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Ever since I was young I have had an affinity for animals. Five years ago, I made the decision to live a life that helped protect all animals on this planet that are impacted by our daily lifestyle choices.

On a recent trip to Thailand, I saw vast amounts of unrecycled plastic and litter scattered throughout the streets and beaches. When I got home, I began looking into this problem in my own backyard. I was shocked to discover the amount of trash we had sitting on our shoreline at a nearby beach in Tsawwassen B.C. I found countless amounts of soft and hard plastics, bottles and cans, fishing nets and rope, cigarette butts, food and beverage wrappers and containers.

It was heartbreaking to discover the deadly impact litter has on wildlife. I began looking into ways to help wildlife that are suffering from the litter invading their habitats and discovered the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. It has been a great tool to help map out my People for the Planet cleanup locations and keep track of what was collected.

People for the Planet is a new community project that started from my passion for wildlife and the environment they live in. Our goal is to inspire people in our community to be leaders by cleaning up the streets, parks, neighbourhoods, trails, beaches and anywhere else litter is present.

Geared up to clean up! Ashley took the lead to collect litter off Tsawassen shoreline.

I am enrolling my friends, family, and community to do what they can to contribute to the well-being of wildlife and our earth by being People for the Planet. They can do this by:

  • Observing their consumer habits (i.e. are they using reusable produce and shopping bags?)
  • Observing their disposal habits. Are they recycling and composting items correctly? (i.e. removing stickers from foods before composting them; ensuring the proper plastics are being put in the correct bins). Do they have other household items that could be recycled outside of their municipal recycling programs? (i.e. lightbulbs, batteries, overwrap, etc.).
  • Joining in to help clean their communities of litter. In a group or on their own, they can incorporate environmental mindfulness on a daily basis simply by picking up harmful litter items (i.e. plastic 6-pack rings) when spotted, or while walking their dog.

The biggest challenge in this new project has been getting more participants involved; part of it is answering the “how helpful is my contribution” question that goes through many people’s mind. The more people that get on board and commit to being people for the planet, the greater progress and outcomes we will see.

Since May, I have completed four beach cleanups around the lower mainland. Join in! Find one of our upcoming cleanups on the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup website, just search the Join a Cleanup map: http://shorelinecleanup.ca/cleanups.

Aquablog post by Ashley Mitton, Site Coordinator with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, and organizer with People for the Planet community project.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, is one of the largest direct action conservation programs in Canada. A conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF-Canada, the Shoreline Cleanup aims to promote understanding of shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians to rehabilitate shoreline areas through cleanups. www.ShorelineCleanup.ca

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