Earlier this week I had a poll on my site about the potential smoking ban on Vancouver beaches. Contrary to past articles I have written that have had heated discussions about smokers and non-smokers alike, I was (pleasantly) surprised to see the conversation shift to a matter of litter, as opposed to one about air pollution.
Discarded cigarettes not only litter the sand on beaches, they also cause environmental damage; whatever can be swept up on the beach will also be dragged out to sea with the tide and more than likely gobbled up by a creature after that.
For 15 years the Vancouver Aquarium has been organizing the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Over the span of a week (September 20-28, 2008) volunteers can gather on local beaches and on the edges of lakes for one massive effort to remove litter and help restore the natural environment.
The program allows and enables participants from all walks of life to be an environmental steward for a day. By choosing a shoreline, participants can register to cleanup and record all the litter found at that shoreline. All data is returned to the Vancouver Aquarium for tallying. All tallied data is forwarded to the International Coastal Cleanup to contribute to worldwide results. In 2006, Canada was the 2nd largest cleanup in the world! [Cleanup – FAQ]
Anyone can sign up on the Shoreline website and initiate or join a cleanup in their area. Looking at the current map, Vancouver, West Vancouver and North Vancouver seem to be pretty well covered already but we have much more shoreline around that could use our help ie. Surrey including an available (not yet initiated) cleanup site at Semiahmoo Bay.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is, naturally, a nation-wide initiative even though it is formed by the Vancouver Aquarium. You can search by city on their website and follow event information and details on their blog if you would like to get involved this year.