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Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

Litter on our beaches not only looks ugly – marine and land life can get entangled in plastic debris, or choke on it when they mistake it for food.  The Vancouver Aquarium and WWF Canada, with help from the Loblaw Companies Ltd., are offering Canadians an opportunity to take action and contribute to caring for our shorelines and waterways.  The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup will run September 18-26 this year, and everyone is invited to help remove litter from our waterfront.

garbage on the beachOver 55,000 people registered to participate in the Cleanup in 2009, and together the volunteers removed 160,914 kg of litter.  That included 116,138 food wrappers/containers, and 74,276 plastic bags.  That’s a whole lot of plastic that is being kept from joining the continent of garbage that is polluting our ocean.

Volunteers have found some pretty strange items during the Cleanup.  Why people have left a White Spot uniform, an 18 K gold ring, and a Message in a bottle with a note saying “Please don’t litter” on the shoreline is left to our imagination.

The Cleanup started in 1994 when a small group of Vancouver Aquarium employees collected data on the shoreline litter they removed from a local beach in Stanley Park.  By 1997, it was known as the Great BC Beach Cleanup and 400 volunteers cleaned up litter from 20 sites across the Lower Mainland once a year.  This year, WWF Canada joins the program as a full partner.

Cleanup sealsOn August 26 this year, unique sculptures of aquatic animals, made of garbage, appeared at Vancouver’s English Bay and Toronto’s Ashbridge’s Bay.  3 seals played on Vancouver’s beach while a school of 60 fish jumped through Toronto’s Bay.  On show for just that day, it was hoped they would help people realize that shoreline litter can have far-reaching and negative effects on ecosystems.  As well, it was about the importance of the Cleanup.

Businesses, community groups and individuals can register now for the 2010 cleanup by visiting www.shorelinecleanup.ca.  Register soon – sign up closes September 10, 2010.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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