The Blog Aquatic » Trash Free Seas News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:44:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Will We See You Tomorrow at the 29th Annual International Coastal Cleanup Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:00:44 +0000 Allison Schutes

Photo: Ocean Conservancy

The 29th annual International Coastal Cleanup is tomorrow! I’m extremely excited to see the amazing impact volunteers will have – and I can only image all the weird items we’ll find on our beaches.

Marine debris isn’t an ocean problem – it’s a people problem. That means people are the solution. More than 648,000 volunteers cleaned almost 13,000 miles of beaches and shorelines last year alone. That massive effort collectively removed 12.3 million pounds of trash worldwide!

You can be part of this marine debris solution by joining us tomorrow! A great way to turn the tide on trash is to sign up to clean up your local beach, shoreline or park as part of this year’s International Coastal Cleanup. Preventing the trash we find on beaches and shorelines from ever entering the ocean isn’t the only way of making our seas trash free. However, it’s an important step to protecting endangered animals that are threatened by marine debris.

You can also join the 25,000 people taking the Last Straw Challenge. Every time you’re at a sit down restaurant, tell your waiter to hold the straw. You can help prevent 5 million plastic straws from entering our ocean and landfills by not using a straw when you go out to eat.

Plastic pollution poses a significant threat. Plastics fragment in the ocean and become bite-sized pieces that marine life can accidentally consume. This can cause digestive problems for ocean animals and even death. Spending some time cleaning your beach can have an amazing impact on marine life like sea turtles and seals.

If you can’t join us tomorrow, it’s okay. Cleaning up beaches and shorelines isn’t just a one-day affair. The most important thing you can do when you go to the beach is to leave it just as you found it – or leave it in an even better condition for your next trip. Cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and straws all make the top 10 most collected items of trash we find during the International Coastal Cleanup. You can be an ocean champion every day by collecting any trash you find out of place.

If you’re at a Cleanup site tomorrow, we want to hear from you! Tweet us your ICC experience by using #2014CleanUp. If you find something weird, tweet or Instagram a picture of it using #WeirdFinds.

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Two Days Until the International Coastal Cleanup Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:31:37 +0000 Jackie Yeary

The International Coastal Cleanup is only two days away! We can’t wait to see all of you at your local beaches and waterways this weekend! You can check out our map to find the cleanup location nearest you, if you haven’t already.

If you’re planning on coming to the cleanup, we recommend that you wear closed-toe shoes, sunscreen and a hat. If you have work gloves or a bucket, feel free to bring them along, but our Cleanup Coordinators will provide any other supplies you may need.

If you’re on Instagram or Twitter, be sure to tag your posts with #2014Cleanup so we can see all of the great work you’re doing! And if you find anything cool or unusual, send us a photo tagged #WeirdFind. We’ll be sharing some of our favorites on our social media channels!

We’re so grateful that you’ll be joining us for the 29th annual International Coastal Cleanup! It’s an important part of solving our ocean trash problem. Thank you again for signing up– and we’ll see you at the beach on Saturday!

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Growing the New York State Cleanup to 6,000 Volunteers Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:25:32 +0000 Guest Blogger

Photo: Mat Szwajkos/Aurora Photos

This blog is part of a series of stories about the International Coastal Cleanup from Coordinators. This blog was written by Natalie Grant, a Coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup in New York.

I am honored to be the New York State Coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup. Coordinating New York State’s participation in this annual event is such a rewarding task! I find it thrilling each year when new volunteers sign up to help clean our shorelines and make a difference for the future of not only marine mammals but also our children and our communities.

Approximately 15 years ago, I first began my involvement with the Cleanup as a volunteer. This initial experience was such a positive one that I continued to volunteer each year. Eventually, I became a beach captain, recruiting new participants and volunteers to clean a shoreline in my community. I lived in a waterfront community and learned first-hand the dire problem of marine debris and knew how important this annual event is to New York State and to the waterways and shorelines worldwide.

Soon, I began to assume additional roles such as gathering the resulting data, maintaining databases, and shipping supplies. After several years, the long-time State Coordinator announced that she was retiring. I knew I wanted to continue helping and become the State Coordinator for New York. For the past few years, I have diligently worked to increase participation and expand the number of sites. I have maintained long and loyal relationships with our beach captains and I am very proud that they return every year to clean the beaches and shorelines in their communities. Many also “adopt” their shoreline, returning throughout the year to maintain the site. I am very proud that we have grown this grass roots event from 4 shorelines and 100 volunteers in 1986 to 157 shorelines with over 5,900 volunteers cleaning 173 miles in 2013.

This year mark’s my fourth year as the Cleanup Coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup. Each year, I try to solicit the help of more and more volunteers to remove debris miles of shorelines across the State of New York. For the 2014 Beach Cleanup, I am thrilled to have 194 beach captains set to host thousands of volunteers.

New York’s participation in the International Coastal Cleanup is sponsored and funded by the American Littoral Society’s Northeast Chapter. 2015 will mark the American Littoral Society’s 30th year in the International Coastal Cleanup. I find myself already planning for that historic event!

Will you join us on September 20, 2014? Check out Ocean Conservancy’s map to find a cleanup location near you?

Other blogs in this series:

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Three Reasons for the International Coastal Cleanup Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:20:48 +0000 Nick Mallos

Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup is a little over a week away! As the world’s largest cleanup event for the ocean, the International Coastal Cleanup is a crucial part of the fight for trash free seas. Why?

