You may already be aware that each year, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, mobilizes volunteers throughout Canada to clean our nation’s shorelines – anywhere where land meets water. But this effort, a partnership between Vancouver Aquarium and WWF, is actually part of a larger, global initiative called the International Coastal Cleanup, led by the Ocean Conservancy.

The Ocean Conservancy released some staggering figures this week regarding the amount of marine debris collected during last year’s International Coastal Cleanup – 10 million pounds (or more than 4.5 million kilograms) to be exact, which weighs approximately as much as ten Boeing 747 jumbo jets. This figure represents the third-highest amount of shoreline litter collected during the cleanup’s 27-year history.

Worldwide, the 2012 International Coastal Cleanup garnered more than 550,000 people who picked up litter along nearly 20,000 miles of shorelines. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup made a meaningful contribution to this global effort, with Canadians cleaning 3,102 kilmetres of shoreline – the equivalent distance between Vancouver, B.C. and Thunder Bay, O.N.

Although the numbers are a testament to the amazing work of these participants, they are also a sober reflection of how much work there is left to do to clean up our shorelines and waterways. Shoreline litter negatively impacts wildlife and communities, and its effect is far-reaching, but the good news is that there is tangible action you can take to combat this issue in your community.

This year’s Shoreline Cleanup is taking place from Sept. 21-29, and registering is as easy as visiting Be part of the solution by signing up as a site coordinator or participant of this important effort.

For the Ocean Conservancy’s full report of the 2012 International Coastal Cleanup, visit here.

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