Calling all Coasters who care about their shorelines: the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is coming Sept. 21 to 29.
The annual cleanup has been going on for 20 years now and each year it sees tens of thousands of Canadians volunteer to pick up garbage from their local shorelines.
“When we say shoreline we mean anywhere land meets water — a lake, a river, a stream or along the ocean,” said Jill Dwyer, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, noting most people associate the cleanup with the ocean, likely because the effort started in Vancouver; however, it has now stretched across Canada.
There are currently four public shoreline sites registered for cleanup on the Coast: Hopkins Landing (Sept. 21 at 10 a.m.), Lily Creek and estuary (Sept. 23 at 3 p.m.), West Sechelt beach (Sept. 22 at 11 a.m.) and Pebble beach (Sept. 28 at 10 a.m.).
Volunteers can sign up to help clean one of those sites or register one of their own online at www.shorelinecleanup.ca or by calling 1-877-427-2422.
“They can actually use our submit-a-site tool and add it to our map and that’s how we actually got all of our cleanup sites to begin with,” Dwyer said. “So it’s pretty unlimited as far as the number of sites.”
“It is really easy to register on-line, but if they need help we can do an on-line registration for them over the phone,” Dwyer said.
Participants are asked to dress for the weather because cleanups will happen rain or shine, and to bring a pair of work gloves.
Throughout the 20-year-history of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, about a half million Canadians have helped collect more than 1.2 million kg of shoreline litter.
“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,” Dwyer said.
Shoreline litter can entangle and choke wildlife or be ingested by wild animals, and it negatively impacts water quality, making it a serious concern worldwide.
The most common form of litter found on shorelines continues to be cigarette butts and food wrappers. Last year there were 217,822 cigarette butts picked up from British Columbian shorelines and 41,439 food wrappers and containers. The most odd items pulled from B.C.’s shorelines last year included a bathtub, a cash register, a dishwasher, a gargoyle statue and a plastic eyeball.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and the World Wildlife Federation, funded through Loblaw Companies Ltd.