Canadians across the nation are being asked to roll up their sleeves from September 21 to 29 to help clean up our shorelines. The annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and has the goal of bringing on board 64,000 volunteers and site coordinators to address the challenge of shoreline litter.
The cleaning initiative found its start in 1994 when Vancouver Aquarium organized a small team of employees and volunteers to clean up a local beach in Stanley Park. By 1997, the event had grown to 400 volunteers participating at 20 sites across BC. By 2003, 20,000 people were participating.
"We partnered with the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Canada in 2010, but the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup has been a national program since 2002,' says Linda Nishida, Communications Advisor for Vancouver Aquarium. "We wanted boaters and yachters to know about it because it's something that affects them and we know they care about the health of our waters.'
Companies or individuals that volunteer to oversee the cleanup of a site receive a certificate of recognition from the program.
Those wishing to participate can find a map of proposed cleanup sites across Canada where organizers and volunteers are needed (shorelinecleanup.ca). The initiative is also seeking national and local-level sponsors for the event. "Our presenting sponsor is Loblaw Companies Limited, which is one of our country's largest grocery chains,' says Nishida. "There are opportunities for organizations to become site sponsors. There are various levels of involvement. A business could find a location on our website and organize it's own cleanup with its staff and/or local volunteers. The green dots on the map indicate sites needing coordinators. We provide all the written resources and templates for promoting the cleanup and the site coordinator corrals the volunteers, arranges for supplies, collects data and oversees the clean.'
At last year's Shoreline Cleanup more than 57,000 Canadians cleaned over 3,100 kilometers of shoreline (the approximate distance between Vancouver, BC and Thunder Bay, Ontario). It total, more than 136,000 kilograms of litter (the approximate weight of 30 large school buses) was picked up on Canadian shorelines.
Throughout the event's 20-year history, approximately 1.2 million kilograms of shoreline litter (the approximate weight of 259 school buses) has been collected.
For more information on sponsoring the event, participating or managing a cleanup site in your community click here.