By Hank Jones, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup Site Coordinator

It’s time again for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup! We have enjoyed our shorelines for another summer. Now it’s time to get ready for this fall’s cleanup, taking place Sept. 15-23.

Our section of the Constance Bay shoreline in Ontario is mostly well-used sand beaches along the mighty Ottawa River. Our litter mostly consists of small plastic picnic items: food wrappers, bags, filters, cups, plates, along with some glass and other items (jewelry and artifacts).

The beaches are wide, so the litter tends to spread out. With almost 16 km of shoreline to scout, this means we will have to cover a big area in the half day we have for our official cleanup. This will be our third cleanup and we’re hoping to attract enough people to get the whole job done!


Participants during a a previous Shoreline Cleanup at Constance Bay bring bags of small plastic and their data sheet. Photo credit: Hank Jones.

I worry about our litter making its way to those bigger-than-most-countries Great Garbage Patches we have unwittingly created in our Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Our Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup aims to reduce Canada’s “contribution.”

In its travels seaward, the plastic is ground down to a microplastic slurry (a grain of rice or smaller) that chokes filter feeders, such as our mussels and clams, and plankton feeders near the bottom of the food chain. This jeopardizes the whole food chain. This substance is being augmented by synthetic fibres laundered from our clothing. And it is now found on our shorelines, beaches, in the water column and accumulating in our ocean gyres.

How do we stop it? The best way would be to refuse, reuse and recycle plastic. We all can do some of this. Next best option is to pick up plastic and put it into the recycler. Since it travels by river, and has to cross the shoreline to get into the water, we need to clean up our shorelines. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is the perfect opportunity!

Thanks to the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF, it is now easier than ever to organize an effective shoreline cleanup anywhere in Canada. There are almost 2,000 cleanups each year already, but thousands of more sites need attention. So please organize your own!

Our ‘citizen science’ stewardship cleanups are fun-tastic for families and all ages. If you live in my Constance Bay, Ontario region, join us by signing up here. If you are in another part of our great country, visit the Great Canadian Shoreline website to sign up for your own cleanup. Don’t wait. Sign-up today. See you on the shoreline!


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