Volunteers are showing love for their shorelines in record-breaking numbers this year by taking action and leading a  cleanup. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is seeing the highest number of cleanups on record for the 26th year of the program. So far, more than 2,600 cleanups have taken place, organized by workplace teams, schools, youth, community groups and concerned citizens. There are still three months left in the year to join and take action for your local waterway.

Shoreline litter contributes greatly to ocean pollution. Using the data collected by volunteer citizen scientists on their cleanups, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup compiles a “Dirty Dozen” list every year, drawing attention to the most frequently found items on Canada’s shorelines, whether near traditional shorelines or storm drains. Litter items on the list usually include single-use plastic items such as straws, cup lids and bags. If they wind up in bodies of water, these items may choke and entangle marine mammals, be consumed by birds, or get worn down over time into microplastics, which are consumed by zooplankton and make their way up the food chain.

Using litter data cards, volunteers collect information on the types and amounts of litter found. This data is shared with researchers, media and municipalities.

“We are enormously proud that this program is now more than a quarter of a century old, and it keeps attracting new volunteers,” said Lasse Gustavsson, president and CEO of Ocean Wise. “The most important aspect of it is that it’s fuelled by citizen action. Not only are volunteers out there making a difference, they’re also informing themselves about the kinds of pollution that we should all avoid creating to ensure that our communal legacy is healthy lakes, rivers and oceans.”

The Shoreline Cleanup also had one of its most successful International Coastal Cleanup Day events to date. On September 21st, recognizing International Coastal Cleanup Day, the program hosted cleanups with program sponsors and conservation partners Ocean Wise and World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF), in four locations across Canada: Richmond, BC, Toronto, ON, Montreal, QC and Halifax, NS. More than 700 hardworking volunteers scoured shorelines in search of litter.

During the Richmond cleanup, an event co-hosted by Vancouver Airport Authority, some 415 volunteers collected 635 kg of garbage. This year, Toronto’s 200-strong volunteers gathered more than 245 kg of trash and 99 bags full of unwanted shoreline litter. In Montreal, 60 industrious helpers gathered 144 kg of trash. Meanwhile, in Halifax, 80 people brought in 270 kg of detritus.

More than 700 volunteers attended the celebration events across Canada, including 415 volunteers at the cleanup in Richmond, BC.

Interest in ocean conservation is at an all-time high, with young activists around the globe now expressing huge concerns about climate change and its effects. Join in the national network of volunteers making a difference on their local waterways, lead or join a shoreline cleanup. Shoreline Cleanups can take place anytime of the year, anywhere that land connects to water. You can register to lead a cleanup at ShorelineCleanup.ca.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited and Coca-Cola Canada, is one of the largest direct action conservation programs in Canada. A conservation partnership of Ocean Wise 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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