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Thank You for Changing the World One Bag, Butt and Bottle at a Time

Posted On September 16, 2012 by

Celebrating a successful Cleanup in South Africa. Credit: Thomene Dilley

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  – Margaret Mead

Well…a group of 600,000 people is not exactly small, but the dedication and commitment displayed by International Coastal Cleanup volunteers is changing the world in a very meaningful way. Once again I am awed and inspired by the incredible efforts put forth by ordinary citizens to rid beaches and waterways around the world of trash; culminating in a healthier, more resilient ocean.

‘Success’ is often the term used by organizers and volunteers alike following the International Coastal Cleanup, but personally I find this term to be an interesting –perhaps even perverse—way to define a Cleanup event.  Removing millions of pounds of trash from beaches and waterways is unquestionably cause for celebration, but actual success will be the day when we no longer need the Cleanup because we’ve stopped trash from occurring in the first place.

Regardless of how you define the Cleanup though, there can be no dispute over what to call the volunteer effort:  remarkable and unparalleled. Whether you picked up a single bottle or hauled a 500-pound fishing net off a beach yesterday, thank you for participating in the International Coastal Cleanup. Without the extraordinary contributions from Cleanup Coordinators and Volunteers around the world, the International Coastal Cleanup would not exist—You are the Cleanup.

Trash is a preventable, human-generated problem that affects our ocean. And while at times trash may seem like an insurmountable problem, incremental steps, when added collectively, make a huge difference for our ocean. No other event wields the power of collective action quite like the International Coastal Cleanup; and it’s for this reason I know we will continue to reduce trash on our beaches and in our ocean, and someday realize trash free seas.

Our beaches and coasts need you. Thankfully, you never let them down.

Thanks.