Imagine this …

You’re living in New Brunswick and you’ve decided to go canoeing down a local river. Soon after you start off, you notice that there is garbage littered along the side of the riverbank. As you continue paddling down the river, you realize that cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic bags, caps and lids, plastic bottles and beverage cans are some of the most common items you see. Amongst them, you also see kitchen sinks, a freezer door, couches, a hospital bed and a fully decorated Christmas tree.

This past year, over 56,000 Canadians signed up for the Vancouver Aquarium’s Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, and delivered in partnership with WWF. Thank you to the thousands of volunteers who came out this September to remove shoreline litter and help ensure the above scenario does not happen. By removing litter from our waterways, you help to create healthy waters for everyone, including the wildlife and communities that depend on them.

We were inspired to see volunteers in every province and territory signed up to clean over 1,650 sites across Canada. Participants removed over 15,237 bags of garbage and recycling from approximately 3,144 km of shoreline, which is equivalent to driving from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Calgary, Alberta—that’s a lot of litter!

In total, over 143,700 kg of shoreline litter was removed; weighing the same as approximately 72 Steller Sea Lions. Some of the more unusual items removed this year are a hospital bed, a fully decorated Christmas tree, a couch, two suitcases full of clothing, a cocktail dress, a bird cage and a kitchen sink.

By removing litter from our shorelines, fewer litter items are present to entangle local birds and aquatic animals. These are the five most common items removed from Canadian waterways this fall:

1)      Cigarettes/Cigarette Filters                                         330,229

2)      Food Wrappers                                                                 101,282

3)      Bags (Plastic)                                                                      65,814

4)      Caps/Lids                                                                             61,669

5)      Beverage Bottles (plastic) 2 litres or less                                38,347

To take part in next year’s Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, visit ShorelineCleanup.ca.Registration for the spring edition, currently open to schools in British Columbia and Ontario, will be opening in January 2012.

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