International Coastal Cleanup Day is an international day of action to protect our oceans, watersheds and wildlife from trash and debris. This massive volunteering effort has an astounding impact on many of our local natural habitats and communities.
It is a global movement that encompasses 6 million volunteers in 90 countries and across the UK. The cumulative result is not only a cleaner and healthier coastline but also a raised consciousness for accessible actions people can integrate into their lives to promote healthy beaches on a daily basis.
Data from the annual Coastal Cleanup Day event points at single-use plastic pollution as a major local and global issue. Cigarette butts, plastic food wrappers, and plastic beverage bottles/caps remain the top items found by Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers. Other common items include plastic bags, plastic straws and stirrers, plastic take-out containers, plastic lids, and foam take-out containers.
Beach cleanups and its importance
Every year thousands of tons of garbage winds up in the oceans, with 60% of that being composed of plastic material. Plastics especially last a very long time in the ocean and are in such abundance that there are 46,000 individual pieces of plastic litter for every square mile of ocean. Our beaches are the bridge between our world and the ocean. Summer weather attracts thousands of visitors to beaches across the world and sometimes visitors bring waste. Beaches are fragile environments. We must be attentive in how we treat these stretches of land.
Nearly 80 percent of pollution in our marine environment comes from the land. It is necessary to keep our beaches clean if we hope to keep our oceans clean. The sand and surf is far more than a place to build sand castles and take a dive. Beaches are home to various creatures from sea lions to sea turtles. Many animals depend on land to survive. Land that is untainted by chemical wastes or human wastes. Marine life, dwelling only in the water, are also affected by waste on beaches. When the tides rise, they collect items on the beach and take the items out when the water lowers, including trash. This can have negative effects on marine life. According to research, trash and plastic pollution affect 100 million marine mammals each year. Animals do not know that a shiny candy wrapper is not meant to be eaten. It can easily be mistaken as a fish or piece of kelp. Trash can cause injury even if it is not ingested, Creatures have been reported having straws stuck in their noses, or head stuck in plastic bottle rings. By keeping the environment trash free we help protect and preserve marine life.
How we can help?
Donation is a great option
Not everyone lives near an ocean to help do the legwork, but a simple donation can do the trick. There are many charities out there doing great work to clean up our coastlines, but as charities they rely on public support, and funding – so if you can’t get out to the coast, you can help from the comfort of your own home.
Clean up litter by yourself
Picking up litter while on a beach vacation is great, but you can also organize your own cleanup in your community if you live near an ocean. First, talk to local politicians and community groups to see if there's an existing ocean cleaning effort in your area. If not, go through those channels to help organize one. This is a great way to call on townspeople in your area—including friends, strangers, and local schools—to help beautify the area and teach positive habits when it comes to maintaining a cleaner ocean.
Cut down your plastic use
There are plenty of reasons to cut down on the plastic you use every day, but if you want to do your part for the ocean, it's doubly important. Once plastic is in our ocean, it’s already damaging the environment. So, let’s start to tackle the problem from the source – if you reduce your plastic use in the first place there’ll be less to enter our oceans.
Do more research
We get that it’s almost impossible to live a life with no impact on the environment, but by taking a bit of time out to research alternative products you can dramatically reduce the amount of waste you produce and the negative impact you have on the coast. By choosing companies with strong environmental policies you can start to reduce your impact.