Seeing the amount of litter on shorelines can have an impact on those who take part in a Shoreline Cleanup. After doing one cleanup event, many volunteers want to do something more to help. So what do you do after your cleanup event is over?

This month we highlight Site Coordinators who show us how they have taken extra steps in protecting their local shoreline. First we shared the inspiring story of Peter Williams, and his month long shoreline cleanup. This week, we bring you the story of Chris Baker, and his impressive efforts in reaching out to his local government to find solutions for shoreline litter.

Chris Baker

Farrans Point Dike – Waterfront Trail, O.N.

 Why do you take part in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup?

I regularly see the extent of the shoreline waste problem and know that active remediation is as big a part of the solution as mitigation at the source. I know every piece of plastic collected translates to a contribution to a cleaner and healthier world.

How long have you been involved in the program?

I officially became involved in 2014. Prior to this, while in B.C. I did some regular shoreline cleanups along the Fraser River near Yale. Numerous sites were frequented by fishers from the lower mainland during the salmon runs and unfortunately, as a group, they regularly left a wake of waste when they departed. I knew many of the members of the resident First Nation, including the chief and other administrators, and had their blessing to do the cleanup work on reserve land as well.

In his 2014 Shoreline Cleanup, Chris collected many items including 60 water bottles and 27 paper cups.

In his 2014 Shoreline Cleanup, Chris collected many items including 60 water bottles and 27 paper cups.

Where do you clean up?  

I clean up along the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River, the drainage for the Great Lakes Watershed.

What inspired you to take extra steps to protect your shoreline?

When I returned to Ontario in 2012, I was overwhelmed by the amount of waste I regularly encountered along the Provincial Waterfront trail throughout the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, along the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River and Lake St. Lawrence. As I became familiar with the regional shoreline, approximately 45 linear kilometers, it became clear that the problem was extensive. In 2013 and 2014 I personally collected six cubic meters of waste, often in my canoe, a mere drop from what is a constant stream moving down the river from the Great Lakes Basin and what is being left by parks visitors.

The HMS WasteKnot, Chris’ beautiful hand-built canoe he uses to collect litter along the St. Lawrence.

The HMS WasteKnot, Chris’ beautiful hand-built canoe he uses to collect litter along the St. Lawrence.

What steps have you taken to protect your shoreline?

In 2013, I made contact with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC) facilities manager, who expressed concern when I provided data and photographs of the volume and composition of waste I was regularly collecting. Presently, I am happy to report that I have completed a parks-sanctioned waste audit compliant with Ministry of Environment requirements, including the required management process review. The SLPC has the audit and has indicated that review and response will be forthcoming.

What’s the strangest item you’ve found?

It is actually a collection of items; due to the regulation of the water level in my watershed, many small landfills are being created in the small wetland inlets along the shoreline.  High water and wind deposit waste in these areas, subsequent vegetation growth and detritus contribute to burying. These areas accumulate waste over time and develop a stratigraphy not unlike a landfill.

Shoreline Cleanups can lead to greater results towards the ongoing health of shorelines. Register a shoreline cleanup in the New Year and support your local environment; registration opens March 2016 at shorelinecleanup.ca.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a joint conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF-Canada, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited and supported by Ricoh Canada. You can take a stand against shoreline litter in your community by signing up for a cleanup in your neighbourhood today.

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