Beautifying Our Special Places

by Dave on September 23, 2010

photo courtesy Kevin Fleming, WildDelmarva.com

Making our beautiful beaches even more beautiful. That is the point of the Coastal Cleanup, a once-a-year event that takes place this Saturday all over the globe including spots up and down the Delaware coastline.

According to the Ocean Conservancy, originators of the event, thousands of sites will participate in this year’s event.

“Hundreds of thousands of volunteers from countries all over the world spend a day picking up everything from cigarette butts and food wrappers to lost fishing nets and major appliances,” says the Ocean Conservancy web site. “Because trash travels to the ocean by way of storm drains and waterways, they don’t just work along ocean beaches; these dedicated folks slog through mud and sand along lakes, streams, and rivers, too, often working far inland.

“Many walk, while others set out on boats. Thousands more don scuba gear to seek trash below the water’s surface. People of all ages, from any walk of life, can participate. Friends, families, neighbors, club members, grade school classes—all kinds of people turn out on one day to work together in spirit across many time zones.”

The state Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control organizes the event in Delaware.

“We have sites the whole length of Delaware, from 7th Street Park in Wilmington all the way to Fenwick Island,” says Joanna Wilson of DNREC. “But we also have some interesting smaller places, including Beach Plum Island, Fowler Beach, and places like Holt’s Landing State Park on the bay.”

The event has an impact, she says, not only with the amount of trash collected, but with the awareness created.

“We want to make people aware that trash on the beach is a problem,” adds Wilson. “We also want to get the community involved in making our beautiful beaches more beautiful. It’s a great opportunity to involve children in the process, too.”

While the trash problem is not currently growing, the current levels are serious.

“Our trash levels – 9.6 tons last year – have remained steady,” informs Wilson. “Beaches have less overall trash, but more things like cigarette butts. Plastic drink bottles are everywhere. We had thousands of them picked up last year. That’s one of the big messages that we have.”

And it’s not all cigarettes and bottles. Strange discoveries are not uncommon at the Coastal Cleanup.

“We’ve had everything from bowling balls to hockey sticks to last year, when we found two grills, one gas and one charcoal,” adds Wilson.

The event has been promoted by the state, but also by other organizations. For instance, Pile Magazine has joined with Dewey Beach’s Alley Oop Skim and Harvest Skimboards to draw skim enthusiasts to the Dewey cleanup site.

Interested people can visit DNREC’s web site at DNREC.Delaware.gov and register for the event.

“They can also just show up,” says Wilson. “Visit the site to find the map. The sign-up is to make sure that we have enough supplies – gloves and trash bags – for the people who come. We also try to give all volunteers a free t-shirt, while supplies last.”

The Coastal Cleanup is a great way to spend a Saturday, leaving the beaches better than you found them. Enjoy.

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