Volunteers Joined Hundreds of Thousands Worldwide during Ocean Conservancy’s 32nd International Coastal Cleanup
Washington, DC, September 18, 2017 (Ocean Conservancy) – More than 500 volunteers converged on Kingman Island Saturday, September 16 to participate in the flagship event of Ocean Conservancy’s 32nd International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), the world’s largest single-day volunteer effort to remove trash from local waterways, beaches, lakes and rivers. Armed with gloves and trash bags, Washingtonians recovered thousands of pounds of trash from along the Anacostia, contributing to the more than 12 million volunteers who have removed more than 220 million pounds of trash since the first ICC more than three decades ago.
“Right now, all around the country and all around the world, hundreds of thousands of people are doing exactly what you are doing: they’re at their local beach, or river, or park; they are with family, or friends—or maybe they are making new friends; and they are rolling up their sleeves and taking action to keep the ocean clean,” said Ocean Conservancy CEO Janis Searles Jones in opening remarks. Noting Kingman Island’s proximity to the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, she added, “Make no mistake: every little piece of trash we collect and log here today is one less item threatening beloved ocean wildlife and communities.”
“If each of us can inspire just one person to either be a trash picker-upper or to reduce the amount of disposable and plastic items they use in their daily lives, we can prevent marine debris from even happening,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, Deputy Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, at the event. “We can fix this. This is a doable issue.”
Highlighting the global impact of the ICC was the participation of Sweden’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Karin Olofsdotter, along with several Swedish Embassy staff. Noting her government’s many efforts to address climate change and ocean health, including a record-breaking financial commitment to these issues in Sweden’s national budget, she said, “It is important that we all contribute to the solution, which is why the Embassy of Sweden was pleased to support and participate in Ocean Conservancy’s 32nd International Coastal Cleanup.”
The Kingman Island event, supported by Patagonia’s Washington, DC store and held in partnership with the Living Classrooms Foundation, which manages Kingman Island, featured free breakfast and lunch, live music, lawn games, and giveaways, as well as a contest for “weirdest find.” Weirdest finds this year included a Polaroid camera, an Incredible Hulk doll, Christmas lights and a toy hamburger. 2017 Miss Earth United States Air Ashley Wade, Elite Miss Mid-Atlantic Earth Tracey Hirsch and Ms. Earth Ireland Rose Buckley, who participated in their capacity as Miss Earth pageant titleholders, showed their strength by hauling in a rusted, 15-foot iron pipe, among other odd items.
In addition to removing thousands of pounds of trash from along the Anacostia River, volunteers contributed to the world’s largest database on marine debris by logging each trash item in Ocean Conservancy’s Clean Swell mobile app. Scientists, researchers, industry leaders and policymakers rely on Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Trash Index to inform policy and determine solutions to the growing marine debris crisis.
Every year, millions of tons of trash—including an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste—flow into the ocean, entangling wildlife, polluting beaches, and costing coastal municipalities hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Items like cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and plastic straws are among the most-commonly collected items. They are also among the most deadly to wildlife like seabirds and sea turtles. Plastics—which never fully biodegrade but rather break up into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics—are of particular concern. Scientists predict that without concerted global action, there could be one ton of plastic for every three tons of fin fish in the ocean by 2025.
“Hats off to Ocean Conservancy for bringing out such a large and awesome group of dedicated volunteers to Kingman Island to help with Living Classrooms’ mission of preserving natural resources and of educating the public,” said Lee Cain, Director of Kingman Island at Living Classrooms Foundation of the National Capital Region.
“We are thrilled that so many volunteers came out to our flagship cleanup event,” said Nicholas Mallos, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas® Program. “Trash in our ocean is a global problem but tackling it starts locally. Everyone can make a difference for trash free seas.”
Photos from the event can be found here, and are attributable to Ocean Conservancy/Joy Asico.
Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit oceanconservancy.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.