(NC) — What do food wrappers, fishing line, a taxidermy wiener dog, duck photos, bottle caps and a toy dinosaur have in common? They are all things left on Canadian shorelines, and they are all things that originated from people.
In 2014, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF-Canada’s Great Canadian Shoreline cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, removed more than 139,000 kilograms of litter from shorelines across Canada, equivalent to filling roughly 70 dump trucks. From the usual cigarette butts, bottle caps and plastic bags to the unusual drone, monocle and duck decoy, the message comes through loud and clear: the damaged state of our shorelines is the result of human activities and behaviour.
The most common type of litter found littering our shorelines were single use food and beverage items, like plastic bottles, food wrappers, straws, plates and forks, accounting for just over 35 per cent of all the items removed from shorelines. Smoking related items came in a close second at 34 per cent and 21 per cent of all items removed were unidentifiable broken plastic, glass and foam pieces smaller than 2.5 centimetres in diameter.
“Through shoreline cleanups, volunteers are better able to understand that everything we do has an impact,” says Kate Le Souef, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. “This litter is a result of human actions, so it’s up to us to do something.”
Even though shoreline cleanups typically last just a couple hours each, altogether the 1,880 cleanups in 2014 netted more than one million pieces of litter from saltwater and freshwater shorelines across Canada.
If you would like to be a site coordinator, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is looking for people to champion their local waterfronts by registering online at ShorelineCleanup.ca.
“Site coordinators are key to our program,” Le Souef points out. “They organize the event at any location they choose at any time that works for them – and they help us by documenting what they find.”
If you’d like to know the most frequent finds, here from the cleanups during 2014, are the Dirty Dozen:
1. Cigarette Butts 329,562
2. Food Wrappers 75,768
3. Bottle Caps (Plastic) 37,994
4. Beverage Bottles (Plastic) 35,482
5. Beverage Cans 27,500
6. Other Plastic/Foam 24,994
7. Straws/Stirrers 24,482
8. Other Plastic Bags 23,296
9. Bottle Caps (Metal) 20,551
10. Lids (Plastic) 20,077
11. Grocery Bags (Plastic) 18,232
12. Cups & Plates (Paper) 15,183