Ocean Currents » international coastal cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:00:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Future Leaders Fight for Trash Free Seas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/04/24/future-leaders-fight-for-trash-free-seas/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/04/24/future-leaders-fight-for-trash-free-seas/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:00:45 +0000 Sarah Kollar http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10154

Each year Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup draws volunteers of all ages together to remove trash from the lakes, rivers and coastlines they love. As we approach the thirtieth Anniversary of this global trash-free-seas effort, and take a retrospective look at all the Cleanup has accomplished, we know that children and students continue to play a major role in its success.

In the past two years alone, over 151,000 youth across the globe have participated in an International Coastal Cleanup event.  For all volunteers, especially kids, a cleanup experience is also an educational one. Engaging the next generation on the impacts of ocean trash and, most importantly, how we all can prevent it is vital if we are to stop further flow of debris into the ocean.

The students from Park School, MA who got Dunkin’ Donuts to come to the table and reconsider their use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) cups are just one example of youth making change happen. After learning about the long-lasting affects that EPS has on the environment, they got to work immediately. Their change.org campaign received more than 280,000 signatures and the attention of Dunkin’ Donuts, who have now agreed to switch to environmentally friendly alternatives to serve their tasty beverages.

To inspire even more kids and students, Ocean Conservancy partnered with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program in 2014 to create Talking Trash & Taking Action, a comprehensive educational program dedicated to the issue of ocean trash.

Since its launch, the Talking Trash program has found its way to educators throughout the country. Whether it’s a simple activity incorporated into a lesson on watersheds, or a whole day dedicated to figuring out what those “gyres of trash” are all about, Talking Trash is not only answering these questions but also making the deeper connection for youth that ocean trash is a problem that affects us all. In turn, we hope that youth are inspired to react to this issue, as the students at Park School did, and become future leaders in the fight for trash free seas.

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Interview: Building an Ocean Cleanup Brigade in Bangladesh http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/02/11/interview-building-an-ocean-cleanup-brigade-in-bangladesh/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/02/11/interview-building-an-ocean-cleanup-brigade-in-bangladesh/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 14:00:20 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9838

Ocean trash.  Marine debris. You’ve heard it’s a problem. An ever-increasing amount of plastic pollution is entering our ocean every day. Surprisingly, many countries around the world lack the most basic trash collection services. As incomes rise, people are able to afford more and more plastic goods. But in many countries, the ability to collect and manage waste isn’t growing at nearly the same rate. As a result more plastic is ending up on beaches, in rivers and eventually the ocean.

We’re lucky at Ocean Conservancy to have an incredible network of passionate and devoted coordinators and volunteers through our International Coastal Cleanup who work tirelessly to keep their local beaches and waterways free of harmful plastic debris. Just last week, I had the honor of interviewing our Bangladesh Country Coordinator, Muntasir Mamun, about the problems with marine debris and how the Cleanups in his country have been successfully recruiting more and more volunteers.

OC: Why are you so invested in our ocean’s health?

Muntasir: Bangladesh is the biggest delta on Earth and has one of the largest natural sandy sea beaches. Due to over population, Bangladesh is heavily threatened by the impact of trash. Moreover, thousands of rivers are going across my country and ending up being at the ocean. So, the trash being in the rivers (intentionally or unintentionally) are going to be in the ocean. Not only that, geographically Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries from the impact of climate change.

OC: How did you first get started with the International Coastal Cleanup?

Muntasir: I heard about this program while I was attending an exchange program in Japan in 2005. One of the participants from the Philippines suggested that I become involved in Bangladesh since we have such a long coastal belt.

OC: What beaches have you helped clean up?

Muntasir: Cox’s Bazar and St. Martin’s Island

OC: Who did you work with during the Cleanup that inspired you?

Muntasir: I think the volunteers are the key inspiration factor for me.

OC: How has your Cleanup changed over the years?

Muntasir: When I first started this program in Bangladesh, 10 years ago, there were only four people involved. But now, it’s a program of more than thousands. Local government, corporations and educational institutions got involved in the program. The beach we used to see a long time ago, it’s cleaner than ever. The habit of littering was reduced and a number of trash bins have been installed.

OC: How would you describe your volunteers?

Muntasir: Volunteers are the heart of the International Coastal Cleanup. It’s the volunteers who keep the program running and successful.

OC: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found during a Cleanup?

Muntasir: A huge abandoned fiberglass boat on the shore of St. Martin’s Island.

OC: Thanks for all your time, Muntasir, and for the tremendous effort you lead to keep the shores of Bangladesh free of trash!


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Overflowing Trash Cans Lead to an Overwhelmed Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/05/overflowing-trash-cans-lead-to-an-overwhelmed-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/05/overflowing-trash-cans-lead-to-an-overwhelmed-ocean/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 13:45:27 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9676

Los Angeles is a city overflowing:  with culture, with movies and music, with people—and with trash. A recent internal report shed light on a big problem. Los Angeles has more trash than it can handle. Despite its size (nearly 500 square miles), the city only has approximately 700 public trash cans.

That’s correct:  700. One public trash can for every 5,548 people. That math simply does not work.

We often assume items we throw away end up properly discarded in landfills—and they often do.  But overflowing trash cans, insufficient recycling systems, or a simple lack of basic waste collection in many countries, including our own, results in plastics and other forms of trash “escaping” into the environment, ultimately ending up in rivers, lakes and the ocean.

Los Angeles is simply one example of the growing plastics pollution problem threatening our global ocean.

