International Coastal Cleanup Month is one of the world's largest annual preservation and protection events and volunteer efforts for our ocean, waves and beaches.
Beach cleanups feel as American as apple pie. However, in 2020, they have taken on a whole new level of importance. Between devastating fires and floods, the warning signs of climate change's effect on the planet has never been starker. Throw in the global pandemic and we have been able to see in real time how humans are the most dramatic contributer to climate change.
Beach cleanups today are more important than ever Here are the top 5 reasons beach cleanups today are not your mama's trash pick-ups.
In a time when people are more isolated and staying indoors, getting people out of the house reminds them of their place on this planet, their role in the environment and their connection to their communities. In this time when we're more isolated, it can be easy to forget that our actions are part of the larger global community that shares resources like land, water and air.
Living in America in 2020 is a fragile endeavour to say the least. Every day presents a new uncertainty from health to income to politics. We are undoubtedly living in a time of collective trauma. Trauma counselors and therapists have concluded that one of the most important ways to protect your mental health is to set a tangible purpose. Participating in a beach clean-up gives yourself a clear goal and allows you to work on something larger than yourself - combating climate change.
Joining a SameSide beach cleanup is even more powerful. At every SameSide cleanup, we send you a resource toolkit that allows you to take even more action to combat climte change. Purpose is power.
We live in a time when data and facts are under attack and misinformation is fighting to prevail against real data. Climate change is ground zero for the dismissal of facts to support a desire to roll back environmental protection laws for higher profits. A beach clean up is an opportunity to gather fresh data about the state of our coasts and the types of trash that pollutes them. This data is evaluated by scientists and helps inform policy decisions, laws and budgets.
For example, data over the years from beach cleanups have shown that plastic straws are among the most common debris found in the trash collected. Several states and municipalities went on to pass plastic straw bans and contribute to the protection of our ocean ecosystems.
According to NOAA, coastal and marine waters support over 28 million jobs in America. When polluted beaches happen, they not only result to a high increase of illnesses among the local population, but they also hurt the local economy. NRDC economists have estimated that a typical swimming day is worth $35 per beach visitor so a closed water way can be disastrous to local economies.
The most obvious impact is removing copious amounts of plastic and trash from entering the oceans. According to Surfrider Foundation, the top five most commonly collected items on ICCD last year were cigarette butts, plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, plastic bottle caps and plastic straws, respectively. All are forms of plastic debris. The very qualities that make plastic an adaptable and durable product to use, also make it an environmental nightmare. Plastics do not biodegrade. Instead they break down with exposure to weather and the sun’s ultraviolet rays into smaller and smaller pieces. When these pieces infiltrate the environment, especially marine environments, they wreak havoc on wildlife and the ecosystem.