If you participated in this year’s Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup spring or fall cleanups, you probably know that at the end of each year the top 12 litter items, called the Dirty Dozen, are tallied and reported. This helps us understand which litter items are the most pervasive and problematic on Canada’s shorelines.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, it is the largest direct action conservation initiative in Canada. A collaboration between the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF, this effort mobilizes shoreline cleanups throughout Canada, anywhere where land meets water. This year, spring cleanups in May took place in British Columbia and Ontario by school, youth, and scout groups (over 8,800 registered participants), and the national fall cleanup, Sept. 15-23, took place across the country, and involved over 48,000 registered participants.

Six weeks after this year’s fall Shoreline Cleanup week, we have our Dirty Dozen list for the 2012 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, and have submitted them to the International Coastal Cleanup, of which Shoreline Cleanup is a participant.

Here is this year’s Dirty Dozen List:

Item

# of Items Collected

1. Cigarettes/Cigarette   Filters

416,955

2. Food   Wrappers

98,835

3. Bags   (Plastic)

69,790

4. Caps/Lids

69,725

5. Beverage   Bottles (plastic) 2 liter or less

38,202

6. Beverage   Cans

37,210

7. Cups,   plates, etc

34,458

8. Straws/Stirrers

32,338

9. Beverage   Bottles (glass)

29,198

10. Bags   (Paper)

28,315

11. Tobacco   Packaging

16,997

12. Building   Materials

16,280

 

It’s no surprise that cigarette butts, food wrappers and containers and plastic bags still hold the top three spots on our dirty dozen list, but it’s been years since any item has beat out cigar tips from this list of the most commonly found items from our shorelines. In 2008, it was rope, and this year it’s building materials. Who could have guessed?

Site coordinators estimated that over 16,000 bags of garbage and recycling were removed from our shorelines, equaling 136,036 kg – the approximate weight of ten school buses.

If we lined up the distances of all the shorelines cleaned end to end during this fall’s cleanup, it would total 3,102 km, almost equal to the driving distance between Toronto and the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, or the distance of 75.5 marathons.

A huge thank you goes out to the thousands of people who participated in the 19th annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup as a site coordinator or cleanup participant. Thank you for helping keep our waters healthy for everyone, including the wildlife and communities that depend on them. To learn more about Shoreline Cleanup, visit our website.

Last, but definitely not least is a new video recapping this year’s fall cleanup week:

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