1. First, and foremost the Cleanup provides our team with data—and lots of it! Every year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers fill out data cards to record what they find while picking up their beaches and waterways. This information helps Ocean Conservancy and myriad other ocean and environmental organizations around the world identify the most harmful items of debris, and find ways to stop them from entering the ocean.

For example, over the years we’ve found that straws are the fifth most common item collected during the International Coastal Cleanup. Like many other items of plastic debris, straws are easily consumed by birds and other marine life who mistake them for food. Ocean Conservancy launched The Last Straw Challenge and asked ocean lovers to “skip the straw” when dining out. Since May, more than 25,000 people have taken the challenge and we’ve kept more than 5 million plastic straws from ever ending up in our ocean or landfills.

2. The International Coastal Cleanup is a great way to get people involved. While beach clean ups alone can’t solve the problem of ocean trash, they certainly help! For many of our volunteers, the Cleanup is the only time that they witness the effects of marine debris first-hand. By participating in a cleanup at their local beach or waterway, they see the impacts of their trash and are more likely to think about the products they use, what they throw away and its implications for the environment.

3. The International Coastal Cleanup is an easy way to give back. The ocean provides us with so much. It’s important to make sure we are taking care of it, so that it can continue to take care of us.  This September, volunteers around the world are giving back to our ocean and joining the fight against ocean trash. Make sure you sign up for a clean up near you!

September 20th is my birthday. Celebrate with me by coming out and cleaning up your local beach, creek, park or reef. I hope you’ll join us!

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25,000 Ocean Lovers Accepted the Last Straw Challenge Sat, 06 Sep 2014 18:00:19 +0000 Nick Mallos

Photo: Samantha Reinders

We did it! We were able to get 25,000 ocean lovers to accept the Last Straw Challenge before the International Coastal Cleanup on September 20. This means we’re preventing 5 million plastic straws from ever ending up in our ocean or landfills.

That’s right — 5 million plastic straws. A small gesture like asking your waiter to hold the straw every time you’re at a sit down restaurant is a big help for marine wildlife. Endangered animals like sea turtles, albatross and seals are at especially high risk of the dangers of plastic pollution. They mistakenly consume pieces of plastic and are at risk of choking on them or damaging their digestive systems.

International Coastal Cleanup volunteers picked up more than 555,000 straws on our beaches and shorelines last year alone. With the average American eating out four times a week and almost always using a straw or two, the dinner table is a great place to start turning the tide on trash. With this kind of commitment, we’re that much closer to having trash free seas.

There’s still more we can do! The International Coastal Cleanup is on September 20. Sign up to clean up your local beach or shoreline today!

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Vote for Louisiana Cleanup Volunteer to Win Cox Conserves Heroes Award! Wed, 03 Sep 2014 13:20:24 +0000 Rachel Guillory

We are so excited that Benjamin Goliwas, a long-time volunteer who helps coordinate the International Coastal Cleanup in Louisiana, has been selected as a finalist for the Louisiana Cox Conserves Heroes Awards. Ben, who goes by “The Admiral,” has organized cleanups around Louisiana for years, and his hard work was crucial in cleaning up the storm debris from Lake Pontchartrain after Hurricane Katrina in 2004.

“After Hurricane Katrina, the things we pulled out of the water and removed from our shores were amazing,” said Ben. “Not just tires, but the whole car; refrigerators still full; dining room tables with the silverware; and just about everything anybody can think of. Every year since, we’ve found something equally unusual, including vessels and pieces of the dock. It’s very dangerous for boaters in the marina.”

In the New Orleans area, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation plays a critical role in mobilizing volunteers, distributing supplies and collecting trash and data cards—not to mention organizing a big party on the lakefront afterward! Thanks to their dedication, thousands of Louisiana residents come together as a community every year to prevent trash from reaching the Gulf, where it poses a threat to marine wildlife and habitats, local economies and even human health.

The 2014 International Coastal Cleanup will be held on Saturday, September 20. Every year, nearly 650,000 volunteers around the world clean trash from beaches, lakes, rivers, streams and other waterways in more than 90 countries. Find a cleanup near you and join us on September 20!

Don’t forget to vote for Ben for the Cox Conserves Heroes Award. The winner receives $10,000 to donate to the nonprofit of their choice!

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You’re Invited Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:49:07 +0000 Nick Mallos


It’s time to make a difference!

On Saturday, September 20th, Ocean Conservancy is hosting the International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers around the world are gathering to remove trash from their beaches and waterways. And you’re invited!

The Cleanup is so important for a healthy ocean. Last year, volunteers collected a record-breaking 13.6 million items of trash. With your help, we can collect even more.

But having more trash on our beaches to pick up is not a thing to celebrate. The sad truth is that our beaches and waterways are polluted and littered with trash. This summer as millions of Americans head to the beach, they’ll encounter plastic bottle caps, straws, cigarette butts and more.

That’s why we need to work together to stop the flow of trash before it has a chance to reach the water to choke and entangle dolphins, endanger sea turtles, ruin our beaches, and depress our local economies.

Tell us you’ll join us at this year’s International Coastal Clean Up.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll be directed to our Cleanup map, where you can find the details for a cleanup near you.

I can’t wait to see you at the International Coastal Cleanup this September!

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