EAST BAY — The beach crowds may have thinned out this month, but they’ll be crowded this Saturday. That’s when thousands of individuals, groups and families come with work gloves and trash bags to participate in one of the largest global volunteer events, the International Coastal Cleanup.
Organized internationally by the Ocean Conservancy and locally by The Audubon Society of Rhode Island, volunteers not only clean up the trash that litters our shores but also document what they find, tallying each piece of trash picked up. This data is published in an annual report that draws attention to marine debris and provides background for policy decisions that address the problem at its source.
“Trash is one of the most widespread pollution problems threatening our ocean and waterways, yet it’s entirely preventable,” said Lawrence Taft, Audubon’s executive director. “The International Coastal Cleanup provides a chance to do something about it. Volunteers not only clean the beaches, they raise awareness of the issue and inspire others to take care of the ocean.”
International Coastal Cleanup is the world’s largest volunteer effort to help protect the ocean, lakes and rivers. Ocean Conservancy uses the data collected on the cleanup to produce an annual country-by-country, state-by-state index of the problem of marine debris.
Some recent statistics help put the trash problem in perspective:
• During the 2011 Cleanup, volunteers found 24,384 light bulbs — enough to replace every light on the Eiffel Tower.
• Volunteers found 940,227 items of food packaging in 2011 — enough to get takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the next 858 years.
• In Rhode Island, there were 5,409 glass bottles collected in 2011 — enough to provide a drink for every resident of Jamestown.
• In the history of the Cleanup, more than 9 million people have collected 144 million pounds of trash in 152 countries.
“Every volunteer makes a difference, so we encourage people to sign up for one of our public cleanups,” said July Lewis, Audubon’s volunteer coordinator. “We also have a few sites that still need a leader. Please contact us if you or your group would like to organize a cleanup of your own. In our last cleanup, over 2,000 volunteers removed more than 25,000 pounds of trash from the Rhode Island shore.”
Here’s a list of where you can go locally from 9 a.m. to noon (unless otherwise specified) on Saturday to help clean up the shoreline:
Barrington Town Beach — Bring gloves and meet at the parking lot at the end of Bay Road. This cleanup will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Contact Bill and Deb Dwyer at 401/245-2684 or [email protected] for details.
• Colt State Park — Join REI for a cleanup of the park.
• Pebble Beach, Ferry Road — Meet at the southern end of Bristol Ferry Road under the Mt. Hope Bridge at noon and join Roger Williams University students, faculty and staff and the RWU’s Feinstein Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement. Parking is available in the second lot on the right. The group will gather at the opening at the stone wall, within site of the parking lot. Call 401/254-3787 for more information.
South Shore Beach — Contact cleanup leader Sandra Farr at 401/635-8640 or [email protected] for more information.
• Common Fence Point — Contact cleanup leader Mil Kinsella at 401/633-2606 or [email protected]
• McCorrie Point — Contact cleanup leader Dan Reilly at 401/643-1770 or [email protected]
• Prudence Island — Contact Catherine Fillo at [email protected] or 719/310-2795 for more information. This cleanup is held from 8 a.m. to noon. Volunteers coming from the mainland can take the 8 a.m. ferry from Bristol and meet organizers at the Prudence Island Ferry dock at 8:30 a.m. Catch a return ferry at 10:30 a.m. or 4 p.m. Wear sturdy shoes.
Sign up for a cleanup at Grinnell’s Beach, Fogland Point or other sites along the Tiverton shore. Contact Alita Marks at 401/624-6031 or [email protected] for more information.
For more information about local beach cleanups, contact July Lewis at 401/949-5454, ext. 3044 or [email protected]
International Coastal Cleanup
WHERE: Throughout Rhode Island
WHEN: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 15 (some cleanups may have their own times)
MORE INFO: 401/949-5454, ext. 3044; www.signuptocleanup.org