Don’t know what to do with that ugly old bridesmaid dress? How about that old VCR? Here’s a thought — throw it in the ocean!
Well, not really, but apparently somebody thought that was a good idea, because, besides the usual cigarette butts and soda cans, last year’s Coastal Cleanup crew found, among other things, a bridesmaid’s dress, an insulated pizza delivery bag, a VCR, a bicycle wheel and a Japanese sword. This year, volunteers are needed to cleanup more than 60 sites in three states. More than 50 sites are located in Delaware, along ocean and river shorelines and wetland and watershed areas.
A record 3,000 volunteers collected an estimated 19,000 pounds of trash at more than 50 sites in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey last year. A record 2,500 volunteers from civic organizations, youth groups, businesses and families collected 9.6 tons of trash from 41 sites along Delaware’s shorelines and tributaries alone. That’s actually less than in years past, but Matt Likovich of Delmarva Power – which has partnered with environmental, governmental and businesses over the past 21 years to sponsor the event – sees that as a positive.
“It means that the educational component is working,” said Likovich. In addition to it being a great community event, a chance for teachers and elders to educate youth about the dangers of trash to marine life and a way to be a good steward of the environment, he said, the cleanup shows their commitment to the tourism industry and business as a whole.
“It’s the right thing to do. Clean waterways and pristine beaches are not only good for the environment, they are good from a business perspective. Our tourism industry relies on pristine beaches and state parks.”
Jack Hoban of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said that, this year, for the first time, volunteers will be paired in twos and will be picking up recyclables separately from trash. It is one thing, he said, to pick up trash and put it in a landfill, but to pick up things that should have been or can be recycled anyway adds to the environmental stewardship of the project.
Coastal Cleanup is part of International Coastal Cleanup, sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, an organization that works to protect the world’s oceans. The types and quantities of trash collected will be itemized and analyzed to identify the source of the debris, as well as ways to reduce or eliminate waste. It is also held in conjunction with National Estuaries Day, which promotes the importance of estuaries and the need to protect them.
Hoban is the Delaware contact for the 50 sites. Delaware’s cleanup will be Saturday, Sept. 17, at 9 a.m. For more information, or to pre-register, which is strongly recommended, visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/coastalcleanup. There are two additional sites in New Jersey and nine in Maryland, including Assateague Island, Ocean City and the Choptank River in Cambridge.