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Since 1994, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup has been a part of the International Coastal Cleanup, a global effort to remove harmful litter and aquatic debris from shorelines.

Last fall, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a joint collaboration between the Vancouver Aquarium and World Wildlife Federation and presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, was a proud part of the 2011 International Coastal Cleanup, a global initiative to clean up the world’s shorelines. Results from last year’s global effort have just been released, demonstrating that once again, the most common items found on international shorelines last year were also commonly found along Canadian shorelines during the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

Here are some interesting facts, based on a side-by-side view of the results from both the 2011 International Coastal Cleanup and the 2011 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup:

  • Last year, more than four million kg of debris were collected internationally – the approximate weight of 2007 Steller sea lions. In Canada, more than 143,700 kg of litter was collected – the approximate weight of 72 Steller sea lions.
  • Last year, the top five items found along both international and Canadian shorelines were the same, and included: food wrappers and containers, caps and lids, cigarette filters, plastic bags, and beverage bottles.
  • Globally, enough food packaging and containers (940,277 pieces) were retrieved last year from international shorelines for one person to get takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the next 858 years. Along Canadian shorelines, that statistic was 110,018 pieces of food packaging and containers – enough for one person to get takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the next 100 years.
  •  Last year, nearly two million cigarettes and cigarette filters were collected internationally – enough, when placed tip to tip, to span the length of nearly 1,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. In Canada, more than 350,000 cigarettes and cigarette filters were collected – enough, when placed tip to tip, to span the length of approximately 17 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Trash and debris pose one of the biggest challenges to our oceans and waterways. Although we can’t always prevent debris resulting from tragic natural disasters such as the tsunami in Japan (for example, just this past weekend, an abandoned Japanese fishing boat was found floating off the coast of B.C.), it is important to remember that we can do something about ocean trash and debris. Participating in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is one significant way you can contribute helping to make ocean life more resilient – now and for generations to come.

More results from the 2011 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup are available at ShorelineCleanup.ca, and additional results from the 2011 International Coastal Cleanup can be found on the Ocean Conservancy’s website.

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