When the Hanjin Shipping container spilled in British Columbia’s Juan De Fuca Strait in November 2016, many remote shorelines were affected. Surfrider Pacific Rim, the Vancouver Island chapter of an international organization devoted to cleaning and protecting shorelines, took action. Since June 2017, they spent 15 days and 11 trips removing debris from five islands and four remote beaches throughout Clayoquot and Barkley Sound.
Through volunteer dedication and passionate partners, they made an incredible impact. Lilly Woodbury, Chapter Manager for Surfrider Pacific Rim, and Site Coordinator for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, wrote up five lessons the cleanup learned from clearing remote shorelines.
1) Use cleanup data to influence new behaviour.
On our remote cleanups we found a shocking amount of plastic. This summer, we collected tens of thousands of bottles, from drink bottles to detergent. We are using this data in our Ocean Friendly Business Campaign. This campaign works with local businesses to help eliminate single-use plastics from their operations, implement progressive recycling practices and create more sustainable business practices.
2) Use cleanup data to influence policy.
Currently there is no policy in place to protect the west coast of Canada from accidents like the Hanjin Shipping Container spill. The cleanup burden then falls on municipalities and volunteer groups who don’t always have the capacity to deal with emergencies. We will be using our cleanup data to influence policy makers and put in place new solutions.
3) Support community businesses!
If you’re looking to buy food, supplies or services for your cleanup, partner with local businesses. This strengthens partnerships between communities. We relied on local businesses like Earth Mama Love Kitchen, to supply local and organic foods, and local First Nation’s communities, like Ahousaht First Nation for all boat transportation.
4) Support zero-waste cleanups.
We do our best to avoid generating plastic waste in daily life and we share this ethic with our volunteers, too. We re-use plastic bags and super sacs (generously donated by Lush Cosmetics) to collect debris. Even the debris collected is zero waste! This year, we are working with Ocean Legacy Foundation in Vancouver to recycle material collected through their Marine Debris Intake Centre. They are diverting 90% of cleanup debris from landfill.
5) Keep cleanups positive, inspiring and respectful.
When travelling to remote areas, many volunteers expect the landscape to be pristine. It’s shocking and disheartening to discover how much debris is piling up and impacting remote shorelines. Surfrider worked hard to make the experience fun and inspiring through yoga, discussion, and lots of laughter. We also ensure volunteers respect the land by leaving no trace, and we do not take anything that is not foreign debris.
We all have a responsibility to manage waste responsibly and steward our surroundings. These five tips can help elevate your next remote shoreline clean.
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. Find out more at www.shorelinecleanup.ca.