International Coastal Cleanup coming on Sept. 17
STEVENSVILLE — The Ocean Conservancy’s 30th annual International Coastal Cleanup is set for Saturday, Sept. 17, at sites around the world. Locally. Kent Island Beach Cleanups founder Kristin Weed is coordinating the cleanup effort.
In 2015, 136 volunteers helped clean nine sites around the county, Weed said. They recorded more than 13,000 pieces of trash — the equivalent to 3,650 pounds.
“We record everything we pick up,” Weed said. Clipboards and forms are provided; each volunteer uses hash marks to track the trash collected. The records become part of the Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean trash index, which is the world’s largest item-by-item, location-by-location database of trash found along the shore.
Globally, more than 18 million pounds of trash was collected in the 2015 one-day cleanup blitz, according to a report released by the Ocean Conservancy in May. Among the unusual items found in the 2015 Cleanup were 97 TV sets, 28 refrigerators, 39 toilets and 54 bicycles, the Ocean Conservancy said.
The biggest thing found by KIBCU was plastics, Weed said. Plastic debris is a growing concern for marine life, and most commonly collected items are cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and plastic straws, according to the Ocean Conservancy. All are forms of plastic debris.
Kent Island Beach Cleanups has the largest cleanup presence on the Eastern Shore, Weed said, and, this year, she would like to double the number of local volunteers. But she would be happy as long as they top last year’s effort.
“Even if we get 150 volunteers, I just want to beat that number,” she said.
In addition to Terrapin Beach, where her husband Jon will serve as site captain, cleanups are planned at Romancoke, Kent Narrows, Old Love Point Park, Ferry Point Park, Centreville Landing, Bennett Point Landing, Hemingway’s Beach and the fishing area Bridges Restaurant and the Jetty Restaurant.
KIBCU provides gloves, trash bags, rakes, trash pickers, buckets and water. Volunteers should bring their own reusable water bottle to fill.
“We just need people,” Weed said.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call her at 410-458-1240 or email email@example.com, or they may contact her through KI Beach Cleanups’ website, www.kentislandbeachcleanups.com, or on the group’s Facebook page.
“I’d like to get an idea of how many people are coming and to which sites,” Weed said. Once a volunteer contacts her and says where they’d like to help, Weed will put them in touch with the captain of that particular site.
Some people make a day it, swimming and picnicking after the cleanup; at Terrapin, you can even bring your dog, Weed said.
Cleanups are not limited to the sites listed.
“If people want to clean somewhere, we want to count it, even if it’s just the little beach by their house,” Weed said. “We will provide supplies and data cards.”
Cleanups start at 8 a.m. and usually go until about noon, but volunteers can work as long as they want, whether it’s one hour or four hours, Weed said.
Students are welcome and can earn service learning hours, she added. Of last year’s volunteers, 55 of them were juveniles — some even under 10, she said. She added she would like to get more young people involved.
Anyone under 18 who volunteers must have a waiver signed by a parent or guardian, and all volunteers must sign a participation waiver. The waiver is available on the KIBCU’s website.
Weed said she will begin meeting with site captains and handing out supplies around Labor Day.
If someone is not in physical condition that they can bend and pick trash up, they can still volunteer, Weed said. She could use help manning the sign in tables, taking pictures and going between the different sites.
KIBCU could use some more board members, Weed added. Members of the board of directors serve two-year terms.
The group obtained official nonprofit status earlier this year and welcomes donations of food, water and money.