Nearly 12,000 pounds of trash were collected from Rhode Island shores during an international coastal cleanup last September. The Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, mobilizes this annual cleanup. It recently released its yearly data report highlighting the cleanup’s results.
The Audubon Society of Rhode Island coordinated last year's cleanup. Save the Bay will coordinate the state's International Coastal Cleanup this year. Save the Bay’s volunteer manager, July Lewis, said the amount of trash collected last September gives people a scope of the problem.
“It lets you know that there is an awful lot of trash out there and it’s an important issue,” said Lewis. “It’s something we need to do something about. A one-day cleanup is a wonderful way to get some of that trash off the beaches and do some awareness-raising. But there’s deeper issues that can be addressed to keep that trash out of the sea.”
Among the top 10 items volunteers collected worldwide were: cigarette butts, food wrappers, paper and plastic bags, beverage cans, and glass and plastic beverage bottles. The Ocean Conservancy’s trash report also notes volunteers collected enough such items to furnish a studio apartment, including a couch, sink, oven, toilet, dresser, and mattress; to care for a baby, including a crib, bottles, pacifiers, a stroller, and a high chair; and to dress a bride, including a wedding dress, ring, and veil.
The 12,000 pounds of trash collected in Rhode Island are only a sliver of the total amount collected for the event: more than 12 million pounds. That’s the most ever collected in the event’s history, said Lewis.
“The fact that it’s the most trash ever collected in the event’s history, just shows how the event is very popular and it’s growing,” said Lewis, “and that the amount of trash out there is undiminished by a single clean up day. We got to keep working at the source.”
Rhode Island highlights from the report
1,188 volunteers participated in an ICC cleanup
11,921 pounds of trash were collected and removed from the shorelines
68.4 miles of shoreline were covered by volunteers
87,477 total items were collected and documented
73.6 items per volunteer, on average, were collected
Correction: An earlier version of this report misidentified the Rhode Island coordinator of last year's International Coastal Cleanup.