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Cleanup Gets Trash Before It Reaches the Oceans

Every year an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters ocean waters. (byrev/pixabay)
Every year an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters ocean waters. (byrev/pixabay)
September 12, 2018

NEW YORK – The 33rd annual International Coastal Cleanup is coming up this weekend, part of a global effort to keep trash out of the oceans. It's the world's largest annual ocean volunteer event.

Every year, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste alone flow into the oceans, and plastic never completely biodegrades. More than 800 species of animals suffer the negative effects, getting tangled in larger pieces or ingesting microscopic particles as plastics crumble over time.

According to Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy, last year's coastal cleanup drew almost 800,000 volunteers to coastlines, lake shores and riverbanks in virtually every state and more than 100 countries.

"They collected more than 20 million pounds of trash, much of it plastic," said Jones. "And so, what we're looking for this Saturday (Sept. 15), is something along that same scale."

There are dozens of cleanup sites in New York, from Long Island Sound to Lake Erie. Those wishing to help out can register and find nearby locations on line at

Jones said the volunteers not only clean up the trash they find, they create a record of every plastic bag, bottlecap, cigarette butt and food wrapper.

"Collecting that data gives us a good sense of what's out there and the kind of things we need to do to make sure that trash doesn't make it to our beaches and our waterways and the ocean in the first place," she explained.

She noted that last year, for the first time, all the top-ten items collected by volunteers around the world were made of plastic, edging glass bottles off the list.

Jones pointed out that small rivers and streams eventually make their way to the ocean, so even people who live far from coastlines can join in the effort.

"It's a real opportunity for anyone who lives near any lake, river, stream, or on the coast, to roll up their sleeves, suit up to clean up, and do something for the good of the ocean and for your community too," she said.

While much more needs to be done to stop plastic waste from reaching the world's oceans, Jones said beach cleanups remain an important part of the solution.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY