done for the sake of data, so that organizers can see what items are littered most. Last year, because of Shoreline Cleanups held across the country, approximately 227,830 cigarette filters alone were prevented from becoming ocean bound, as well as preventing approximately 83,660 food wrappers and containers, and 55,880 plastic bags from finding their way to the sea.
“It’s all the small stuff,” commented Ambach.
Unlike previous years, the seventh annual local Shoreline Cleanup took place around Hays Creek instead of at the Waterfront.
“We just decided to move the clean-up around for diversity sake. It allows [people to see] the important connection that fresh water does lead to the ocean. Hopefully in future years we can move the cleanup around more,” explained Ambach
Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanups held across Canada are one of country’s largest contributors to the International Coastal Shoreline Cleanup, a global effort to help eliminate harmful litter and aquatic debris from shorelines.