A canoe made out of duct tape. An 18-karat gold ring. False teeth. Entire barbeques. These are some of the more peculiar items that have been uncovered throughout the history of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. But every year, about 90 per cent of litter items collected nationwide are less surprising: food wrappers, plastic bags, cups, plates and cutlery, beverage bottles, and cigarette butts. Ironically, these originate from recreational activities—people taking enjoyment in our beloved beaches and other bodies of water. Last year, an astounding 143,737 kilograms of trash were removed from 3,144 kilometres of shoreline in Canada.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a conservation initiative begun by the Vancouver Aquarium in 1994 and now jointly led by WWF. Participants can take part in an existing cleanup, or choose to organize their own. The groups can be as small as five friends, or as large as a corporation or community. Registration is currently open for this year’s event, which will run from September 15 until the 23rd, corresponding with the International Coastal Cleanup. “What’s amazing about this is that people all across Canada and the world are coming together at the same time. There’s a real sense of community and positive change,” says Jill Dwyer, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
Water is a precious resource, covering about 71 per cent of the earth’s surface. No matter where we live, we all have a profound stake in a clean and healthy ocean, and it’s certainly a treasure worth protecting.