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Celebrate Coast Day by picking up trash - September 12, 2013

“Pay It Forward” is the title of a movie where a social studies teacher challenges his students to “think of something that would change the world and put it into action.”

Trevor, the main character in the movie, conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward — repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds. Trevor’s efforts to make good on his idea bring a revolution not only in the lives of himself, his mother and his teacher, but also in those of an ever-widening circle of people completely unknown to him.

For more than 25 years, the Ocean Conservancy has been working on paying it forward by bringing together those who enjoy our waterways and helping them contribute to a vision for trash free seas. They work with communities such as ours encouraging local partnerships for an International Coast Day Cleanup.

They help communities coordinate a yearly coastal cleanup and then collect the data from these cleanups to raise the awareness that we face many complex challenges when it comes to a clean and healthy environment, there is one simple problem we all seem to understand — trash.

Volunteers from all over the world have gathered every year along coastlines and waterways to participate in the International Coastal Cleanup. Many walk, while others set out on boats. Thousands more don scuba gear to seek trash below the water’s surface.

Last year more than half a million volunteers participated, collecting more than 10 million pounds of trash and covering a distance of nearly 18,000 miles.

These volunteers have picked up everything imaginable along the world’s shorelines. The top items were 2,117,931 cigarette butts (and smokers wonder why resorts want to ban smoking on our beaches!), 1,140,222 food wrappers and containers, 1,065,171 plastic bottles and 958,893 caps and lids. Several years ago, a whale washed up on our shoreline and the cause of death was the ingestion of a plastic spray paint cap, which was lodged in its throat blocking air passage.

This year, Delmarva Power, Maryland Coastal Bays, Ocean City Surfriders, Ocean Conservancy and the Town of Ocean City are banding together again to coordinate and participate in a cleanup recognizing both International Cleanup Day and National Estuary Day.

The Ocean City cleanup will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28. The event begins at 10 a.m. at City Hall on Third Street.

Everyone and anyone is welcomed and encouraged to join us in paying it forward by picking up trash. Amazingly, once you participate in a trash cleanup, you will find that you will always be picking up trash, which could be a small piece that might just saves a bird or a marine mammal from harm.

The event starts at City Hall. There you will receive trash bags, latex gloves, trash tally sheet and a commemorative T-shirt. We pick up trash until noon. At noon, we will meet at Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon on 28th Street to turn in tally sheets and give a “toast to our coasts” for National Estuary Day. Twenty-eight estuary programs around the country will be hosting a toast to the coast to post pictures throughout social media to promote this day.

Thanks to Delmarva Power’s involvement in engaging environmental, governmental and business organizations in this region, volunteers in more than 50 locations throughout Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey will participate in this event.

Assateague Coastal Trust will also be hosting an International Coast Day Cleanup on the actual International Coast Day, Sept. 21 at Assateague Island National Seashore Park beginning at 8:30 a.m.

If you would like to participate in the Ocean City Cleanup, contact Sandi Smith at 410-213-2297, ext. 107, or you can sign up online at http://signuptocleanup.org.

If you would like to participate in the cleanup at Assateague, please contact Matt Heim at 410-629-1538.
 

Sandi Smith is the marketing coordinator for Maryland Coastal Bays Program.


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