The explosive growth of plastics consumption over the next decade will largely take place in rapidly industrializing countries, which also have some of the lowest waste collection rates on the planet. This consumption/waste collection mismatch results in massive inputs of plastic into the ocean. Just last month, a study in PLOS ONE revealed that more than 5 trillion pieces of plastics litter the ocean surface, while a subsequent publication in Royal Society Open Science shows that an equal, if not greater amount, of tiny plastic fragments are littering the deep sea.

A new solution of scale is required. There are many excellent initiatives such as local bag bans, local bottle deposit laws, and Ocean Conservancy’s own International Coastal Cleanup; however, these efforts alone will not stop the global onslaught of plastics entering the ocean.  Industry simply cannot afford to push more plastic down the pipe without a solution. The escalation of this challenge, if left unaddressed, may create massive liabilities, challenge food security, and waste huge amounts of valuable material.

Ocean Conservancy has developed a plan—and industries are getting on board.

Through our Trash Free Seas Alliance®, we are working with industry, economists, waste experts, and other NGOs  to identify ways for communities to profitably gather, separate, sell and store plastic waste streams, thus reversing the tide of plastics entering the ocean—and also advance the health, economies and well-being of the communities served.

Plastics have done, and continue to do, much good for the world, but plastic producers and consumer goods companies have to be held responsible for the end of life impact plastics impart on our ocean. An economically viable and equitable solution can and must be crafted to confront this global problem.

Ocean Conservancy is committed to getting the job done. It is big, bold and ambitious, but absolutely imperative if we wish, someday, to truly celebrate trash free seas.

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Kids Show How to Fight (and Win!) Against Ocean Trash http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/11/13/kids-show-how-to-fight-and-win-against-ocean-trash/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/11/13/kids-show-how-to-fight-and-win-against-ocean-trash/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 15:25:44 +0000 Sarah Kollar http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9493

November 1 was a cold, dreary morning in Boston and when I arrived at Wollaston Beach to take part in a beach cleanup, the rain and wind grew more intense. I questioned whether we could even have a cleanup, but all doubt was swiftly wiped away when I met the staff and students from Park School.

I should have known that these fourth, fifth and now sixth graders, who successfully campaigned for Dunkin’ Donuts to stop using Styrofoam cups, weren’t going to let the weather get them down.  As part of their school’s Green Club, these kids are seriously passionate about the environment. When they learned that expanded polystyrene (EPS)—the material used in foam-style cups—virtually never breaks down in the environment and often winds up in our oceans, they decided to act.

Their petition on change.org landed them a meeting at Dunkin’ Donuts’ Corporate Headquarters where they expressed their concerns about the 1.7 billion coffees served a year in disposable EPS cups, which could have major consequences for the ocean. As a result of this and the 280,000-plus signatures the campaign has garnered, Dunkin’ agreed to switch to more environmentally-friendly alternatives to serve their tasty beverages.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to meet these students who are true ocean heroes that are tackling trash at the source, one item at a time. Their enthusiasm and dedication motivated our group to hit the beach in the rain and collect all the trash we could find. We found the regular trash culprits including cigarette butts, plastic bottle caps, and plastic pieces. The experience came full circle though when we found Dunkin’s iconic pink and orange straws, foam pieces and Dunkin’ Donuts cups in their entirety!

Chatting with the students and their teacher and club advisor Mr. Ted Wells, I learned that their advocacy efforts for the ocean and environment in general are far from over. While Dunkin’ Donuts won’t be completely EPS free by the students’ goal of Earth Day 2015, the Park School Green Club promises to see the effort through. And they are sure to be involved in many more environmental projects and campaigns to come.

After making a difference on the beach, we retreated indoors for some well-deserved hot cocoa.  The students and volunteers were pleased to enjoy their drinks in reusable Ocean Conservancy mugs, which were a thank you for their hard work and for being active ocean advocates. Besides, trash free champions would never want to drink their cocoa from disposable cups!


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International Coastal Cleanup Day 2014 http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/30/international-coastal-cleanup-day-2014/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/30/international-coastal-cleanup-day-2014/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:58:13 +0000 Michelle Frey http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9293 Every year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers all around the world remove trash from their local beaches and shorelines for the International Coastal Cleanup. View some of the photos we collected from the 2014 Cleanup.

Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Elyse Butler Mallams/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Elyse Butler Mallams/Ocean Conservancy Photo: Jackie Yeary/Ocean Conservancy costas 014 ]]>
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Putting a Lid on Ocean Trash http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/22/putting-a-lid-on-ocean-trash/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/22/putting-a-lid-on-ocean-trash/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:06:40 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9263

This weekend, we wrapped up another fantastic International Coastal Cleanup. Thank you so much to all of our volunteers and supporters who came out to make a difference for our ocean.

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out all over the world to clean up their local beaches and waterways. We’ve collected our favorite photos, tweets and Instagram pictures to share some our favorites from around the globe. Check out our Storify below!

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the International Coastal Cleanup. I am so grateful to have allies like you joining me in the fight against marine debris. While beach cleanups alone can’t solve the ocean trash problem, they are an integral piece to the overall solution.

If you weren’t able to join us for the International Coastal Cleanup, you can still make a difference. Take our Skip the Straw Challenge and help prevent plastic straws from entering our ocean.


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Two Days Until the International Coastal Cleanup http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/18/two-more-days-until-the-international-coastal-cleanup/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/18/two-more-days-until-the-international-coastal-cleanup/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 15:31:37 +0000 Jackie Yeary http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9242

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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